Climate Change Conference

12 pills to digest our binge on CO2 whilst we wait to sit at table of COP 21

What’s COP 21? It’s time to find out, but in a language we all like. That of GIFs.


COP is not a new TV show about the police force but stands for “conference of the parties”. 196 countries (almost all of them) signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. It’s the 21st time they come together to take part in a conference, hence the name COP21.





Before tackling COP21, let’s go back to the past. The first UNFCCC agreement dates back to 1997 and was signed in Kyoto, Japan. It bound industrialised countries to cutting their CO2 emissions. But results haven’t been electrifying.




COP21 is an important event because, like the 21st birthday, it marks a coming of age. The aim is to reach an agreement amongst all parties in order for the increase in global temperature to be remain below 2 degrees Celsius (at least).





The Earth is heating up and the goal is to, as said, keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees. This target was set at the conference of the parties COP15 held in Copenhagen in 2009.





But what is the monster we need to defeat? We emit 45 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. China generates more emissions than any other country whilst the United States have been the most prolific CO2 producers in the history of humanity.





The countries that will take part in COP21 need to examine their consciences and establish their own goals to reduce emissions at home.





The European Union was the first to hand in its homework. 28 nations pledged to reduce their emissions by 40% below 1990 levels. They have 15 years to do it.





Even the classroom bullies, the United States, have fallen into line. After President George W. Bush failed to comply with the agreement signed by his predecessor Bill Clinton in Kyoto, Obama has now committed to cut emissions between 26 and 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.





China is the newcomer. In a few years it has become the biggest emitter of CO2. The government hopes to peak emissions in 2025, plant 4.5 billion square metres of forests and for renewables to generate 20% more electricity.





The 196 countries that will take part in COP21 will have to make space for its supreme protagonist: trees, the first line of defense against emissions. It is thought that there are 427 trees for every human being on Earth. Not the Planet of the Apes after all.





But despite a dose of goodwill, the UN said that the pledges made by 150 governments aren’t enough. As things stand global average temperature will rise by 2.7 degrees; 0.7 degrees more than we can afford.





We’re counting down the days to COP21 Paris. It’s important to reach an agreement and that all countries commit to reducing their emissions because we have too much to lose.




Cover image: from the film Marie-Antoinette ©

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