May 25th 2017

Society / Environment

Wondering what COP 22 stands for? Here are the basics

COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC. The ongoing Conference of Parties is the 22nd COP – hence COP 22. In Marrakech, countries are celebrating the entry into force of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, and discussing the next crucial steps towards low carbon and climate r

By Jonathan OdongoThursday, 17 Nov 2016 15:16 EAT

Out of curiosity, I asked a friend, during a casual conversation, about what Kenya should present or expect from COP 22. “What the hell is COP 22?!” he asked in those exact words. Of course I assumed he knew given the term has been flying around a lot recently due to the ongoing climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

But he is not alone. A number of people have asked what COP 22 stands for leave alone what it’s all about. This is not strange though. Using terminologies and acronyms that people understand little about or do not know at all is a common phenomenon among those who use them regularly. If you are a victim, here is a chance to understand what the hell COP, and in essence COP 22, is all about.

First, COP is an acronym that stands for Conference of Parties. Which parties? In 1992, the world met at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), popularly known as the Earth Summit, to discuss matters environment and sustainable development. During the conference, an international environmental convention was drafted, adopted and opened for signature. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was born – with the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human) interference with the climate system.

UNFCCC entered into force in 1994. The first conference of countries or regional groups (parties) that signed the convention or the Paris Agreement was held the following year, 1995, in Berlin, Germany. This became the first Conference of the Parties (COP1). Since then, the parties have been meeting yearly to evaluate the application of the convention, assess progress in dealing with climate change and develop the negotiation process between the parties in the face of new challenges and commitments.

COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC. The ongoing Conference of Parties is the 22nd COP – hence COP 22. In short, COP is 22 years old. In Marrakech, countries are celebrating the entry into force of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, and discussing the next crucial steps towards low carbon and climate resilient societies.

“Marrakech is our moment to take forward climate action at the international and national levels as a central pillar of the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Patricia Espinoza, the new Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said during the COP 22 opening ceremony.

Other acronyms that are used alongside COP 22 are CMP 12 and CMA 1. CMP stands for Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol while CMA stands for Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

Kyoto Protocol (CMP)

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that puts the obligation to reduce current GHG emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. The first meeting, CMP 1, was held the same year (2005). Since then, the CMP has been happening annually during the same period as the COP. The 2016 meeting alongside COP 22 will be the 12th hence CMP 12.

The CMP oversees the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and takes decisions to promote its effective implementation.

Paris Agreement (CMA)

During 21st COP in December 2015 in Paris, France, parties negotiated a climate change agreement that became popularly known as Paris Agreement that deals with mitigation of GHG emissions, adaptation and climate finance.

On October 5th, 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved. The entered into force on 4th November 2016.

As a result, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement is taking place alongside COP 22 and CMP 12 hence CMA 1.

As COP 22 takes place, we each need to urgently play our part in taking action against climate change, influencing the decision making process and keeping our leaders on toes to give climate change attention it deserves.

The writer is the founder and executive director of the Kenya Environmental Education Network





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