Tackling Climate Change at COP21, Paris 2015

December 6, 2015

COP21 Paris 2015

We’re just over half way through the 12 day COP21 negotiations in Paris and headlines have filtered through my timeline every day about the summit.

As Ireland and the UK bathe in the aftermath of torrential rain following storm after storm, climate change is very much on our minds.  Can world leaders agree to tackle rising temperatures and stop the planet tipping into the danger zone caused by the globe warming? Keep reading to see some of the highlights of this years COP21.

First Up – What is COP?

If you’re not sure what COP21 is about, basically it follows on from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 where politicians agreed to adopt a UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Twenty three years ago at the Earth Summit, a framework for action was set with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” This came into force in 1994 and as a result, membership of the UNFCCC now stands at around 190 parties.

Since the first UNFCCC annual Conference of Parties (COP) began in Berlin in 1995 with the aim of reviewing the Convention’s implementation, other meetings have taken place including COP3 when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was enacted and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.

Why is COP21 so important?

Since COP negotiations began over 20 years ago, decisions have not been legally binding. One of the aims of the 2015 COP21 therefore is to change that and crucially, to agree to somehow keep global warming below 2ºC. If the planet warms above that figure, the results could be catastrophic to our planet.

What’s happened at COP21 so far?

Live coverage and updates surrounding this years summit can be found on the COP21 website whilst Grist have published a post with the 5 key developments. Mashable are live blogging summaries throughout the 12 day summit:

The most powerful climate quotes from the first day of COP21 in Paris

Posted by Mashable News on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

On Saturday, 5th December it was announced that negotiators had adopted a draft climate agreement. However, we have to wait and see whether ministers from around the world will agree to implement the agreement before the end of this week. If they do, will we then begin to see the phasing out of fossil fuels, one of the contributors to global warming?

If you’ve missed what’s happened during the negotiations, you can catch up here:

Several initiatives have been launched at COP21, including transport:

buildings and construction:

 and commitments made to reduce black carbon, methane and HFCs:

Delegates at COP21 have heard some encouraging stories from smaller countries such as Uruguay in relation to emissions:

Though back home in Ireland we’ve been left worrying that our political leaders aren’t taking Climate Change seriously enough.

We’re also being encouraged by UNICEF to let ministers worldwide know how much we want to see changes, by signing this global petition:

It’s reassuring to hear that the youth of the world aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet:

And that soil health is uppermost in the minds of many:

One of my favourite quotes was from UNESCO who believe that changing minds through education is key – something I’ve thought for a long while:

Astronauts who’ve been watching the effects of climate change from afar are encouraging world leaders to make the right decisions at COP21…

… while the rest of the world watches on, waiting until the end of the week to hear whether agreements are made. My own and I’m sure many others thoughts are silently echoing Ban Ki-moon’s:

If you want to keep up-to-date with the negotiations and agreements in Paris, search the hashtag #COP21 for live content and news on twitter, keep an eye out on any of the websites linked, or check back to the Greenside Up blog next weekend when I’ll update this post and let you know the outcome.


The outcomes of COP21 can be found on the United Nations Framework for Climate Change website here.


Photo credit: I’ve got the whole world in my hand via photopin (license)

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