What is the purpose of COP 27 (and all the others)?

Since 1995, it's THE world's biggest environmental event. Quick dive into this complex and decisive summit.

What is the purpose of COP 27 (and all the others)?

Each year, a new "COP" brings together in actual fact all the countries in the world to collectively decide what we are prepared to do to try and save life on our planet. Suffice to say, our whole future is at stake…

What is the purpose of a "COP"?

Let's start with the name, which is an acronym: "COP" means Conference of parties" .

The parties, in this case, are countries. In concrete terms, this is an international summit where states meet to discuss an issue (in this case, climate change) and decide together on shared objectives to achieve.
The COPs, organised under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, were invented in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil. They bring together 196 states, taking place every year (in November or December). The very first, COP 1, took place in Berlin in 1995. During these summits, which each time change cities, countries negotiate a roadmap and make commitments to fight climate change. Note that we are referring to COPs on the climate here, with there being two other versions: the COPs on biodiversity and the COPs on combating desertification both linked to UN conventions also signed in 1992 in Rio.

Who participates in COP?

There a lot of people, its very busy! One edition can bring together up to 40,000 people. The main actors are the national delegations: the teams of negotiators that each country sends. They are the ones who will lead the debates, and upon whom the summits' final results depend.But they are not alone.A whole ecosystem is put in place during COPs, with a whole host of actors, exchanging with each other, defending their interests (or the greater good) and attempting to weigh in on the outcome of discussions.
They include: NGOs; companies; unions; representatives of indigenous people; journalists; scientists; etc. And finally citizens: you and I, can in actual fact attend COPs, where areas dedicated to the general public provide spaces for exhibitions, debates and workshops centred around climate change.These public spaces are managed by host countries, while the "pro" areas are administered by the UN.

What the objectives of a COP?

The great challenge of the climate COPs is to agree on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to human activities and on the measures to be taken to limit global warming. Therefore, we are talking about negotiations based on numbers: how much CO2 we are releasing into the atmosphere and by how many degrees we allow the planet to warm up. .
Negotiators use as a working basis the much talked about IPCC, reports, a sort of climate change 'bible', which compile all current scientific knowledge

What is hoped will be achieved?

OK… COPs rarely deliver major shifts in how to combat climate change. Getting 196 countries to reach agreement is indeed no mean feet. The system of compromise involves making progress with (very) small steps. Nevertheless, several COPs have made history:
- COP 3: in Japan, in 1997, the third COP climate edition resulted in the renowned Kyoto Protocol. A legally binding text is adopted for the first time. It states that the 55 most industrialised countries (and therefore the most polluting) will have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% between 2008 and 2012, relative to 1990 emission levels.

- COP 15: in Denmark, in 2009, the 15th COP in history remains etched in people's memories as a disgrace… After interminable negotiations, when they should have been updating the Kyoto protocol's objectives, states were not prepared to agree and set new targets.As a result: a basic 3-page declaration of intent, and a bitter failure.

- COP 21: in France, in 2015, COP21 ended with the signature of the Paris agreement. It's the first legally binding international treaty on climate change, uniting (virtually) all the countries in the world. Ratified by 192 parties, it aims to keep global warming well below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

What's on the menu of COP 27?

COP 26 was held in 2021 in Scotland and led to the Glasgow Pact, a non-binding text signed by 197 states. It aims to reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 (in relation to 2010 levels). The text clearly points the finger at fossil fuels for the first time and countries agree to reduce them. But overall COP26 was a disappointment. Even more, is then expected of the next one.

What is the purpose of COP 27 (and all the others)?

Where COP 27 take place ? who's organising it?

This year, it's Egypt's turn to welcome the COP, at Charm el-Cheikh, from 7th to 18th November 2022. What's on the cards this time? The negotiating States will not be able to ignore the IPCC's sixth report, which came out this year. An extremely alarming report: according to the IPCC's forecasts, "human activity has caused global warming by approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels" ; and "it is probable that global warming will reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current pace". As we know, at this level of warming, violent climate events will increase even more, with ecosystems suffering and life on Earth becoming harder and with there being greater inequality.

COP 27 will, therefore, have to seriously consider the latest IPCC assessment and its recommendations.In broad terms, we absolutely have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions much faster and more radically.

To avoid disaster, the scientists put forward several urgent measures:
- reduce energy demand (consume less, in all sectors)
- stop using fossil fuels without further delay (petrol, gas and coal);
- increase financial aid to vulnerable countries and international cooperation in general;
- develop Carbon capture, taking over from the planet, which is no longer able to do so on its own,
and thus reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. This involves the creation of carbon sinks, either natural (trees) or artificial (human technologies).

The COP 27 success largely depends on the States' ability to take measures that activate these levers. As for the future of the climate, it depends on the COPs (a little) but also on us, companies, to change certain practices.So too on each citizen, when they exercise their power every time he or she decides to consume (or not) a product.

What is DECATHLON doing about sustainable development issues?

Biodiversity, climate, plastic pollution in the oceans: 3 issues on which DECATHLON is particularly active. Why these issues? How do we do it? Find out more about our methodologies for dealing with these challenges here. 

What is the purpose of COP 27 (and all the others)?

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