UNFCCC / COP Summits

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In recognition of the need to combat climate change at a global level, the United Nations launched the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994. Signatories to the UNFCCC, or ‘Parties’, have met annually since 1995 at the Conference of the Parties (COP) summits to review progress. The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 was a major landmark as it committed Parties of the UNFCCC to legally binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed at the COP21, committing countries to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”. This is the first time that an explicit target to limit global temperature increases has been included in a UNFCCC agreement. The Paris Agreement entered into force in November 2016.

COP23 – 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Bonn, Germany, November 6-17)

logo COP23As an official observer organization to the UNFCCC, YEL is sending a delegation for the third time to attend the COP. This year the summit is hosted by Fiji, and will take place from November 6-17 in Bonn, Germany.

YEL Delegation Objectives

During the summit, delegates have the opportunity to meet with politicians, scientists, policy experts, journalists and other NGOs. As representatives of an official observer organization, delegates have exclusive access the plenary meetings, in addition to public exhibits, side events and high level events.

The main aim of the YEL delegation to the UNFCCC conferences is to raise awareness of the causes and implications of climate change among current and future young leaders in Europe. Delegates’ insights should enable young people as current and future policymakers, academics, businesspeople and private individuals to re-imagine economic models, technologies and consumer behaviours with the aim of minimizing human impact on global climate.

With this goal in mind, YEL delegates’ role includes raising the visibility of young people at the COP and establishing YEL as regular attendee to the summits. Outreach to other youth NGOs (YOUNGOs) and expanding YEL’s network to the Parties and other attending observer organizations is a key part of this. Equally important for the delegation is to generate communications outputs, such as articles, blogs, social media content or seminar materials that can be used to inspire and inform.

Delegate Responsibilities

YEL delegates have several responsibilities before, during and after the conference. Before the conference, delegates will coordinate their work in regular communication, such as bi-weekly skype calls, and distribute tasks and deliverables among themselves. During the conference delegates will conduct interviews with diverse stakeholders and communicate via social media as a YEL Delegate, creating summaries of each day’s key developments.

Delegates will write articles, and a dedicated media delegate will edit materials gathered delegation during the conference into videos, photo albums and social media campaigns. Delegates may consider turning their materials into trainings or a TED-style talk to be shared with students and young professionals. With the YEL team’s support, the delegation will leverage contacts made at the conference and their own networks to disseminate these materials. As an example of such outputs, see media created by the COP22 delegation in Marrakech.

COP22 – 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Marrakech, Morocco)

logo COP22As an official observer organization to the UNFCCC, YEL sent a delegation to attend the COP conference in 2016. To get an insight, watch the videos below, the delegation’s daily video blog or read the COP22 delegation’s insights and analysis here.

Round-up of the COP22 by delegation lead Alex Pfeiffer.

COP21 – 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Paris, France)

logo COP21The COP21 was held in Paris from November 30 to December 12, 2015. Negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on December 12, governing climate change reduction measures from 2020. The adoption of this agreement ended the work of the Durban platform, established during the COP17. The agreement will enter into force (and thus become fully effective) only if 55 countries which produce at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions ratify the Agreement. The COP21 was the first UNFCCC conference which was attended by a YEL delegation.

Young European Leadership attended the COP21 as a member of the Civil Society Observer Organisations. The Conference was a 12-day gathering of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) members, during which YEL delegates had the opportunity to take part in several activities: follow most aspects of the negotiations as observers; participate in side events of other climate stakeholders and organisations (e.g. International Energy Agency); and contribute to the Working Groups of the Youth constituency of the UNFCCC by drafting statements, organising activities, and informal lobbying on behalf of Youth Non-Governmental Organizations.

The delegates also attended the Conference of Youth (COY11). The COY is a 3-day gathering of young people that takes place every year, prior to the Conference of Parties (COP). Its purpose is to allow young leaders to voice their opinions on climate change just before the important climate conferences. During the COYs, young climate activists of any background have the opportunity to share their experiences and projects with other like-minded youth from around the globe, and engage in collaborative activities.