What actually happens at COP?

What actually happens at COP?

Yesterday the world descended on Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP26, as it’s known. But as world leaders, activists, and even David Attenborough, took to the podium, a lot of people are asking: what are they actually doing?

The aim of COP26

The aim of COP26 is to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement (where countries agreed to try to limit global warming to 2C - but ideally 1.5C) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What happens at COP?

COP is essentially a series of debates and negotiations about how to limit climate change – as well as reviewing countries’ progress. This can result in new rules and treaties, like the Kyoto protocol. 

Each day has a different focus, from climate finance and energy to youth empowerment, nature and land use.

Who is attending?

Over 100 world leaders will be attending, as well as 25,000-50,000 other attendees including members of the press and media, representatives of observer organisations, and non-governmental organisations.

Who is not attending?

Most notably, Russia and China will not be attending COP26. This is especially disappointing as China is responsible for 27 per cent of global emissions, however the country has committed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 (an upgrade to its climate change plans it had previously submitted).     

The built environment

Of most interest to Elmhurst Energy Consultancy is the focus on cities, regions and the built environment, taking place on Thursday 11 November.

We specialise in improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, as well as helping companies report on their energy use and carbon emissions- so we’re interested to see what will be proposed!  

When you consider that 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from heating our buildings, we feel that addressing the UK’s ‘leaky’ housing stock is a good place to start. Forget greenwashing buildings with Solar PV and a heat pump, if you have a hole in your bucket – fix it. Then we can work on the rest.

Our next issue would be how we measure the energy efficiency of buildings; there needs to be an acknowledgement of the performance gap that exists between how a building performs on paper and how it performs in the wild. If it differs, (in the largest study undertaken, the thermal performance gap was as much as 60%!) then we need to ask why and address it. Post Occupancy Evaluation is vital when checking the energy performance of a property and ensures buildings are performing as they should.

And finally retrofitting… we need a robust system in place to ensure that we are properly measuring and evaluating retrofit improvements to a building. This means measuring actual performance (not predicted) before and after energy efficiency measures are installed. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Our hopes for COP26

We hope that COP26 will inspire world leaders to adopt ambitious climate targets, supported by thought-out investment programmes that are properly measured and managed.

We’ve heard enough talk. Let’s see some action!    


Article published 02/11/21

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