From November 30 to December 11 in Paris, France will welcome the COP 21, the 21st Conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The COP21 is the largest diplomatic event ever organized in France. It will bring together 196 signatories and welcome more than 40,000 people at the COP21 site in Paris-Le Bourget.
What is a COP?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro World Summit in 1996. This Framework Convention is a universal convention that recognizes the existence of human-cause climate change and gives industrialized countries the primary responsibility to fight against this phenomenon.
The Conference of Parties (COP), composed of all “party” states, constitutes the supreme organ of the Convention. It meets every year during global conferences where decisions are taken to respect the objectives of fighting against climate change. The COP that will take place in Paris will be the 21st of the UNFCCC. The diverse countries are represented by delegations of negotiators and ministers. France, for example, is represented by a multi-ministry negotiation team composed of experts from several ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Food Industry and Forests. International organizations can take part in the COP as observers, as well as NGOs and representatives of civil society. They participate in open sessions.
What happens at the COP?
COPs in general last two weeks, even if they can sometimes be prolonged one or several days. Lots of negotiations play out at the end of the COP during long nights of debates between different parties. The days are scheduled with different negotiation sessions. Meetings are also organized with civil society and negotiators can take part in these side events – themed conferences that take place outside of the formal negotiations that are designed to help clarify a subject on a particular theme.
What are the objectives of France for the COP21?
Greenhouse gasses have long been emitted principally by developed countries, but countries with developing economies have now passed them as emitters. In order for the climate goals reflect this new international context, the Durban climate conference in 2011 set a clear mandate for the 196 UNFCCC parties: In 2015, reach a new climate agreement that applies to all countries that will take effect in 2020. To guarantee the universality of the agreement, each state must submit a “contribution” to the agreement this year.
The objective of the COP21 is to define a framework of action that allows for keeping average global warming below 1.5° or 2° C, to adapt society to climate disruptions and to prioritize low-carbon development with the participation of all parties.
For more information on the COP 21 climate change conference, check out these documents: