COP26 1-12 November 2021, Glasgow - resources for trade unions

What is COP26?

In brief... 

The Conference of the Parties, or COP, is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its 195 member countries meet annually for 2 weeks to, in theory, get to grips with the climate crisis. The '26' demonstrates that this will be the 26th such event. Young climate campaigners were not even born when this process started, and yet our global addiction to fossil fuels has still not been curbbed.

In 2015, in Paris, a big step was taken where all the member states signed up to an agreement to aim to limit warming to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (avoiding some of the most catastrophic impact, but still harming many people and ecosystems). However, the agreement involved very little in the way of practical commitments to decarbonise or to transfer wealth from richer, heavily polluting countries to poorer nations who are suffering the impacts of climate change. The pledges that were made would set our world on a course not for 1.5C warming, but a deadly 3.5C or 4C.

The usefulness of Paris depended on increasing these commitments at subsequent meetings. Especially around taking action right now, not just setting long-term targets.

Spoiler: this process (ratcheting up commitments) hasn't really happened. Governments around the world have comprehensively failed to take real action on the climate crisis. The December 2019 summit in Madrid was not a success, and of course the current pandemic meant that the Glasgow 2020 conference has been postponed until 2021.

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, there will as ever be powerful vested interests resisting real change, instead promoting the continuation of fossil fuel dependence through false solutions such as offsetting. Campaign against Climate Change will be working with others across civil society to use the COP as a moment to strengthen the climate justice movement - in Scotland, in the UK and internationally to build power for system change.

Find out more

The COP26 Coalition held a series of six webinars - Boiling Point: Everything you wanted to know about international climate negotiations - you can find the videos here.

Read more about COP26 and climate justice

The November 2020 global gathering, From the Ground Up, discussed many of the important issues in more depth. Some of the session recordings are available on YouTube and several more on Facebook, including Just Transition Now: Building Global Worker Power for Climate Justice

Take action

Campaign against Climate Change is part of a civil society coalition coming together to mobilise mass action around COP26. To join the trade union subgroup, send an email to cop26-tradeunions-request [at]

Model motion for union branches

Email to let us know if you have passed this motion
This union branch notes that:
1.Human-caused climate breakdown is leading to and exacerbating extreme weather events across the globe: heat waves, wildfires, floods and hurricanes, and loss of biodiversity.
2. The IPCC 2018 Special Report has warned of the dire consequences of exceeding 1.5ºC global average warming and that a societal transformation would be needed to avoid this, including halving global carbon emissions by 2030; nevertheless, global emissions have continued to rise.
3. The climate crisis is a social justice issue, with those who have done least to cause the crisis and who are least able to address it facing the worst impacts. We need to mobilise for a just transition which protects and improves workers’ livelihoods, creates a more inclusive society and stops greenhouse gas emissions. 
4. Wealthy, industrialised countries have a responsibility to take on their fair share of emissions reductions; that the UK's target of net zero by 2050 is insufficient to avoid global temperatures rising above 1.5ºC, and that the UK is failing to implement policies to meet even this target.
5. We also face a global and UK crisis of unemployment; that tackling the  Covid-19 pandemic represents an ideal opportunity to invest in climate jobs, in a just transition and a fairer society; and that the global response to this opportunity has been wholly inadequate.
6. The UN COP26 negotiations in Glasgow in November 2021 are crucial for the success of global plans to limit response to climate change; yet the UK government continues to back false solutions like carbon markets and block the transformational changes which are necessary.
7. UK civil society needs to exert maximum pressure on the British government in the coming year for a green recovery and just transition, and to show leadership as COP26 host; that trade unions can play a key role in the COP26 coalition in which UK civil society has been organising as part of the wider global climate justice movement.
This union branch resolves:
To urge our union to join the COP26 Coalition.
To campaign, alongside allies in civil society for massive public investment in a green recovery that tackles the climate and ecological emergencyies, creates climate jobs and is underpinned by a fair deal for workers both here and in supply chains in the Global South.
To join and support the national mobilisations for protests in whatever form they take leading up to and during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021.
To take part in local mobilisations.
To affiliate to the Campaign against Climate Change and take part in the trade union group.
To send this motion to our regional and national organisation.