COP – What’s it all about?
The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties.
The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation. The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realised and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.
In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
France will play a leading international role in hosting this seminal conference, and COP21 will be one of the largest international conferences ever held in the country. The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society.
What was the outcome of COP20 in Lima?
In 2014, COP20 held in Lima attracted over 15,000 official delegates, and negotiators concluded talks with the ‘Lima Call For Climate Action’, a draft document that lays the foundations for a new global climate deal.
Alongside COP20, there were more than 400 conferences in which new research projects and initiatives were presented. The Sustainable Innovation Forum 2014 was the largest commercially-focused event during COP20, attracting high profile speakers, celebrities and over 500 pre-approved delegates representing private sector, government, NGO, UN agencies and civil society. During the two weeks of COP20, over 140 press conferences were held and more than 900 journalists from around the world covered the international event.