School of GeoSciences Research

COP26 and the climate crisis

After two weeks of intense climate change negotiations – what is the verdict on COP26?

Graphic design of the planet Earth. Text says 'UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021'

COP26 was the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow in November 2021.

It was promoted as our world's last and best chance to tackle the climate emergency.

So – what happened?

Numerous negotiations, announcements and agreements were made by world leaders and thousands of participants from around the globe.  

Some of these included:

  • The Glasgow Climate Pact – setting the global agenda on climate change for the next decade. (However, it is not legally binding).
  • The US-China agreement to tackle CO₂ emissions
  • Promises by over 100 countries to stop deforestation and cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030
  • Financial organisations agreed to back 'clean' technology such as renewable energy and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.


Insights from our experts

Now that the negotiating is done, what is the verdict on COP26?

Two of our world-leading experts have shared their personal opinions and insights into this historical event.

You can read them on our University Impact website:

Was COP26 a success?

Professor Dave Reay reflects on the successes of COP26 and where it fell short.

“It's clear that, while real progress was made, it was nowhere near enough. There were notable successes in terms of agreement on the 'rule book' that underpins the Paris Agreement, and strong multinational initiatives on tackling key issues such as deforestation and methane emissions. Ultimately though, COP26 fell well short of delivering the national commitments that would together limit warming globally to 1.5°C.”

Was COP26 a success?

Good COP or bad COP?

Professor Stuart Haszeldine shares his ‘on the ground’ insights to the working of COP26.

“Being there in person produced a lot of revealing moments.  Incremental progress was made in Glasgow, but change needs to happen faster. The climate does not wait for politics, and it remains headed for an ever deeper crisis.”

Good COP or bad COP?

UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) website

You can find out even more about COP26 on the official website​​​​, such as:

  • COP26 negotiations explained
  • Read the COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact
  • And even full, unedited versions of decisions made during sessions
UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) website
Colourful banner at COP26 march

The importance of COP26

The latest IPCC science reports include crucial contributions from our world-leading researchers. They reveal that humans are 'unequivocally' responsible for global warming.

With some of these changes now 'inevitable and irreversible for centuries to millennia', COP26 was seen as one of the most important climate summits in history.

We've provided the following guide below for you. Each section breaks down the essential points you need to know.

To see the information, simply click on each heading below: