COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. The ‘Parties’ are governments from all over the world. This is the 27th time the ‘Parties’ have met to discuss climate change, so this is ‘COP27’. This year COP27 is taking place in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.
The Parties are the group of nations who signed the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC is a treaty which agreed to stop dangerous climate change, and it was signed by 197 ‘Parties’; 196 countries and the European Union.
The UNFCCC aimed to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous human-caused climate change. Signing it means a country has committed to defining national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a level that protects our climate.
In 1994 most of the world’s governments agreed to meet every year to work together to limit climate change; these meetings are the ‘COPs’.
COP27 will open on November 6th, followed by a World Leaders Summit on November 7th and 8th. The summit will then discuss the topics below. The full programme can be found here.
Finance Day will discuss how governments will mobilise public and private finance for climate mitigation and adaptation. This important discussion addresses how the nations that caused climate change; in the developed world; will help the nations that will be most severely impacted by it; in the developing world.
Science Day will discuss the findings of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC report) and will focus on demonstrating how science and innovation can deliver climate solutions.
Youth & Future Generations Day will discuss how to elevate the voice of young people and the critical role of public empowerment and education in climate action.
Decarbonisation Day will discuss energy-intensive sectors’ plans and policies following the Paris Agreement 2021 and the emerging technology solutions approaches to reducing carbon.
The Adaptation & Agriculture Day will examine food security, how the practical solutions needed to adapt to climate impacts can be delivered, and the measures in place for any potential food crises or losses in the food production chain.
The COP has a rest day on November 13th ahead of a busy second week of negotiations.
On Gender Day, the summit will examine how to progress gender equality and the full, meaningful participation of women and girls in climate action.
Water Day will discuss sustainable water resource management and the solutions needed to improve it.
Ace & Civil Society Day will look at the importance of citizen involvement to help combat climate action.
Energy Day has a specific focus; the transition to green energy and how to effectively speed this process up.
Biodiversity Day will explore the impact of climate change on biodiversity and discuss practical global solutions needed to reduce loss and damage.
The final topic of the COP will explore green solutions to issues such as sustainable cities and transport as well as waste management.
You might think a meeting about climate change has lots of scientists at it! In fact, most people who attend the COP meetings are not scientists at all, they are government negotiators, politicians, and the press. The science research is done before a COP; the meeting is for those who will write the science into law to discuss it. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assesses climate science and publishes their findings in reports. The latest report found that climate change is now widespread across the globe, rapid and intensifying and that stabilising our climate requires strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions soon. You can read the latest IPCC climate change report here. The aim of the COP is to work out how to implement the changes recommended on the basis of the science.