COP21 launches in France
2015 marks the 21st annual session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
It's commonly known simply as COP (the Conference of the Parties) or as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, and is the most significant annual international climate change conference. This year's event was launched on Monday 30 November in Le Bourget in Paris, France.
The UNFCCC was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, though it entered into force in 1994. It serves as a universal convention of principle, acknowledges the existence of human-induced climate change, and sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Today, the UNFCCC has a membership of 195 parties.
The main objective of the annual COP is to review the convention’s implementation. This year, for the very first time, COP will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change, applicable to all the world's nations, to keep global warming below 2°C. This is because temperature rises of more than 2°C would have serious consequences, including an increase in the number of extreme climate events.
In order for this target to be reached, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 40% to 70% by 2050, say climate experts. In addition, carbon neutrality (zero emissions), they say, needs to be reached by 2100 at the latest.
Approximately 50 000 participants will attend COP21, including 25 000 official delegates from governments, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and civil society. The event will run until 11 December 2015. Follow the proceedings on Twitter and Facebook or by using the #COP21 hashtag.