The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the annual summit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 196 countries as well as the European Union are parties to this convention.
COPs are sessions in which countries that have ratified the United Nations Conventions meet. These sessions started in 1994, and the 25th meeting was hosted by Spain, in Madrid, between December 2 and 13, 2019 under the Presidency of Chile.
In the COP, decisions are taken by consensus among the 197 Parties of the UNFCCC, within the framework of an agenda that must be agreed and approved by them.
There are two COPs that have established global agreements with specific emission reduction objectives:
- COP3, 1997: the Kyoto Protocol established the objective of reducing country emissions by 5% (Annex 1)
- COP21, 2015: the Paris Agreement established the goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2°C by 2100, through common but differentiated responsibilities of the Parties.
- The Paris Agreement enters into force in 2020.
Outcomes of the other 23 COP sessions have included:
- Identifying and working through existing issues and incorporating new topics.
- Adopting decisions on implementation, as well as reviewing and monitoring the two major agreements made at COP3 and COP21.
Since the beginning of the COP, the objective of the UNFCCC, which is to stabilize the rise of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, has not yet been achieved.
The COP25 Presidency is led by the Chilean Minister of Environment, Carolina Schmidt, and will operate between December 2019 and November 2020.
The Presidency alternates between the five continents according to the United Nations criteria of equitable geographical representation. In 2019 it was the turn of Latin America and the Caribbean to preside, and Chile took on this challenge in December 2018.
Why COP25 in Chile?
- Although Chile is a low-emission country, it is highly vulnerable to climate change. The country shows 7 of the 9 key vulnerability criteria set out by the United Nations.
- Chile wanted to give a signal to the world that countries of all sizes can – and must – change course to tackle climate change.
- Chile assumed the Presidency of COP25 on behalf of Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that faces particular social, economic and environmental challenges that differ from those of developed countries in the context of climate change.
- Chile continues to face diverse environmental challenges at different scales.
- Chile is determined to initiate a change, recognizing these national and regional challenges, and is setting ambitious and unprecedented targets to tackle climate change.