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Councils urge global leaders to agree urgent climate action at COP26

With the effects of climate change already having a catastrophic impact across the world, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are urging the leaders attending COP26 to urgently agree on significant global climate action before it’s too late.  

The councils are also encouraging their residents to watch the proceedings closely and to find out what this hugely important climate conference means for them.

What is COP26?

Taking place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, COP26 (the Conference of Parties) is an annual UN conference which brings together leaders and negotiators from across the world with the aim of accelerating action to tackle climate change.

The conference will focus on how countries can achieve the goals set out in:

  • The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty that commits all countries to reduce their emissions and to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius, while also trying to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Why is COP26 important?

We are already seeing the consequences around the world from climate change, caused by global carbon emissions, with extreme weather, flooding and major fires happening more regularly and in more places.   If we do not take immediate and significant action to reduce our emissions to strictly limit the increase in global temperatures, the severity and frequency of these events will only increase.  This would result in potentially catastrophic consequences for people around the world, and for our nature and environment. 

At COP26 there will be significant global pressure on the leaders and negotiators to reach agreements necessary to ensure that meaningful climate action will happen as quickly as possible, setting common timeframes for achieving carbon reduction targets, and making new commitments and initiatives for delivering climate action. 

The event will also play a vital role in raising awareness of the climate emergency around the world, and especially across the UK, with different campaigns and events being held across the nation to promote COP26 and bring change. 

Countries review their commitments to the Paris Agreement every five years, and ahead of COP26 they are asked to bring ambitious emission reduction targets to 2030. 

While delegates coordinate the global response to the threat of climate change, the event will also feature a variety of public workshops, presentations and art exhibitions, most of which will also be streamed live on the COP26 YouTube channel where people can access content for free.

What does COP26 mean for residents in South and Vale?

The commitments and initiatives reached at COP will be translated into UK policies, which will then impact our lives and decisions happening locally. 

This year’s conference could result in decisions on funding for local climate action within our communities.

Agreements could be reached on polices that directly affect our daily lives, such as new initiatives on energy use, or commitments that change the way we travel, or how we should protect nature and our environment.  Agreements could impact how we should plan for new developments or how we approach infrastructure.  

The conference may result in decisions that will make retrofitting a realistic option for all homes.  Making necessary changes to improve the energy efficiency of homes, through work such as installing insulation, replacing gas boilers or heating systems, and energy monitoring systems, could make a huge impact on reducing carbon emissions locally and at the global level.

There could also be an impact on the way we work and on our local economy, with many world leading science and technology companies based in South and Vale that will be key in the global effort to tackle the climate emergency.

How could COP26 affect the work of the district councils?

COP26 gives government at all levels the opportunity to galvanise action on reducing emissions. 

In their respective Corporate Plans, South Oxfordshire District Council prioritises ‘protecting and restoring our natural world’ and ‘action on the climate emergency’, while the Vale focuses on ‘tackling the climate emergency’.  These priorities support the work of COP26 and contribute to achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement and the councils’ own carbon neutral targets. 

The Climate Emergency is at the heart of all council projects and ongoing work towards sustainability.  Climate action is also a major consideration in ensuring the councils invest and procure responsibly and ethically.

For more information about the council’s climate action visit

Councillors urge agreements and action

Cllr Catherine Webber, Cabinet Member Climate Emergency and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change on communities around the world, so It’s vital the leaders at COP26 reach agreements necessary to ensure we see a significant increase in global climate action.  The outcome of this conference will affect everyone in terms of how we live and work going forward, and so I’m sure our residents will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings to see how they may be impacted.  

“In the Vale we have our own ambitious carbon reduction targets, however, to become a net zero district we need national and international action to ensure funding is available and to bring about changes in law.  Depending on the outcomes of COP26, there may also be a need for us to adapt and work with others to meet new timescales and initiatives.” 

Cllr Sue Cooper, Cabinet Member for Environment, Climate Change and Nature Recovery at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “COP 26 is a hugely important event.  For this country, it gives us a chance to lead on a global level on the biggest issue in our lifetime, and for people across the world it may be one of our final opportunities to really limit the damage of climate change.  More locally, COP26 may bring about new funding opportunities to better ensure we can take meaningful climate action as a council and in our communities, research and knowledge shared at the COP might provide us with different ways of conducting our work and influence our day to day lives. 

“We look forward to seeing the discussions happening in Glasgow and urge the COP26 leaders to reach decisions that ensure climate action really becomes the world’s priority.”

For more information about COP26 visit the official UK COP 26 website.