What is COP26?

COP26 is the United Nations’s (UN) 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties. Being hosted in Glasgow from 31 October-12 November, 2021, the summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement [an international treaty on climate change adopted in 2015] and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

To find out more about COP26, take a look at the conference website.

Why does COP26 matter?

The planet is heating up to dangerously high levels which will cause devastation for everyone and everything on the earth. Action is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change and, for this to have an impact, this needs to be a global collaboration.

COP26 is bringing together governments and organisations from across the world together to encourage key decision-makers to take action to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Each and every one of us can do our bit to make a difference but, ultimately, it’s in the hands of the most powerful to drive wide-ranging, structural changes which can have a significant impact on the world’s emissions. This is why COP26 is so important to facilitate such discussions.

If you were unclear about how urgent it is that action is taken then here are a few interesting statistics:

Global temperature


since 1880

Ice lost

28 tr

tonnes between 1994-2017

Sea level rise


mm per year between 1993-2017

“Sustainability, climate literacy and net zero are at the heart of construction and the built environment sector. Attraction, recruitment and developing existing talent are critical to catalyse the transformational changes needed to address ‘green jobs’ and careers, positively impacting future generations.”

Aled Williams
Executive Director: Innovation and Partnerships





Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep

1.5 degrees

within reach



Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats



Mobilise finance by providing at least


in climate finance per year by 2020



Work together
to deliver

"COP26 presents an opportunity for the world to take immediate action to end the fossil fuel era and start regenerating nature while ensuring that all our remaining natural ecosystems stay intact."

Elizabeth Wathuti
Global South Co-Chair of the Cop26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council and the founder of the Green Generational Initiative

26 activities for COP26

Built for the future

During COP26, and in the weeks after, we will be promoting important events and sharing commentary from our staff, students, alumni and friends of UCEM on the key themes from the conference. This will take the form of 26 pieces of content. Keep an eye out on our Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook channels to keep up to date with it all!

UCEM and the Climate Framework

Read about UCEM and the Climate Framework's launch of our free, online, short course to help built environment professionals be more sustainable

Build better

Watch what this year's UCEM Property Award winner, Julie Hirigoyen, has to say about COP26

UCEM’s ethical and sustainable investments

Watch our director of finance operations, Jim Kerr, explain what our finance team has been doing in order to invest UCEM funds in an ethical and sustainable manner

Tackling the issue of coal consumption

Read about the issue of tackling coal consumption as discussed with our real estate and management tutor, Hazel Lobo

Youth and public empowerment

Here's what our sustainability student ambassador, Kate Andrews, had to say on how young people can be empowered to drive climate action and sustainability.

What meaningful youth leadership looks like

Discover the question 'what does meaningful youth leadership look like?' in this Instagram post

Allowing nature
to thrive

UCEM Honorary Doctorate recipient and the Wildlife Trust's chief executive, Craig Bennett, explains what needs to be done to allow nature to thrive

Adaptation, loss
and damage

Listen to our podcast on adaptation, loss and damage, a discussion with our building surveying programme leader, James Ritson

Addressing global
gender imbalance

Read this guest article by UCEM Chair of the Board of Trustees, Amanda Clack on what needs to be done to address gender imbalance around the world

How can science and innovation be utilised for the good of the planet?

Read about how science and innovation can be utilised for the good of the planet

Green transport: Solutions for the short, medium and long term

Read about green transport and the solutions for the short, medium and long term

A glance at
the Climate

Learn about the Climate Framework with Mina Hasman

All about
The Rapid Planning

Read about the The Rapid Planning Toolkit developed by UCEM and The Prince’s Foundation

How UCEM helps students make a positive difference in the built environment

Learn how UCEM helps students make a positive difference in the built environment, with Amanda Milambo

What needs to change for the built environment to become more sustainable?

Learn what needs to change for the built environment to play its part in becoming more sustainable

A look at
Construction CLC

Here's what UCEM Executive Director - Innovation and Partnerships, Aled Williams, a member of CLC, had to say about COP26

A look at
Part Z

Watch to learn more about Part Z and learn about our free Energy and Carbon in the Built Environment short course

Who is responsible
for driving sustainability?

Read about who holds the most responsibility for driving sustainability in the built environment

Should we prioritise climate change or sustainability?

What’s one thing that
can make a difference?

Thoughts on the outcome
of COP26

Apprenticeships and net
zero carbon emissions aims

Did you know that apprenticeships play a key role in achieving the UK's net zero carbon emissions aims? Watch the video on green apprenticeships to learn more

COP26 –
What’s the verdict?

Read our verdict on the success of COP26

Embedding sustainability
within the curriculum

Read about the topic of embedding sustainability within the curriculum

COP26 reflections –
Was the UK a good or bad host?

Listen to our COP26 reflections podcast discussing the question: Was the UK a good or bad host?

COP26 poll –
Have your say

Cast your vote on the success of COP26!



With a degree in the built environment you can make a positive impact and be at the forefront of the change for a better world. Whatever your academic level, we have a range of programmes to choose from which you can see below.

Online Academy

Our programmes