Climate change and its impending effects on our world can no longer be ignored or denied. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising and species are going extinct. As the impacts of climate change worsen, there is a growing global necessity to come together and combat climate change. COP exists to serve this purpose, as an international response to climate change. There is tremendous pressure surrounding COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to find the solutions to climate change. As A\J prepares to head to COP21 in a few weeks, we’ve organized a guide to help you get up to speed with the issues.

What is COP21?

COP or the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is holding it’s 21st session this year. It is an annual meeting bringing together the parties that make up the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention was the outcome of the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Each year, participating nations attend these negotiation sessions to discuss and agree upon on ways to combat climate change and reduce emissions.

Why is it important?

COP21 is not the first climate conference of its kind (it’s the 21st), but it will be the first time that the UNFCCC has aimed to create a universal and legally binding agreement to combat climate change and transition to low-carbon societies and economies. This agreement will bring together leaders from all over the world to achieve the goal of limiting the global change in temperature to below 2°C. The 2°C goal was created and agreed upon in COP16 in Cancun as it was established that by limiting global warming to 2°C from pre-industrial levels, our world has a chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change by 50 percent. The outcome of COP21 will be implemented from 2020, the year in which most previous emission reduction commitments end.

How will COP21 work towards combatting climate change?

In addition to its goal of creating a universal and legally binding agreement, COP21 is requiring its participating nations to publish their national contribution plan prior to the conference allowing the UNFCCC secretariat time to publish a summary of each nation’s contributions and show the cumulative impact. COP21 will also address the challenges that developing countries face in transitioning into low-carbon economies by aiming to mobilize $100 billion per year from developed countries to promote fair and sustainable development.

Who is attending?

Over 190 countries are participating in this year’s conference with a combined total of 25,000 official delegates from governments, intergovernmental, organizations, UN agencies and NGOs expected to attend. It is also expected to attract another 25,000 participants from the civil society. In comparison 15,000 official delegates attended the 2014 Lima Climate Conference.

Where and when will it be held?

COP21 will be held in Paris, France at the Paris-Le Bourget Site. This site has an area of 18 hectares and will be divided into three areas:

  • The climate Generations area, which is open for the public
  • The Gallery, providing an exhibition space for businesses
  • The Conference Centre, which is only open for accredited participants and will be where negotiations will take place.

COP21 has also provided a virtual tour of the Paris-Le Bourget Site here.

How can Canadians learn more about COP?

Located on the COP21 website is a toolbox of various visually appealing documents to learn more about the conference. View their infographic, read their webzine and test your knowledge on COP21 by taking their quiz. If you’re low on time, GreenTV released a two-minute guide on COP21 that can be found on their Youtube channel.

According to France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius, “The world will come face to face with its future in Paris in December 2015,” and A\J will be there to cover it. Follow us on Twitter and check in at to stay up to date with our COP21 coverage.


If you liked this article, please subscribe or donate today to support our work.

A\J moderates comments to maintain a respectful and thoughtful discussion.
Comments may be considered for publication in the magazine.