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

What is COP26?

The COP is an annual summit of all the countries which are part of the UN’s climate change treaty, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or ‘UNFCCC’. There are 197 members of this process and they are known as ‘parties’ to the treaty. The Conference of the Parties, or COP, is when member countries meet annually for 2 weeks to - in theory - tackle the urgent climate crisis devastating our planet. But the '26' in 'COP26' means 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 curbed.

In 2015, in Paris, a significant 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. However, the pledges that were made would set our world on a course not for 1.5C warming, but a deadly 3.5C or 4C.

So the usefulness of the Paris agreement depends on regularly increasing (ratcheting up) these commitments, and on taking action right now to address the crisis, not just setting long-term targets. 

But governments around the world have comprehensively failed to take real action on the climate crisis. Instead of breaking our addiction to fossil fuels, and acting with the urgency the climate crisis needs, rich countries hide behind ‘net zero’ pledges which depend on removing CO2 from the atmosphere on an unfeasible scale. As host, Boris Johnson’s government should be leading the way, but the UK is way off track to meet its climate targets, while international aid has been cut dramatically.

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 and a just transition. We need to ensure that the voices of those most at risk from the climate crisis are heard in and around the summit - this is especially crucial in this year where the Covid crisis and hoarding of vaccines by rich countries threaten equal access to the negotiations. Trade unions should be at the heart of the movement for climate justice and international solidarity, a worker-led Just Transition away from fossil fuel dependency, and against corporate capture of the climate agenda.

Take action

Campaign against Climate Change is part of a civil society coalition coming together to mobilise mass action around COP26. Because of Covid, we are planning for (alongside a massive demonstration in Glasgow) a callout for mobilisations in cities and towns around the UK and across the world on 6th November. There will also be a global climate strike day on 5th November.

To join the trade union subgroup of the COP26 Coalition, send an email to cop26-tradeunions-request [at]

To find out more about linking up with others in your local area to start organising towards November, email

Local meetings coming up (check back for more)

12th June Sheffield G7 / COP26 event 
13th June Glasgow Assembly
15th June Manchester organising meeting 
15th June North East England organising meeting 
16th-19th June Norfolk Climate Summit 
24th June York and Scarborough Climate Summit 
5th July Plymouth Hub 4 COP26
6th July North East England organising meeting 
14th July London organising meeting
14th July Bristol COP26 organising meeting
20th July COP26 West Midlands Launch
27th July Brighton organising meeting

National trade unions supporting mobilisation

PCS are members of the COP26 coalition, NEU, UCU and Unison have all passed national policy. Let us know if your union is supporting.

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 join and urge members to participate in 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.

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