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COP26 roundup

14 November 2021

The UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, took place in Glasgow from 31 October - 13 November 2021. Global leaders, decision makers, NGOS, workers, Unions and activists came together over the fortnight as delegates and observers in the hope to come to joint agreements on maintaining the agreed targets of keeping global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

Climate crisis: workers united for urgent action - statement from the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group [4mb]

Progress has been made in some areas, including methane reduction targets, deforestation, cutting coal power and increasing finance provision under loss and damages from climate change. COP26 has also seen the number of UN members states with net zero (carbon) targets increase from 30% at the last COP 2 years ago, to 90%.

COP26 conference delegates Despite the positive steps, we need to push our government for greater ambition, demonstrable action, and financing and resourcing to deliver on targets.

Find out more about the outcomes of COP26 here.

Marianne Quick and Meg Baker, UCU Environment team, were in Glasgow for COP, attending and contributing towards the events below.

Education & environment ministers' summit - 'Together for Tomorrow'

UCU were a supporting partner to Mock COP26/ SOS-UK who were the key youth partner organisation co-convening the first ever meeting of education and environment ministers at a COP. The event was held by the UK Department for Education, UNESCO, the Italian government and Mock COP/SOS-UK.

COP26 conference rostrum The summit led to c20 national pledges (Part 1 here - Greece at 5:15 is prob the best - and part 2 here) and this declaration, which applies to the UK and Italian governments.

Watch the full recording of the event here. Phoebe Hanson delivered the Mock COP26 keynote at 33mins 21seconds.

UK Department for Education launch climate change & sustainability strategy

The UK government used the education and environment ministers' summit at COP26 as launchpad for their new climate change and sustainability strategy. The strategy is out for review until end of March 2022.

Key areas covered in the strategy include:

  • climate education
  • green skills and careers
  • the education estate
  • operations and supply chains.

UCU are working with other unions to produce a joint response to the strategy and are working to ensure unions are engaged with during the review process for insurance that the needs of the workforce to deliver the new strategy are adequately considered and provided for.

Find further information on the government's strategy here.

COP26 executive secretary International trade union movement - ITUC side event at COP26

'The imperative of a Just Transition for the workforce to save our climate, lessons from the unions'

If we are to achieve a Just Transition for net zero or even better, a zero carbon world, we need to bring the workforce with us. ITUC hosted a side event at COP where delegates discussed exactly that.

Read the ITUC statement on COP26 here.

Education International have produced a useful toolkit for education unionists on climate education advocacy, introducing the processes of global climate policymaking: Teach for the Planet | An Education Unionist's Guide to Climate Education Advocacy (

We are also supporting the Education International manifesto for quality climate education for all. We encourage UCU members to sign up to this too.

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Last updated: 3 May 2023