The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released last month was the starkest yet, delivering its “final warning” urging policymakers to act now before it’s too late. The big question now is how we can slash greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to sidestep dangerous climate breakdown. Naturally, concerned individuals as well as the international community look toward the next United Nations climate change conference—or COP, as it is commonly known—due to be held in December, to provide the answers. But the prospects aren’t good.
Now in its 28th year, the COP event has become a key part of the international community’s annual calendar. What used to be a niche summit for people working or active in the field of climate change is now a household name, having grown from little more than 2,000 delegates at COP1 in 1995 to just shy of 50,000 at COP27 last year in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, along with a huge range of sectors represented.
At the height of a climate and ecological emergency this should, to some extent at least, be reassuring. After all, the COPs continue to play a key role in tackling the climate crisis. Not only do they bring together all the stakeholders who have an interest in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions and reining in global warming—or heating as it is more accurately described—they also mark the only occasions guaranteed to push the climate crisis to the very top of the world’s news agenda.