The last G20 summit and the next OPEC meeting are overshadowing the COP 24 that is taking place these days in the Polish city of Katowice.
What are COPs really?
In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in New York, entered into force in 1994 and has been ratified by 195 countries (Parties to the Convention). The main objective was to promote and supervise norms and policies to control climate change and its approach. With this agreement, the signatory countries agreed to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere at levels that prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.
The COPs (Conference of the Parties) are annual summits led by the UN that are held every year since 1995 to maintain international efforts to solve the problems of climate change.
Which have been the most important COP’s? Why?
The Convention is a first step, but already at the First Conference of the Parties (COP) of Berlin in 1995 it is recognized that the commitments set do not ensure compliance with the Convention, it is necessary to develop new instruments. Since then, 23 conventions have been held, of which the most important are Kyoto and Paris. The importance of these two summits is given by the establishment of objectives. In some COPs agreements are established and in other work programs. In this way, the Kyoto and Paris summits served to establish objectives and the rest established work programs to achieve them.
Kyoto Summit 1997
At this summit, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. On December 11, 1997, the industrialized countries committed themselves, in the city of Kyoto, to implement a set of measures to reduce greenhouse gases. The signatory governments of these countries agreed to reduce polluting emissions by at least 5% on average between 2008 and 2012, taking as reference the 1990 levels. The agreement entered into force on February 16, 2005, after ratification by the parties of Russia on November 18, 2004.
Paris Summit 2015
At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), held in December 2015, 195 countries signed the first binding global climate agreement.
The Paris agreement was characterized by the consensus of non-binding commitments, and the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Therefore, it is essential to develop subsequent summits where more specific objectives are established.
It recognizes the need for global emissions to reach a ceiling as soon as possible, assuming that this task will take more time for developing countries. In addition, it includes the importance of achieving a path of reduction of emissions in the medium and long term, consistent with a scenario of carbon neutrality in the second half of the century, that is, a balance between emissions and removals of greenhouse gases.
Other important points are the limitation of the global increase of the temperatures below 2 ° C and to try that the rise is not superior to 1.5 ° C, the financing for the measures against the climatic change or the creation of national plans on the climate between now and 2020.
It is established that the Paris Agreement will enter into force when it is ratified by at least 55 Parties that represent at least 55% of the total global emissions. It has been ratified by 184 states parties and entered into force in November 2016.
By 2020, countries have to finish their climate action plans and the summit is the next to last stop on the way to 2020. It will focus on practical initiatives to limit emissions and improve resilience. It will also take stock of the achievements that countries have made and adjust the levels of ambition necessary to achieve the Paris objectives.
The summit will focus on six areas: transition to renewable energies, financing for climate action and carbon taxes; reduce industry emissions; use nature as a solution; sustainable cities and local measures; resilience in the face of climate change.
Marta Serrano | Energy Consultant