United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP26)

Date: 31 October – 12 November 2021

Location: Glasgow

This November the 26th annual summit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) known as “COP26” will be hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy. Delegates are convening in Glasgow over two weeks (31/10 – 12/11), with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) scientists participating in, organizing and facilitating numerous ocean events, as they have done for over a decade, continuing to highlight the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, regulating climate and the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society.

Find the programme of PML contributions below

PML is a UNFCCC Observer Organization with activities in the accredited area (Blue Zone; where the negotiations take place), as well as roles in the public (green) zone, Glasgow itself and online. This is a really important COP as it will be the first time since the Paris Agreement (COP21) in 2015 that countries update their national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions (known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’) reflecting their highest possible ambition at this specific time. High ambition is sought after to keep any hope of holding temperature rises to 1.5 degrees as agreed under the Paris Agreement. Current NDCs do not bring the world close to achieving even under 2°C global warming.

The ocean has greatly slowed the rate of climate change, however this has come at a cost and the ocean has warmed, acidified and lost oxygen, whilst circulation patterns are changing, and sea levels are rising. As humans strive to manage these multiple threats it is vital to understand the interplay between the climate, the ocean and its ecosystems and resources to support sustainable ocean management.

An important focus for PML is on understanding and explaining the impacts of climate change to inform policy decisions needed to adapt and mitigate for climate change in addition to developing technologies and novel applications in support of addressing the climate crises, including blue carbon, offshore renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, carbon dioxide removal but also related stressors such as the impact of plastics on climate change.

Our scientists also have key roles in writing UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports which inform COP negotiations, including the for the current sixth assessment which recently published a working group report https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i

We have developed and contributed to briefing papers in the run up to this COP and policy roundtables as well as further activities, examples include: ‘Why the ocean matters in climate negotiations’: which was referenced in the recent UN Global Compact Briefing – Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5°C and the ‘Nature-based Solutions for people climate change and biodiversity’ paper.

For COP26 the ocean transcends across the Presidency goals, from finance to energy to nature, land, resilience, industry, transport, to cities and science and innovation. It is imperative that international decision-makers and key stakeholders understand the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, and the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society. To find out more about the COP26 Presidency goals around mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration visit: https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/.

Visit the COP26 virtual ocean pavilion

Whilst there will be in-person ocean related events at COP26 we recognised that Covid-19 and other reasons may prevent many people, from many nations, travelling to Glasgow. For this reason, PML is a founder and co-organizer of the COP26 virtual Ocean Pavilion. Registration to this pavilion is free and open and gives you access to live and on–demand COP26 ocean events, explore virtual exhibition booths and discover the treasure trove to learn more about the ocean and climate connection.

Programme of PML contributions:

01.11.21 – (2.30pm) In person – Regional Ocean Acidification – examples of the North Sea and North East Atlantic (followed by high level opening), Cryosphere pavilion, Blue Zone; Helen Findlay lead of the event and Yuri Artioli to speak.

03.11.21 – (9-10am) In person – Inclusive Ocean Acidification Action – Science to Society (IOC & GOA-ON event), Commonwealth Pavilion, Blue Zone. Steve Widdicombe speaking.   

04.11.21 – (11am-12pm) In person – Ocean Acidification in the NE Atlantic, Arctic and Baltic Waters – Another reason for enhancing the ambition for urgent CO2 emissions reduction. Part of the Nordic Arctic and ocean day, Nordic Pavilion, Blue Zone. PML coordinator, Carol Turley moderator and Helen Findlay presenting

06.11.21 – (10am onwards) In person – Polar Ocean Day – Polar Oceans: Acidification, Warming and Freshening; Cryosphere Pavilion, Blue Zone. Helen Findlay lead coordinating partner.

06.11.21 – (10.30-11.30am) In Person – Ocean Decade in the Asia Pacific,  panel on key ocean knowledge challenges in the region, with a focus on ocean acidification, Japan Pavilion, Blue Zone. Steve Widdicombe to speak.

06.11.21 – (2.30pm ) In person – “Polar Acidification Deep Dive” including Paleo, Libby Jewett

08.11.21 – (9-10am) In person – Raising ambition at COP26 to deliver SDG14.3 to minimise and address the impacts of ocean acidification, Commonwealth pavilion, Blue zone. Steve Widdicombe will be speaking, Carol Turley moderating (pending) and PML is an event partner.

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), 29 October 2021. More information.

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