What is COP25?

Madrid / 29 November 2019

A total of 196 countries and the European Union are soon to meet in Madrid over the course of two weeks on occasion of COP25, but what is it exactly? What decisions will be reached? How did it come about? Who is meeting and for what reason? In this article we aim to clear up all these doubts...

Communication Specialist
© United Nations (UN)

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is without doubt the main summit worldwide when it comes to action against global warming. It is the supreme decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All the parties —196 nations plus the European Union— will come together in a bid to pursue and roll out real and effective measures once and for all.

It will be held in Madrid from 2 to 13 December. Week one will take the form of technical workshops, while the final days of the summit will be a more political affair known as the “ministerial dialogues”.


Some 20,000 people are expected to attend the summit, including 15 to 20 heads of state, though not Donald Trump, who has already announced that he will not be attending the event in person.


A bit of history

Around 200 years ago the first scientists began to analyze the phenomenon of climate change, yet it was not until 1979 that the first World Climate Conference was held in Geneva.

After various rounds of discussion, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was established in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in a bid to raise global awareness of the phenomenon and curb greenhouse gas emissions. It was there the COP came about; a yearly summit that brings together environmental experts, the scientific community and politicians.

A total of 24 COPs have been held so far, the last one taking place in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. Perhaps the most celebrated COP was COP21 in 2015, at which the historic Paris Agreement was reached, whereby the signatories undertook to pursue ambitious measures to combat climate change before 2020 and to prevent the planet's temperature from rising by 1.5 ºC over the following years. Although the Paris Agreement was officially ratified in 2016, it will take effect from 2020 onward (when the current Kyoto Protocol expires).

What can we expect from COP25?

The main objective of this twenty-fifth edition is to coalesce the commitments undertaken in Paris, through real and specific plans to prevent further global warming. COP25 is expected to herald a change of cycle. Time is running out, and while significant progress has already been made at the summits held in recent years, this coming event is the last opportunity to plot out a road map with regulations and mechanisms to finally put the Paris Agreement into practice.

The official hashtag of the summit speaks for itself: #TimeForAction. The whole planet is on tenterhooks, and especially the young generations, who have already let it be known that words alone will not cut it.



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