One of the primary responsibilities of the COP (Conference of the Parties) is to evaluate the national communications and emission records provided by participating nations. Using this data as a foundation, the COP evaluates the impact of actions taken by these nations and their progress towards the Convention’s ultimate goal.
The first COP took place in 1995, hosted in the capital of Germany. During this event, the Berlin Mandate was formulated, comprising a range of flexible commitments and initiatives that nations could select based on their specific requirements and capacities.
Typically, the COP sessions are held in Bonn, the headquarters of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host. Similar to the rotational system for COP Presidency, which encompasses the five recognized UN regions (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and Others), there is a tendency of the COP meetings to also alternate among these regional groups.
Some of the key milestones achieved over the years at the Climate Summits –
- COP 1. Berlin, 1995: The inaugural conference where, the signatories committed to meet annually aimed at discussing global warming and limit emissions.
- COP 3. Kyoto, 1997: The Kyoto Protocol is adopted. This landmark agreement pledged to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized nations and laid the groundwork for the carbon market.
- COP 13. Bali, 2007: The Kyoto Protocol to be replaced by the Bali Roadmap, which includes all countries, not only the developed ones. It outlined a schedule for negotiations towards a new international agreement.
- COP 15. Copenhagen, 2009: The objective of keeping global warming below 2 ºC is is made official. Developed countries pledge to finance developing countries, committing to provide $100 billion a year between 2020 and 2025.
- COP16. Cancun, 2010: The Cancun Agreements formalizes the commitments set out in Copenhagen. The Green Climate Fund is also created mainly for climate actions in developing countries.
- COP17. Durban, 2011: This time, all countries agree to start reducing emissions, including the US, Brazil, China, India and South Africa. They resolved to negotiate a global agreement to take effect in 2020.
- COP18. Doha, 2012: The Kyoto Protocol is extended until 2020 although some major countries, such as the US, China, Russia, and Canada, did not endorse this extension.
- COP20. Lima, 2014: For the first time, all countries agree to formulate and share their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- COP21, Paris, 2015: After 2 decades of negotiations, the Paris Agreement was unanimously adopted to keep global warming below 2 ºC above pre-industrial and continue efforts to limit it to 1.5 ºC.
- COP22, Marrakesh, 2016: The Paris Agreement came into force a few days before the Summit. The negotiations produced three key documents: the Marrakesh Action Proclamation, offering strong political support for the Paris Agreement; the Marrakesh Partnership, designed to bolster climate collaboration until 2020; and the inaugural meeting of the CMA, the decision-making body for the Paris Agreement.
- COP23, Bonn, 2017: Progress was made on the Rulebook to detail how the Paris Agreement will work in practice, with the aim of concluding it in 2018. The summit also introduced the Talanoa Dialogue, facilitating nations in sharing experiences and best practices for achieving the agreement’s goals. A Gender Action Plan was adopted to ensure women’s involvement in climate change decision-making.
- COP24, Katowice, 2018: 2 months before the summit Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its report analyzing the impacts of a 1.5°C global temperature increase, emphasizing the need for heightened urgency in the reduction of emissions.
Lets deep dive at the last two conferences that took place
COP26: Together for our planet
The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 13 November 2021. Here are some key takeaways:
153 countries stepped up by unveiling new 2030 emissions targets. The Glasgow Climate Pact sets the stage for accelerated climate action by establishing crucial rules and systems. Countries committed to returning next year with stronger commitments, ushering in a new UN climate program focused on boosting mitigation ambition. The Paris Rulebook was finalized, providing a comprehensive framework for practical implementation.
- Adaptation & Loss and Damage
80 countries have either Adaptation Communications or National Adaptation Plans in place to enhance resilience against climate risks. The Glasgow Sharm el-Sheikh Work Programme on the Global goal on Adaptation was adopted, driving forward adaptation efforts. A significant increase in adaptation finance was pledged, including a commitment to double 2019 levels by 2025. This marks the first-ever globally agreed-upon financing goal specifically for adaptation.
Developed nations have made substantial progress toward meeting the $100 billion climate finance goal, with a commitment to reach it no later than 2023. Notably, 34 countries and five public finance institutions have pledged to cease international support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector next year, marking a significant step towards cleaner energy transitions.
The Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda will expedite collaboration among governments, businesses, and civil society to achieve climate goals more swiftly. Collaborative councils and dialogues in areas such as energy, electric vehicles, shipping, and commodities will play a pivotal role in delivering on commitments.
COP27: Delivering for people and the planet
Egypt hosted the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on from 6-20 November 2022. Here are some key takeaways:
Countries at COP27 reinforced their dedication to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
A mitigation work program was established in Sharm el-Sheikh, with a focus on rapidly increasing mitigation ambition and implementation. This initiative will commence immediately and continue until 2026, with a review scheduled to consider its extension.
Governments were urged to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets in national climate plans by the end of 2023. Additionally, efforts to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies were accelerated.
- Loss and Damage
Parties agreed to provide funding for loss and damage experienced by vulnerable countries due to climate disasters like floods and droughts. This decision is historic because it recognizes the need for financing to respond to the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
A “transitional committee” was established to provide recommendations on operationalizing new funding arrangements and the associated fund. These recommendations will be considered for adoption at COP28.
A new phase of implementation emphasizes accountability for commitments made by sectors, businesses, and institutions. Transparency in these commitments will be a priority in 2023.
UN Climate Change was tasked with devising a plan to ensure transparency and accountability with non-state actors. The Global Climate Action Portal, which registers pledges, publishes transition plans, and tracks annual reporting, will be expanded.
Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan recognizes that the transition to a low-carbon economy requires substantial investments, estimated at USD 4-6 trillion annually. Achieving this funding will necessitate a comprehensive transformation of the financial system, involving governments, central banks, commercial banks, and more.
Developed countries were called upon to provide resources for the second replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. Welcomed pledges were made to the Adaptation Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the Special Climate Change Fund. Deliberations on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024 were initiated.
Concern was raised regarding the unmet goal of mobilizing USD 100 billion per year by 2020 by developed countries, with a call for them to meet the target.
COP27 emphasized implementation, with decisions aimed at strengthening actions to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. The transition to low-emission and climate-resilient development was deemed ambitious, just, and equitable.
A work program on ‘just transition’ was established to complement mitigation efforts. A just transition is characterized by dialogue and shared agendas between workers, industry, and governments, taking into account geographical, cultural, and social contexts.