AROUND the globe, eyes will be firmly on Scotland next autumn as it aims to ensure that the 26th Conference of the Parties – known as COP26, which will be hosted in Glasgow – is a “world changer” that helps secure genuine progress towards cutting emissions.

When the UN Climate Change Summit takes place at the SEC between November 9 and 20 it will be the largest the UK has ever hosted, with up to 200 world leaders expected to attend for the final weekend.

A programme of events for campaigners, activists and the public – described by some as a people’s summit – is also expected to take place. The nearby Glasgow Science Centre will stage a series of inclusive events.

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The conference is seen as a major crossroads in the battle against global climate change and comes in the year governments are due to review their commitment to cutting ­carbon emissions.

The Paris Agreement, drafted in 2015 and adopted in 2016, sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5C.

Yet last October the world’s leading climate scientists warned there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly increase the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) insisted urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target.

The unconditional pledges and ­targets that governments have made as of December 2019 would limit warming to about 2.8C above ­pre-industrial levels.

Leaders attending the COP26 will be under pressure to agree to enhanced policies that address the gulf. To add to the tensions, talks are due to ­commence just days after the US presidential election on November 3.

Much of the focus in coming months will be on pushing nations to agree updated commitments ahead of the event, as the Madrid summit this month failed to make anticipated progress.

Leading climate change scientist Professor David Reay, of Edinburgh University’s carbon management programme, said: “So far only 80 nations have committed to enhance their commitments, and none of these are the really big emitters, like China and the US.

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“Glasgow is crucial in pushing all nations to up their game, including a big push to get nations to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier – like we have already committed to in Scotland and the UK.”

The Scottish Government announced it considered the country to be in the grip of a climate change emergency in April this year and has targets to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2040. The UK Parliament backed a motion to declare a climate emergency in May but the UK’s net-zero targets are for 2050. Extinction Rebellion is calling for both to reach the target by 2025.

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Reay, who has provided expert evidence on climate change to select committees in the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments, added: “Glasgow is likely the last-chance saloon for the Paris climate goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C. Without big increases in ambition from the biggest economies we’ll have burned through our small remaining emissions before the decade is out.

“The world’s eyes will be on Scotland and Glasgow. COP26 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build international partnerships on climate change, and to share good practice and to co-operate on tackling the ­biggest challenge our civilisation ­faces in the 21st century.”

Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “There’s a growing movement to work together across the UK to make some demands that lead to real change. But it’s also an opportunity to work with climate justice protestors from all over the world.”

READ MORE: Campaigners call for COP26 to be free of fossil fuel lobbyists

They will include activists from countries in the global south already seeing the effects of climate change, including those facing floods and fires, or who are no longer able to grow traditional crops due to droughts. Others, such as those from the Niger Delta, are coping with environmental damage caused by fossil fuel extraction.

Rance claimed the event also provided opportunities for domestic campaigning. “It’s a chance to really shine a spotlight on the hypocrisies of the Scottish Government, who say one thing and do another,” she added. The environmental campaigning group is calling for the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to agree a definite end date for oil extraction and to put in place plans for a just transition to renewables.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I want to ensure Scotland has a meaningful role in COP26 which generates a positive legacy for Scotland and that helps drive forward global ambition and action. COP26 must set the world on course for a net-zero future by mid-century, in a way that is fair and leaves no-one behind.

“I further want the summit to demonstrate what partnerships at all levels can achieve, as well as for Glasgow to be an inclusive COP where all voices are heard in a respectful and collaborative way.

“We will work in partnership with the UK Government, the UN, ­Glasgow City Council and others to deliver a safe and secure environment for COP26 to take place.”