COP24 (just one of many confusing acronyms in the world of climate change negotiations) is the 24th Conference of the Parties, this year taking place in Katowice, Poland. COPs are annual two week-long conventions held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty formed in 1992 with, at the time of writing, 196 signatories.
The first COP took place in 1995 in Berlin, Germany and has since seen the creation of the Kyoto Protocol at COP3 (1997) and the Paris Agreement at COP21 (2015). This year’s conference faces minor controversy as a result of its location: Katowice, in Poland, lies in one of the largest coal-producing regions in Europe, a fact which has not gone unnoticed and perhaps with good consequence. The fact that 80% of Poland’s electricity comes from coal highlights what needs to be (one of many) major topic(s) when considering how to effectively tackle climate change: governments must provide their people with the mechanism to transition to a lifestyle which does not rely on fossil fuels. COP24 takes place in a time of urgency, in light of the recent UNFCCC report outlining a worryingly short time-frame in which we must take action, and with climate protests across the world calling for greater commitments from governments to tackle climate change.
However, amongst this urgency, the official goal for this year’s conference remains relatively administrative, with the prevailing buzzwords of “rulebook” and “implementation” outlining the aim to see a finalised consensus on the finer details of the Paris Agreement and its implementation. The first week of COP24 will focus on trying to efficiently and fairly decide on the final text in the rulebook, while the second week will move onto to negotiating how the rules will be adopted.
Topics to be discussed will include how to effectively implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Global Stocktake (evaluating how well we are moving towards our global goals), financing and transparency. The importance of a fair and just final agreement cannot and should not be underemphasised: the next two weeks will set the tone for global action on climate change and will be instrumental in whether we can reach our Paris goals and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
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