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COP21 - Preview

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The governments of nearly 200 countries, including those of the UAE and the Gulf, are gathering this week in Paris for the UN climate conference (COP21)  with the goal of reaching a new agreement that cuts greenhouse gas emissions and steers our planet away from experiencing the worst impacts of climate change.

 Let’s take stock of the past 20 years to understand the significance of  COP21.

1. 1992 – Rio Earth Summit: World leaders gather and agree to drive action on climate change
Governments first met 23 years ago, where it was decided that action must be taken to stop the impacts of climate change caused by humans. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted and serves as the basis for all subsequent climate negotiations.

2. 1997 – COP 3,  Kyoto: Developed countries are required to reduce emissions
The legally binding Kyoto Protocol was adopted and required developed countries to reduce emissions on average by 5% by 2012, compared with levels in 1990, to prevent climate change.

3. 2009 – COP 15, Copenhagen: Countries work toward a new climate change agreement
Negotiations to set a post-Kyoto agreement did not materialize, but resulted in “The Copenhagen Accord” where countries agreed on the need to keep global temperatures below the 2°C threshold.

4. 2010 – COP 16, Cancun: Developing countries make climate pledges for the first time
Developing countries outlined voluntary efforts they would take in addition to the pledges made by developed countries. This was an important milestone as it showed that international will to tackle climate change was growing.

5. 2011 – COP 17, Durban: Nations commit to develop a new climate change agreement

This new deal would be negotiated by COP21 in 2015 and would come into effect after 2020. 

6. 2012 – COP 18, Doha: The Gulf region hosted its first ever COP and the Kyoto Protocol is extended
Doha allowed for an extension of the soon-to-expire Kyoto protocol until 2020. Gulf countries came together at COP18 to show their plans to address climate change through diversifying their economies.

7. 2015 – COP 21, Paris : If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, all nations, developing and developed, must take bold action for a universal and legally-binding climate agreement
Paris is an opportunity for a new global deal that asks all nations to take ambitious and urgent action. For the first time, all countries must show their contributions to reducing emissions.

Paris will set the stage for further action.  World leaders must agree to and strive toward a long-term and sustainable action plan beyond COP21 to save our planet from experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change in the future. Without such a deal, if all countries continue as usual, global temperatures are set to surpass 2°C causing irreversible impacts of climate change.











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