December 17, 2012

COP 18 and Climate Change Policy

The 18th Conference of the Parties ( COP 18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Doha, Qatar from November 26, 2012 to December 8, 2012.

Many of the recent COPs have been considered a bit of a failure by environmentally concerned entities around the world. COP 18 is no exception, in that we are still lacking significant and much needed international commitments to greenhouse gas emission reductions and other climate change mitigation strategies. A couple positive highlights of COP 18 include the decision to work towards gender equality for future conferences, and the agreement that the parties to the Kyoto Protocol will enter into the second commitment period on January 1, 2013.

It is frustrating to watch our world’s leaders talk about climate change but fail to take meaningful and binding steps towards addressing mitigation and adaptation. As lack of consensus and problematic one-size-fits-all solutions hamper significant movement towards effective and binding international agreements, more focus and attention is on smaller scale solutions including bilateral agreements and sub-national programs.

For better or worse, the COPs are a forum for the international community to come together and talk about climate change. The process is not solving climate change challenges as fast as the scientific community recommends for mitigating a significant anthropogenic increase in average global temperatures, but it is still important. International and intergovernmental conversation and action to mitigate and adapt to climate change is a crucial part of how to move forward, but we should not rely on this strategy alone. Working with top-down strategies alongside bottom-up and grassroots initiatives will surely be the most effective way to maintain the health of our ecosystems and societies for years to come.

Here are a few related resources that are both interesting and informative.

Notes on COPs and International Climate Policy:

Doha disappointment:

Gender equality for future COPs:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

Kyoto Protocol:

Sub-National Action on Climate Change, Yale University: