What is COP?
COP stands for Conference of Parties – with ‘parties’ meaning the countries that ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The stated and agreed objective of the UNFCCC is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent dangerous levels of human interference with the climate system. Each year, signatories to the Convention meet to advance that objective and to discuss and adopt measures to address climate change and its impacts on our society. This COP will be the twenty-first to take place since the signing of the UNFCCC, hence COP21.
Why is COP21 so important?
At COP17, held in Durban in 2011, nations agreed to establish a new, legally binding agreement to limit global warming by 2015. This year is the final deadline for creating that new agreement, meaning that this COP may be the most important conference on climate change ever held.
If we do not reach a bold agreement this year, we will lose any hope of limiting global warming to 2⁰ above pre-industrial levels, which scientists have told us is the maximum safe limit we can allow. Beyond this limit, climate change may begin to accelerate very rapidly and the impacts of climate change – including rising sea levels, extreme storms, droughts, etc. – will be devastating. Read more about this year’s conference and what we need from an agreement in WAGGGS’ Position Statement on COP 21.
What can I do?
Climate change affects all of us, and we need to speak together with one voice to make sure world leaders hear us on the need for action. Find out about how you can speak out.