HomeEducationSustainability EducationGreat opportunity for UMN faculty, staff, and grad students to observe international climate change policy making at COP26

Great opportunity for UMN faculty, staff, and grad students to observe international climate change policy making at COP26

UMN COP26 delegation applicants must fill in this form by August 27, 2021 11:59pm.


The University of Minnesota (UMN), through the Institute on the Environment (IonE), holds official “observer” status with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hosts the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). The UMN and IonE offers an opportunity for UMN faculty, staff or students to gain observer status at the COP26 climate talks, or related events, if they and the UMN community would substantially benefit. A diverse COP26 delegation drawn from various UMN campuses, colleges and disciplines is sought. All prospective observers should have strong interest in international climate policy. Faculty, researchers, post-docs, graduate and professional students are encouraged to apply to attend COP26. Preference will go to those with research interests or projects that directly relate to climate change policy.

UMN’s Observer Delegation to Glasgow, Scotland for COP26

COP26 will occur October 31-November 12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland (https://ukcop26.org). UMN is an official “research and independent non-governmental organization” (RINGO) (https://ringosnet.wordpress.com) in the UNFCCC, and thus may send observers to COP26. Like most RINGO organizations, the UMN splits the delegation of observers, with half slotted to attend in Week One (Oct 31-Nov 6) and the other half in Week Two (Nov 6-Nov 12). This system allows more people to attend. Past UMN delegations have been 8-12, or 4-6 each week.

Required Form

This form is required for University of Minnesota community members interested in attending COP26, related UNFCCC meetings, future COP sesions (COP27, etc.), unofficial events affiliated with the COP sessions (such as programs for “civil society” that are hosted by the country hosting the COP) or related meetings.

Form Does Not Guarantee Attendance at COP26

Filling out this form is necessary to attend a COP as a part of a UMN delegation, but does not guarantee attendance, as delegation size is strictly limited by the UNFCCC.


The UMN internal deadline for COP26 will be August 27, 2021, at 11:59pm, unless an extension is determined to be needed. The official UNFCCC deadline to nominate delegates to COP26 is August 31, 2021, but the UMN nominee list can be changed, including adding new people, through the UNFCCC final confirmation deadline of October 22, 2021. The UMN delegation size will be set by the UNFCCC by Sept 6, 2021. All observers in the UMN delegation must be confirmed between Sept 6 and Oct 22, 2021, and all required information must be provided to the UNFCCC.

Travel Must Be Self-Funded

AS ALWAYS, TRAVEL COSTS ARE AT THE RISK OF INDIVIDUALS DECIDING TO PAY FOR AND ARRANGE TRAVEL. It is likely that Covid19 rules and protocols will change, and refunds may be difficult to obtain or not possible.

NO FUNDING is provided by UMN for travel, lodging and other expenses related to COP sessions or any related UNFCCC meetings. COP meetings themselves have no registration cost. Flights and modest accommodations in Glasgow, Scotland (for a week) are estimated to be in the range of $1,500 to $2,500, but could be more. Past UMN delegation members sought travel funds from their departments, student organizations and fundraising.

COP Related Meetings

Note that COP related meetings, such as the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement” (APA), are held at the UNFCCC offices in Bonn, Germany in the months prior to the COP session. Most often, no one from UMN makes plans to participate in these meetings, so it is generally easier to get an observer pass to attend such a meeting than it is to attend the COP itself.

Limits on UMN Observer Delegation Size

In 2019, UMN got 6 observer spots for COP25 (per week, so 12 total) in Madrid. In 2018, UMN got 5 spots for COP24 in Katowice, Poland. UMN got 4 spots for COP23 in Bonn and 5 for spots for both COP22 and COP21, in Morocco and in Paris. Delegations can be split into groups for weeks one and two, but observer passes cannot be “shared” by day within either week. There are no clever ways to add people to the delegation.

Covid19, Vaccination & Travel to Scotland

Be aware that with the rise of the Delta variant of Covid19 and increasing cases in various countries, there is significant uncertainty surrounding the COP26 meeting, which in the past has drawn well over 20,000 people together. All UMN applicants to attend COP26 will be fully responsible for their own determination of eligibility to travel. Currently, the Scottish government states, “If you’re fully vaccinated, from 4am on 2 August, you no longer need to self-isolate if you’re traveling to Scotland from an amber list country [including the USA] and have been fully vaccinated in one of the following countries [including the USA]. ‘Fully vaccinated’ means that you’ve had your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through approved sources, at least 14 days before you arrive in Scotland.” https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/pages/red-amber-and-green-list-countries/ UMN COP26 Travelers Must Register in the UMN “International Travel Registry”
FAILURE TO REGISTER THROUGH THE UMN, AND TO FOLLOW POLICIES, WILL LEAD TO LOSS OF YOUR COP BADGE. Be aware that UMN policIES may change if Covid19 cases rise. UMN policy requires that all international travel be registered in advance with the appropriate travel registry, for faculty, staff or students. This policy applies to all University-purpose travel by faculty, staff, and students. https://global.umn.edu/travel/covid19/#/

News on COP26

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) provides regular, detailed reports on the status of the climate talks and related proceedings, such as:

“The delayed 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which binds over 190 Parties, will take place in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom. It will be one of the pivotal events of 2021, with a focus on countries increasing the ambition of their commitments to tackle the climate emergency.

The event is part of the so-called ‘2021 super year’ of milestones linking climate, nature and people. IIED researchers and partners will be present throughout the two-week gathering, focusing on issues such as getting climate finance to the local level and supporting negotiators from the least developed countries.”

– https://www.iied.org/un-climate-change-conference-cop26

COP26 Coverage

Livestreaming of many COP26 climate negotiation sessions will be freely available at https://unfccc.int during COP26. Coverage of UMN COP26 observer experiences will be available here, and through social media. Look here for an announcement on when the UMN observer delegation will be speaking on campus, upon their return.

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