Back in March 1995, Berlin in Germany played host to the first ‘COP’ conference, beginning an annual affair that had continued to capture the imagination of citizens and activists from across the globe.
More recently, Glasgow hosted the 26th iteration of COP, with this the largest global meeting of its type in history and one that continued the quest to reduce carbon emissions throughout the world.
But what does COP26 stand for, and what exactly does the conference mean for small businesses?
What Does COP 26 Mean?
In simple terms, COP stands for the ‘Conference of Parties’, with this describing the single biggest global and annual meeting about climate change.
This years event, which took place in Glasgow between Sunday 31st October and Friday 12th November, saw every participating country (197 in total) in the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) convene to discuss targets and actions in relation to mitigating the impact of climate change and limiting human interference.
As the name suggests, this is the 26th COP event, with one having been held every single year since its inception in March 1995.
A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emissions inventories that are submitted by the parties, before using this data to assess the effectiveness of mitigating measures and the progress made in tackling the core issue of climate change.
What Has COP Achieved So Far, and What are the Objectives of COP26?
Not all COPs have been created equal, of course, with some far more generative and productive than others.
For example, COP3 and COP21 led to two huge global agreements, namely the Kyoto Protocol that created worldwide carbon markets and the 2015 Paris Agreement where countries agreed legally binding and long-term emissions targets.
However, this year’s iteration is particularly important and seminal, with this five years on from COP21 and the initial commitment to the Paris Accord. This required all countries to strengthen their climate change commitments every five years, so COP26 is the first acid test of what has been achieved to date.
Certainly, much has been achieved in terms of shifting the attitudes of small and medium-sized businesses, from startups to those listed on trading platforms such as the MT4.
In the build-up to COP26, thousands of firms committed to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050, primarily by supporting the UN’s Race to Zero campaign.
In addition to contributing to positive environmental change, such firms can also benefit economically from reducing their carbon emissions. For example, improved sustainability can drive higher growth and profits by attracting a larger number of younger customers, while creating a long-term and sustainable development plan.
The rise of green finance is also enabling proactive SMEs to grow their ventures sustainably, with this crucial to the achievement of COP26 objectives at the macro level.