“COP” stands for the Conference of the Parties, which is the main decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In other words, officials and representatives from all 197 countries in the UN meet to discuss and coordinate international action on climate change. The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 – this year will mark the 23rd conference.
The 2015 Paris Agreement and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol were both agreed at past COPs. The ultimate aim of both of these treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent human civilisation from further changing the climate and avoid the consequences of this.
The technical workings of COP are complex, with many subsidiary bodies working on separate issues. All states are represented, and are invited to review the running of the UN climate process, and to decide how to promote the effective implementation of agreements made at COP.
Scientists and researchers, as well as state leaders and politicians, attend, in order to provide with the background information necessary to ensure the right policy choices are made. They are crucial at the decision-making stage, while state governments are responsible for implementing the resulting policies. The process of establishing the terms of the Paris Agreement in 2015 involved asking countries to submit their own pledges about what they wanted to contribute or achieve in advance, in the hope that allowing countries to set their own terms would create more achievable goals and hold them accountable to their promises. This approach has been adopted in subsequent COPs.
At COP23, the conference will take place in two zones: one for negotiations, meetings, delegation offices and media facilities, and the other for climate action events, exhibits, and media activities. Information-sharing and education will take place alongside the formal administrative process.
The conference this year, COP23, will take place from 6th to 17th November in Bonn, Germany and will be presided over by the Government of Fiji (although Fiji won the bid to host COP23, it doesn’t have big enough facilities to host the conference itself). Its main focus will be continuing to create guidelines for the implementation of the details of the Paris Agreement, covering a wide range of issues from emission reductions to adaptation. The overarching goal is for these guidelines to be completed in 2018 at COP24, which will take place in Poland.
OCS at COP!
OCS will provide daily updates from inside the COP throughout the fortnight of the conference. We will make sure to keep you up-to-date on our website and social media!
OCS Media and Research Team
The latest in climate science and policy from the OCS team.