COPs for dummies

During the summer 2015, Océan Dayer founded SYFC to participate at COP21. And guess what? A few months later our first delegation left for France!

On December 12, 2015, at COP21 in Paris, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement to combat the climate crisis, known as the Paris Agreement. It aims to to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable zero carbon future. The Paris Agreement for the first time ever succeeded in rallying all member parties, i.e. the entire world behind the climate crisis and singing an agreement with binding clauses. Note that its name is the Paris Agreement, not the Paris Accord, as many world leaders mistakenly call it. Legally speaking, an Accord is basically a non-binding Agremeent, and since the Paris Agreement has some binding clauses, such as on reporting duties, calling it an Accord is downplaying the significant achievement that it represents. The Paris Agreement was decided because the Copenhagen Accord of 2009 was not good enough. 

But what is a “COP”?

COP stays for “Conference of the Parties”. These are large conferences attended by well over 10'000 people and organized yearly by the UNFCCC since the 1990s. Here the parties, which include representatives of almost every nation on earth, negotiate new terms to contain the effects of climate change.


What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement’s central purpose is to limit the global warming to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, with an additional aspirational of 1.5°C (we are at ~1.1ºC above pre-industrial levels today) by pushing its parties, i.e. national governments, to pursue policies that lower their greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement also aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and change finance flows in such a way that they become consistent with a low greenhouse gas-emission and climate-resilient pathway. To reach these ambitious goals, the Agreement calls for the provision of appropriate financial resources, a new technology framework, and enhanced capacity-building, thus supporting action by developing and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for an enhanced transparency framework for action and support.