5 Things You Should Know about COP25
by Kristian Gubsch
1. What’s with all these acronyms?
When I first started learning about the Conference of the Parties it was hard to keep straight all the acronyms. Governments love to use them but often it can make things difficult to understand. Some of the most common acronyms used when discussing the Conference of the Parties are UNFCCC, IPCC, and COP. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established to limit greenhouse gas emissions to a point that would prevent significant human interference with Earth’s climate. While this goal is very broad, it establishes a baseline for the UNFCCC to establish non-binding emission limits for member countries (member countries are also referred to as Parties) and create agreements or protocols for the Parties to follow. After the UNFCCC treaty was signed, the first Conference of the Parties (COP) was held and these formal meetings serve as opportunities for global leaders to discuss, assess, and push forward climate change action. The science that informs the climate action that is discussed at the Conference of the Parties stems from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was initially formed in 1988 to prepare a review of climate change science, the impacts of climate change, and to figure out how the world is going to respond to these impacts. Their Assessment Reports, now five in total since 1988, consist of the most comprehensive global analysis of climate change and are an excellent resource to those of us who would like to be more educated on the topic. Now that you have a background in the acronyms, let’s dive into what has happened at previous COPs.
2. What is the Kyoto Protocol and why is it important?
The Kyoto Protocol was the result of the 3rd Conference of the Parties (COP3) in Kyoto, Japan. Basically, this treaty follows along the lines of why the UNFCCC was created: to control anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This plan was a first attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world as countries that ratified the agreement were given maximum carbon emissions levels. Despite this plan, global emissions overall have continued to increase as the plan targeted developed nations like the U.S. and Canada and did not include other big-emitters like India and China.
3. What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement came as a result of the 21st Conference of the Parties with the main goal of the agreement to limit global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, this agreement is non-binding which makes it difficult to hold countries accountable for their promised contributions to the agreement. However, the Paris Agreement was very significant as it was a symbol of almost universal global collaboration towards limiting the effects of climate change as 194 states and the European Union have signed the agreement. I am also well aware that my country, the United States, intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement which will take effect November 4, 2020. Despite this, there are still many Americans who support global climate action and the stance of our government does not necessarily reflect the review of the public majority. My home state of Washington has been a leader in climate change policy and continues to push forward legislation that aims to limit our contribution to the issue. This goes to show that despite the federal stance on the issue, states and, more importantly, individuals, have the potential to make incremental progress in educating their communities. Through this, they can empower local governments and businesses to make the appropriate changes.
4. What is going to be the focus of COP25?
At COP 25, countries will be tasked with reevaluating each of their environmental commitments with many nations still far from their Paris Agreement goals and even those commitments are not estimated to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. COP 25 gives the world an opportunity to reinvigorate ambitious climate actions. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the Paris Agreement are to be submitted in 2020 so this conference is an opportunity to revamp each member country’s contribution. Another desired critical outcome of COP 25 is enhanced outreach to boost overall climate action. Climate change cannot be solved purely on the governmental level, so it is important to ensure private sectors and citizens like us are on board with pursuing more aggressive climate action. According to Patricia Espinosa, the U.N.’s top climate change official, COP 25, “is our opportunity to make major progress on what people throughout the world are demanding—real and lasting action on climate change.”
5. Why did the conference move from Santiago to Madrid?
You may have heard through national headlines that Santiago had to withdraw from hosting two major international summits due to widespread public protests. As a result, COP25 and the APEC summit had to be cancelled and relocated to another venue. Recently, Madrid has stepped forward to organize and host COP25 which is a daunting task considering there is over 20,000 people are expected to attend. These protests began as the Chilean government increased transportation costs, but quickly escalated as over 400,000 Chileans took to the streets to demand better quality healthcare, living conditions, and education. As the protests turned violent, the unprecedented decision to cancel COP25 in Santiago was made and several days later Madrid stepped forward to host the world’s largest conference on climate change.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the Opportunity Fund, Office of Undergraduate Research, and Honors College at Washington State University for funding my housing and meals during my trips to Washington, D.C. and Madrid. I would also like to thank Alaska Airlines for covering the cost of my domestic flights.
5/12/2019 05:33:12 pm
It is nice to see all of the popularity surrounding the COP25. It is sad that Santiago could not hold the conference, but nice of Madrid to step forward and volunteer to take over from Santiago. I also find interesting that states can branch off of the government, at a certain degree, and do what the citizens of that state believe in, rather than what the entire nation believes. Thank you for the background information about COP25 and all of the clarification on the acronyms.
6/12/2019 03:28:54 pm
Although it is unfortunate that the conference could not be held in Chile, it is still excellent that COP25 will still take place under the Presidency of the Government of Chile along with logistical support that the Government of Spain is providing. It will be interesting to see how they intend to use their outreach to try and educate the youth on the severeness of the situation. I believe that since the current unrest among the youth is rising at a high rate, they should seize the moment and try to continue the snowballing of discontent feelings.
9/12/2019 08:45:58 am
COP25 will have a great opportunity to make an impact on climate change. There should be a goal to educate younger audiences on how critical the climate situation is. It is tough to see that Santiago had to step down from hosting, but it could be a great opportunity for Madrid. There will be many people attending and Madrid should put together a great event.
9/12/2019 09:17:01 am
This is a great article, I learned a lot!
9/12/2019 02:47:05 pm
I find it interesting that although an agreement was made to lower the emission of greenhouse gases, at COP3 in 1997, there has been an increase in greenhouse emission due to the exclusion of India and China in the plan. I also find it interesting that although there is more than enough science to prove climate change is a problem, the U.S. continues to politicize the issue and because of this has backed out of the Paris Agreement. Hopefully with the conclusion of COP25, there will be increased efforts to get others on board with more aggressive climate action.
9/12/2019 06:21:33 pm
With the science supporting the increasing climate change caused by us, I was surprised to see America is planning to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.Hopefully at COP25 we can combine the same concept from COP3 with other larger countries and revitalize the Paris Agreement to hold countries accountable.
17/12/2019 08:31:48 pm
I agree with you Emma, I too was surprised the US was pulling out of this very important Agreement. If we do not get this under control the climate will continue to change and it will hurt our crops and travel tourism. It could hurt he USA a lot so I sure hope they re think walking away!!
10/12/2019 07:42:56 am
The COP25 sounds like a amazing opportunity to start a change and make an impact to climate change. Having a science background will increase the chances of making a difference and support the COP25 outlook on this issue. The more people that get involved and the more agreements that are made, I believe the COP25 will make a great change and influence others to do the same.
10/12/2019 10:00:52 am
The protests are allegedly about poor living conditions and expensive transportation. However, is there any chance that the protesters were protesting violently because they disagreed with climate change policies and did not want the COP25 to be held in Santiago?
10/12/2019 01:30:10 pm
I think that COP25 is a great group to have and know about since they are out in the world trying to enhance the outreach to boost overall climate action. More people should know this exists because it is a great way to learn about climate change and how the whole world is trying to fix it. It is reassuring that different countries are working all together to fix a big problem that is happening and that private sectors and citizens like us are on board with pursuing more aggressive climate action.
11/12/2019 05:30:48 pm
I think the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is not the best decision overall for the country. The United States is a global powerhouse and could influence other countries to pull from the agreement which is not the right idea, the agreement is focused on trying to reduce global temperatures and this is a problem that needs to be dealt with. COP25 is a huge influencer in boosting overall climate action and can make a big difference in the world as a whole in taking action.
12/12/2019 06:03:43 am
I find it disheartening that the US is planning to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and that even with protocols in effect, the global temperature is still rising despite efforts to minimize this outcome. This global problem cannot be solved purely based on the decisions that governments make. The general public must be educated that climate change is not an issue that should be politicized, but rather one that should be purely based on the scientific evidence. I hope COP25 will change the outlook on the way climate change is addressed.
12/12/2019 09:04:12 am
I believe the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is not a good decision. Being that The United States is one of the globes super powers and one of the major contributors of emissions i feel like we should stay in the Agreement and follow the guidelines every other country in the Agreement is following. Sure if all the other countries do something they would be a positive change but i believe if the United States would stay and do as the other countries are doing then the change would be even greater.
12/12/2019 09:20:08 am
I agree with Josh. It is not a good idea. The united states and the other super powers have a major effect on if the goals for climate change and reducing pollution are met. Not only that but realizing that climate change can not be solved purely on the governmental level. Getting CEOs of large and small companies involved has a major impact due to the fact that they can make a change much faster than the time the government will take to agree. I'm interested to what works for other countries and how they could be applied in the united states to reduce pollution and help reach our goals in limiting climate change
I agree with Avery and Josh as well. I think that the US needs to figure out a way to solve the global warming epidemic. Working with other countries may help the United States have ideas of ways to reduce increase in global warming and climate change. The help of other countries can help solve our problems.
12/12/2019 11:50:50 am
This article is a great way to educate the younger generation. The fact of the meeting not being able to held in Santiago was a shame but it was fortunate that Madrid was able to hold COP25. Climate change is a major issue and should be taught to everyone to make them aware of the situation.
12/12/2019 05:05:02 pm
The COP25 seems like such a great way to gain control over climate change and I'm glad people are taking a stand. It is very upsetting to hear that the government will take action and help prevent from climate change worsening. The American government made a bad decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement even with scientific evidence that shows climate change becoming extremely detrimental to the earth.
14/12/2019 12:27:01 pm
I personally disagree with the United Stated withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement deal. This is because the world is undergoing Global Warming, and if it keeps going we'll be extinguish. It is up to us right now to make changes and make Earth a better place.
16/12/2019 04:02:54 pm
Why does the United States want to drop out of the Paris Agreement? Should we not be setting an example for other countries? Do they not understand the severity of the problem? How are younger generations suppose to help the climate problem when the adults don't seem worried about? The green house gases are not just going to go away we need a solution, and we need one soon. The climate change is already causing the polar ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise, severe storms and natural disasters.
17/12/2019 04:17:39 am
thank you for all this background info concerning the conference itself and the acronyms. It can be challenging keeping track of all of them, and they’re definitely necessary for one to know. I agree with the others who say that the United States should not be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement deal. We are a global superpower (as well as a major contributor to the toxicity affecting the planet), and should set an example for other countries. This decision could impact other nations and could lead others to withdraw, as well. This is an international problem, and I find it disheartening that the US would drop out in such a time of need.
17/12/2019 04:57:22 am
Why was such a large and important meeting held in Paris? Is there any underlying reason or was it just chosen by random? Also, do you see any future where the United States joins the agreement? Lastly, Do you think that there could ever be the possibility of legal binding force.
17/12/2019 03:37:30 pm
I do not know why we need to use so many acronyms when the government talks about things. It makes it hard for the majority of people to follow along and understand what they are talking about. It does not take that long to lay things out in laymen's terms. It is very important to make guidelines for the climate control laws so that we can understand the changes and help prevent these changes from occurring at a faster rate than necessary. I totally agree with Maddy and some of the other students: I agree with the others who say that the United States should not be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement deal. We are a global superpower (as well as a major contributor to the toxicity affecting the planet), and should set an example for other countries." Lets get on the band wagon and help out!!
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