Conference of the Parties (COP)
What is it?
The COP is the governing body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This body is made up of representatives from countries that have signed the Convention. These representatives meet periodically to make decisions that will implement the Convention’s aim. This aim is ultimately to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
When do they meet?
Since 1995, the COP have met annually to make decisions about human impact on the climate system. Much focus is concentrated on the decisions that will be made in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris because there is international pressure for binding global emissions reductions targets to be set, after the commitment to do so that was made during the COP18 in Doha, Qatar, in 2012. The major polluters also seem more prepared to meet this challenge.
195 countries are Parties to the Convention. The Convention divides participating countries into three main groups, each with different commitments:
Annex I: These are mostly industrialized countries that were either part of the OECD in 1992 or economies in transition (EIT), such as the Russian Federation, the Baltic states and some Central and Eastern European states. These countries are commited to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% by 2012 and 18% by 2020 compared with their 1990 emissions. Some countries have made stricter targets for themselves.
Annex II: These include the Annex I OECD countries, but not the EIT. In addition to their own emissions reduction targets, Annex II countries are obliged to provide financial and technological support to developing countries so the latter can grow sustainably.
Non-Annex I: These are developing countries. These countries have no emissions reduction commitments under the UNFCCC.
Observers are also allowed to attend the COPs. This group consists of United Nations bodies, other agencies and organisations and NGOs.
What has been done?
Thus far, the COP meetings have discussed a range of issues of climate and environmental concern have been discussed. There is increasing hope and expectation that the upcoming COPs will see stringent legally binding international targets. From the meetings so far, reports and recommendataions are produced that encourage countries to adhere to national and international targets:
|Meeting||Year||Location||Key issues and outputs|
|COP 1||1995||Berlin||The Berlin Mandate|
|COP 2||1996||Geneva||Accepted IPCC findingsRejected “harmonized policies”|
|COP 3||1997||Kyoto||The Kyoto Protocol|
|COP 4||1998||Buenos Aires||2-yr action plan to implement Kyoto Protocol|
|COP 5||1999||Bonn||Technical meeting|
|COP 6||2000||The Hague||COP suspended with no commitments reached, to be continued in COP 6 bis|
|COP 6 bis||2001||Bonn||Agreements on flexibility mechanisms, carbon sinks, compliance and financing|
|COP 7||2001||Marrakech||Agreements on international emissions trading, compliance, flexibility mechanismsMarrakesh Accords|
|COP 8||2002||New Delhi||Problems with ratification of Kyoto Protocol|
|COP 9||2003||Milan||Adaptation Fund established|
|COP 10||2004||Buenos Aires||Buenos Aires Plan of ActionPotential post-Kyoto mechanisms|
|COP 11||2005||Montreal||Kyoto Protocol enters into force|
|COP 12||2006||Nairobi||Five-year action plans adopted|
|COP 13||2007||Bali||Bali Action Plan|
|COP 14||2008||Poznań||Finance for developing nationsForest protection mechanism|
|COP 15||2009||Copenhagen||Small “political accord”|
|COP 16||2010||Cancún||Green Climate Fund|
|COP 17||2011||Durban||Legally binding deal commitmentGreen Climate Fund developed|
|COP 18||2012||Doha||The Doha Climate Gateway|
|COP 19||2013||Warsaw||Durban Platform advanced|