The UK government recently announced the first principal partners for the UN climate conference, COP26, scheduled for November 1-12, 2021 in Glasgow. “The UK has today revealed its first sponsors for COP26 as it drives climate action in the run-up to the international climate change summit in Glasgow. SSE, ScottishPower, NatWest Group and National Grid are the first Principal Partners who will support the delivery of a successful and ambitious COP next November,” the government said in a statement.

The key COP26 climate summit was due to have taken place this month in Glasgow, but was postponed to next November due to the pandemic. The Government said all sponsors, who will help shoulder the costs of the talks, have committed to the “Science-Based Targets” initiative to set ambitious goals to cut emissions and draw up credible action plans to achieve them. Plans are required to be in line with what the science says is needed to meet the aims of the international Paris Agreement on climate change to keep global temperature rises to “well below” 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

In a statement announcing the sponsorship, SSE said it is investing £7.5bn in “low-carbon infrastructure” for the UK and Ireland including building the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea. “Flexible thermal, such as that being built at Keadby 2, has a role to play in the transition to net-zero under any pathway and will displace other less efficient generation and support security of supply,” a spokesperson for SSE said.

ScottishPower, SSE and National Grid are investing in low carbon technology and infrastructure such as renewables, while NatWest Group is the leading lender to the renewables sector and has policies to stop lending to coal, oil and gas exploration and fracking, officials said. The energy companies have also confirmed they are developing plans for a £3 billion underwater “superhighway” of high voltage subsea cables to transport renewable power from Scotland, such as wind, to other parts of the UK.

Greenpeace UK campaigner Mel Evans said it was “encouraging that the first Cop26 sponsors are companies that are heavily invested in the renewables transition” and did not include oil and gas companies. “The government has controversially held regular meetings with fossil fuel companies regarding Cop26. They should now be explicitly ruled out as sponsors, to avoid any risk of them greenwashing these vital global climate negotiations.”

What is COP 26 and what does COP stand for?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and will be attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty agreed in 1994. The 2021 meeting will be the 26th meeting, which is why it’s called COP26.