What is COP25?
What is COP25?
COP25 is the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change, sponsored by the UN. It serves as the formal meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to which all 197 Parties of the Convention send representatives.
The purpose of COP is to assess global progress in dealing with climate change and to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
There have been 24 COPs since the Convention’s formation in 1995.
Achieving consensus across 197 countries is tough, but COPs can be hugely successful. In 2015, at the COP21 in Paris, 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, signed the Paris Agreement. Together, they committed to keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As of May 2019, 194 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement.
Why is COP25 important?
For three main reasons:
- It could be the last COP for the United States. Trump is due to officially pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on 4 November 2020 (four years after the Agreement was ratified). Whether it happens will depend on who wins the next US presidential election.
- It was meant to take place in Brazil. Two months after winning the bid to host the conference, and one month after Jair Bolsonaro won the Brazilian election, the new government withdrew its offer to host.
- Many countries’ NDCs are not strong enough. NDCs – National Determined Contributions – represent countries’ national climate plans to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and they will be reviewed next year at COP26 in Glasgow. COP25 will be vital for kickstarting the 2020 year of climate action and ensuring countries drive their ambition forward.
What are the aims and objectives of COP25?
The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres is calling for countries to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, ban any new coal power plants by 2020, and end fossil fuel subsidies.
He is also calling for developed countries to make a meaningful pledge to the Green Climate Fund, which was set up to help developing countries stop using fossil fuels and increase their resilience against climate change.
Net zero: achieving an overall balance between the emissions a country produces (eg by burning fossil fuels) and emissions a country takes out of the atmosphere (eg by planting trees).
What does success look like?
A successful COP will result in strong commitments from countries to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the very latest. Committing to net zero will require governments to implement robust climate policies that address the emissions of every sector, particularly energy, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and housing. See this graphic for how the UK can reach net zero.
Success cannot only occur at a government level, however. Addressing climate change requires action from everyone, everywhere – and at every level.
Cities, states and regions, businesses, investors and civil society all play a critical role in climate action. Following the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday 23 September, 77 countries and over 100 cities pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, including the three cities where Art Partner has its offices: New York, London and Paris.
When the Trump administration announced its plans to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, governors of California, Washington and New York stepped up to create the US. Climate Alliance. As of May 2019, 24 states and Puerto Rico had joined.
What can companies do?
Commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the very latest.
Companies, like Art Partner, can take the following three step approach to addressing their contribution to climate change:
- Measure your companies emissions
- Reduce where you can (eg switch to renewable energy sources and reduce food waste)
- Offset those emissions you cannot currently reduce (eg by investing in a tree planting project)
This three-step process should evolve as companies address their emissions.
What can I do?
“Use your voice, use your vote, use your choice” – Al Gore
The most important action you can take as an environmentalist is to vote. Alongside this, here are five ways to reduce your footprint. Collectively, these decisions can help to shift trends.
- Ditch dirty driving. Cycle and take public transport; use an electric car for long journeys.
- Switch to renewable energy sources. Switch your energy supplier, or start a community energy scheme.
- Address your consumption. In terms of fashion, buy second hand or rent your wardrobe; understand who makes your clothes and where they come from.
- Reduce your meat and dairy intake. Eat ‘less but better’ quality meat.
- Look after the natural environment. Support the planting of new forests and avoid buying peat compost, plus visit and support nature reserves – it’s good for your wellbeing, as well as the environment.