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COP26: What is happening on each day of the climate conference?

Written by on 31 October 2021

As more than 190 countries prepare to come together for the UN Climate Change Conference on Sunday, here is your handy guide of what to expect each day of COP26.

This year all eyes will be on Glasgow, Scotland, where world leaders will gather together for the two-week event to discuss the global response to the climate crisis.

As part of the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to try to limit global warming to 2C – but ideally 1.5C – to curb climate breakdown, and to submit their own action plans as to how they will each achieve this.

COP26 is regarded as a particularly important event as it is the first time the parties will review the most up-to-date plans.

So what can we expect from each day of the conference?

• Sunday 31 October

The eve of the summit is used for the procedural opening of negotiations, with several leaders arriving after the end of the G20 summit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison are just some of the leaders due to attend. But there are notable absentees too, namely Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Ahead of COP26, Sky News science correspondent Thomas Moore takes a look at what progress we have made in recent years.

• Monday 1 November

This is when the summit properly gets under way. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host an opening ceremony, to be followed by world leaders’ statements on their own climate action.

Leaders will go on to discuss mitigation, adaptation and finance – which are at the heart of COP26 – and what else must be done to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

• Tuesday 2 November

Tuesday will see more leaders’ statements, as well as a discussion on how forests and land use can contribute to reaching the 1.5C goal, support sustainable livelihoods and meet promises on adaptation and finance.

In the afternoon leaders and businesses will talk about the innovation and deployment of clean technologies.

Finance at COP26

• Wednesday 3 November

Finance Day starts with Chancellor Rishi Sunak laying out the progress on climate finance, which channels funding from rich countries responsible for high emissions to developing countries to help them cut emissions and adapt to climate change. This has been a thorny issue as rich countries have not yet delivered the amount promised.

UN special envoy and Mr Johnson’s finance advisor for COP26, Mark Carney, will then showcase the steps taken by the global financial sector to help reach net zero.

The rest of the day will see discussions around private climate finance and how to enhance support for developing countries.

• Thursday 4 November

The fourth day is focused on energy and in particular coal. The UK led the world in committing to phase out coal and will be hoping for similar commitments on this day. G7 leaders already made coal pledges this July.

Two panel sessions, featuring senior government figures and international organisations, will announce and discuss new measures to scale up clean power more quickly.

The afternoon will see speeches by energy ministers from the UK, India and across the world and an event looking at the phase out of coal globally.

Youth engagement at COP26

• Friday 5 November

The fifth day is dedicated to youth and public empowerment. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (YOUNGO) will present a global youth statement, laying out their climate actions and what they want to see from global leaders.

Activists, business leaders and ministers will look at what more can be done to create a whole society approach to climate action.

COP26 President Alok Sharma and Italian minister of ecological transition, Roberto Cingolani, will discuss the outcomes of a youth summit held in Milan in September.

An event focusing on the health of the ocean and global support for the protection of at least 30% of all oceans by 2030 will also take place.

• Saturday 6 November

Nature and land use are in focus on the sixth day, with the headline event in the morning aimed at tackling deforestation.

In the afternoon governments, policymakers and farmers will explore sustainable agriculture and initiatives from the food, finance and banking, and global innovation sectors to protect nature will also be presented

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Thunberg thumbs up as she arrives for COP26 by train

Greta Thunberg is due to speak to tens of thousands of campaigners who will be taking part in the Coalition’s Global Day for Climate Justice rally as well.

The demonstrators, calling for governments to commit to cutting emissions, will be marching from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

Demonstrations are also due to take place in London and other cities across the world.

There is then a day off on Sunday.

Energy at COP26

• Monday 8 November

The second week begins with a focus on adaptation – which means coping with a changed climate, and has been underfunded so far – and Loss and Damage, which is the inevitable consequences of human-caused climate change. It is another key pillar of climate policy and a thorny issue.

It starts with representatives from communities on the frontline of climate change sharing their experiences and outlining what countries should be doing to help.

The headline event will see ministers and leaders commit to building a more climate-resilient future and how they will contribute.

Talks exploring the losses and damages from climate change will also take place and the day will finish with a global tour of how countries are tackling the crisis.

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What would a successful COP actually look like?

• Tuesday 9 November

This day will explore how women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and the importance of their leadership, as well as the science crucial to limiting the temperature rise to 1.5C.

Headline events include one about advancing gender equality in climate action and another discussing the August UN scientists’ report and how to keep 1.5C in reach.

The flagship innovation event in the afternoon will explore clean energy solutions from around the world.

• Wednesday 10 November

The summit will then look at the mass market for zero-emission vehicles and the establishment of ‘green shipping corridors’. Shipping is notoriously hard to decarbonise.

Leaders from the car market who have committed to 100% zero-emission vehicles sale by 2040 or earlier, will host the headline event.

The aviation sector and road freight industry are also on the table.

Transport at COP26

• Thursday 11 November

This is the last day with a dedicated programme, which is devoted to cities, regions and the built environment. Buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global CO2 emissions.

National, regional and city leaders and the private sector will talk about encouraging collaborative climate action.

Panellists will discuss environmental action taking place at a national and local level.

• Friday 12 November

On this day negotiations are due to close, but previous COPs have overrun.