COP21 - the 2015 Paris Climate Conference
The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties.
The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation. The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realised and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created. In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, has resulted in the following agreements:
- To keep global temperatures below 2.0 degrees C above pre-industrial times, and tend to limit them even more to 1.5 degrees C.
- To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
- To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years, so they scale up to the challenge
- For rich countries to help poorer regions by providing “climate finance”, which helps to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
- UNFCCC, 2015. The official agreement of the COP21.
- COP21. An interactive overview of the individual agreements.
- Official COP21 website.
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