What is COP 21?
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it. The agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions. In April 2016, 174 countries signed the agreement in New York, and began adopting it within their own legal systems.
According to the organizing committee at the outset of the talks, the expected key result was an agreement to set a goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2 °C per year compared to pre-industrial levels”. The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century. In the adopted version of the Paris Agreement, the parties will also “pursue efforts to” limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. The 1.5 °C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050, according to estimates.
Prior to the conference, 146 national climate panels publicly presented draft national climate contributions (called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”, INDCs). These suggested commitments were estimated to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. For example, the EU suggested INDC is a commitment to a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.
The agreement establishes a “global stocktake” which revisits the national goals to “update and enhance” them every five years beginning 2023. However, no detailed timetable or country-specific goals for emissions were incorporated into the Paris Agreement – as opposed to the previous Kyoto Protocol.
Read also: My review of Bill Gates’ book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.