WHAT is COP26?  

By Karen D. Kendrick-Hands, ESRAG Co-founder, past chair and current Collaborations Director.


COP26 means the 26th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ). COP 26, delayed for a year by the COVID19 pandemic, will be held in Glasgow, from October 31 through November 12, 2021. The 197 nation parties to the UN’s 1992 international climate treaty are developing climate solutions with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees C. The Kyoto Protocol of 2009, and the Paris Agreement of 2015 are means to that end. 

In addition to each country’s “party delegates “from, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Rotary International (RI), which are accredited with the UN, send “observer delegates.” At this first COP since RI added the Environment to its causes, RI will have a five-person delegation of observers in support of its commitment to:

•Address the cause of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases,

•Strengthen ecosystems and communities affected by climate change,

•Address environmental justice issues and public health concerns.

In 2018, I attended COP24 in Katowice, Poland as Rotary’s first observer delegate to a UN climate conference.

(Read about my experience in eight blog posts)


I am a member of this year’s delegation as well, on behalf of ESRAG. 

The last day of COP 24, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on civil society to engage, noting that the science is moving faster than world leaders. I believe he was speaking to Rotary, as a premier example of civil society. One delegate noted that the UN process needs a ‘distributed network of community leaders’ to make the promised national pledges to reduce emissions and increase adaptation a reality.  

One way to engage is for Rotary to work within the UN-provided framework, Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) (add this link: https://unfccc.int/topics/education-and-outreach/resources/ace-guidelines, 6 areas in which Rotarians excel: 

  • Education 
  • Training, 
  • Public Awareness,
  • Public Participation
  • Public access to information (transparency) 
  • International Cooperation

Call to action:

Follow the activities of Rotary’s COP26 delegation on ESRAG’s COP 26 site., [Link Esrag.org/cop26], and talk about our work in your club and community.  

We must connect ourselves and our clubs within our communities to ensure that the promises and ambition of COP26 become the reality of meaningful decarbonization, adaptation and resilience at home. I aim to return from COP26 with specifics to share and renewed commitment to make a difference in our long, shared journey to climate solutions. Together: we can, we will, we must make a difference and serve to save lives by acting on climate solutions. 

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