The Importance of COP: Taking Action Against Climate Change
COP: United Nations’ Framework for Fighting Climate Change
The COP (Conference of the Parties) is the key decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), established in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and enforced in 1994.
Through this powerful framework, the United Nations has equipped itself with a comprehensive action plan to combat global warming and its devastating consequences.
1. The Journey to COP22: Advancing Global Climate Action
Since its inception in 1994, the UNFCCC Secretariat was initially located in Geneva but later moved to Bonn after the first Conference of the Parties (COP1) held in Berlin. Over the years, a total of twenty-one COPs have taken place, with the most recent one being organized in Paris last December. The upcoming COP22 is scheduled to be held in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 7 to 18, 2016.
The primary purpose of COP is to structure the collaborative efforts of the Convention’s Parties in addressing climate change. Annually, COP convenes to evaluate and assess the implementation of the UNFCCC and any additional legal instruments adopted by the body, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. These annual conferences on climate change organized by the United Nations are commonly referred to as COP.
2. Safeguarding the Environment for Present and Future Generations
The main objective of the Framework Convention and its associated legal instruments is to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, preventing “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The term “anthropogenic” denotes the effects caused by human activity.
According to the UNFCCC, certain regions are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Small Island Developing States (SIDS), low-lying coastal areas, arid or semi-arid zones, and developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems are examples of such areas. They experience extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, desertification, and more.
3. Collective but Differentiated Responsibilities of Parties
During the COP, member States, who share collective but differentiated responsibilities, strive to reach agreements on reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities. They assess the progress of their commitments and review the implementation of the Framework Convention and other legal instruments endorsed by COP. Preparatory negotiations sessions are typically conducted to optimize the agenda and discussions.
As of today, there are 197 Parties to the Convention, including 196 States and the European Union. Notably, Palestine joined the Convention in March 2016, demonstrating the widespread recognition of the urgent need for global collaboration in addressing climate change.
In conclusion, the COP plays a vital role in advancing international efforts to tackle climate change. By providing a platform for dialogue, negotiation, and collective action, it aims to safeguard the environment for present and future generations. As the world continues to face the challenges posed by climate change, the COP remains a crucial mechanism for promoting global cooperation and implementing effective measures to combat this pressing issue.