Conference of the Parties (COP) - the world’s biggest climate meeting


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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • What is Conference of the Parties (COP)?

Why in news?

  • Tens of thousands will descend on Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), next week to attend the world’s biggest climate negotiation — Conference of the Parties, better known as COP.
  • The 28thedition of COP is scheduled to be held in Dubai.

Conference of the Parties (COP)

  • COP is the annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting
    • In 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, 154 countries signed a multilateral treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
    • It aimed to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.
    • The treaty came into force two years later, and since then, countries which are part of the UNFCCC, meet every year at different venues.
    • Today, there are 198 ‘parties’ or signatories of the Convention.
  • COP was a result of a strong belief in the power of international agreements to tackle environmental problems
    • Policymakers of that era believed in a unified commitment to deal with climate change.
    • Their belief was strengthened by the success of:
      • the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, and
      • a 1991 bilateral agreement between the US and Canada that helped combat acid rain by limiting the emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2).
    • This led to the inception of UNFCCC.
  • The first ever COP took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1995
    • The first edition of COP entailed a discussion on how to implement the UNFCCC.
    • At the meeting, an agreement was reached to meet annually to discuss action on climate change and emissions reductions.
    • In the following two years, another deal was made that placed international obligations on the set of rich and industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by assigned amounts.
    • The agreement would become the Kyoto Protocol as it was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, during the COP-3.
  • COP meetings aim is to review progress towards the overall goal of limiting climate change
    • The annual conference takes place to discuss a global agreement to cut emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the main reason why average global temperatures have been rising.
    • It mostly revolves around negotiations and debates.
    • Sometimes, COP will result in new agreements and treaties, often with the goal of refining targets, agreeing rules or forming binding treaties, like the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Each member country details how they are tackling climate change
    • A crucial part of COP meetings is the review of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
    • An NDC is essentially a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts.
    • It is submitted by those member countries which are also part of the Paris Agreement (2015) and is updated every five years.
  • Paris Agreement (COP 21)
    • The Paris Agreement, also known as COP21, is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
      • It was adopted by 196 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, France in December 2015.
      • The agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016.
    • The Paris Agreement's main objectives are:
      • Limit global warming: Keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C
      • Significantly Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2100
      • Support countries: Strengthen countries' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change
      • Provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change

Q1) What is Rio Earth Summit?

The Rio Earth Summit, also known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 3–14, 1992. The summit was called to discuss environmental protection and socioeconomic development. It was the largest environmental conference ever held, with over 30,000 attendees, including more than 100 heads of state.

Q2) What is United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty that establishes the legal framework for international cooperation on climate change. The UNFCCC's goal is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Source: Five things you need to know about Conference of the Parties (COP), the world’s biggest climate meeting | UNFCCC