Conference of the Parties (COP)
January 30, 2023

Conference of the Parties (COP)

The Conference of the Parties is an annual meeting held by the UNFCCC to discuss the goals to mitigate climate change.

What does COP stand for?

COP stands for the Conference of the Parties, the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The parties meet annually towards the end of the year, with the first meeting held in 1995. 

The lingo

COP: Conference of the Parties is the decision-making entity of the UNFCCC

UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an agreement between the 197 nations of the UN that have agreed to "stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system."

CMA: The Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement is the governing body of the Paris Agreement and is a sub-meeting within the COP. The CMA is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Paris Agreement's provisions and conducting global-level negotiations to achieve the goals set out in the Agreement.

CMP: The Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) is the governing body of the Kyoto Protocol. It also occurs within the COP and includes 192 countries. The agreements under the Kyoto Protocol are legally binding, whereas UNFCCC agreements are voluntary.


COP27 is the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The COP27 event took place in Egypt from the 6th-20th of November 2022. However, the outcomes have yet to be published; therefore, this blog will focus on the outcomes of COP26, which took place in 2021. 


The 28th Conference of the Parties will be held in UAE from the 30th of November to the 12th of December in 2023. 

How many nations are in COP?

As of 2021, a total of 196 parties (nations) are members of the UNFCCC, the primary framework for international cooperation on climate change. These parties are divided into five regional groups:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Eastern Europe
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Western Europe and Other States (including Australia, Canada and the USA)

What is the purpose of COP?

The purpose of the Conference of the Parties (COP) is to review the progress made in implementing the objectives of the UNFCCC. It is also a forum for negotiating additional commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change's impacts. The COP also provides a platform for sharing information and experiences, exchanging views, and discussing ways to strengthen the global response to climate change. Each party also submits their country's plans for reducing emissions and their progress from the previous year. 

What were the four main goals of COP26?

  1. Mitigation - reducing emissions Ÿ
  2. Adaptation and Loss and Damage - helping those impacted by climate change Ÿ
  3. Finance - enabling countries to deliver on their climate goals Ÿ 
  4. Collaboration - working together to deliver more significant action

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What are the objectives of the Conference of the Parties? 

  • Develop, periodically review and update a comprehensive programme of action to mitigate climate change by addressing technological, socio-economic and institutional factors.  
  • Promote and facilitate the full implementation of the conference, taking into account individual Parties' different situations and capabilities.
  • Promote and facilitate international cooperation to address climate change and its effects, taking into account the responsibilities of developed countries to assist developing countries.  
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and promote public awareness, education and training on climate change and its effects.
  • Make recommendations on the implementation of the conference. 
  • Facilitate these implementations of the decisions adopted at its sessions and take appropriate follow-up action.
  • Take action on the recommendations within the scope of the conference. 

What are the key outcomes of the recent Conference of the Parties? 

The key outcomes of COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, are: 

  • A more robust, ambitious global climate agreement, with countries committing to more ambitious targets to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 
  • An acceleration of the global transition to a more resilient, low-carbon and sustainable future. 
  • More robust and transparent rules for global climate action and reporting. 
  • A stronger role for cities and regions in the global climate response. 
  • An increase in public and private finance for climate action. 
  • An enhanced focus on the needs of vulnerable countries and those disproportionately affected by climate change. 
  • A greater emphasis on global cooperation and multilateralism in tackling climate change.

What are the key issues discussed at the Conference of the Parties? 

The key issues discussed at the Conference of the Parties (COP) revolve around climate change and sustainable development. These include adaptation to climate change, mitigation of climate change, the Paris Agreement, technology transfer, capacity building, financing, loss and damage, and how to implement the commitments made in the Agreement. Other topics of discussion include air quality, biodiversity conservation, the sustainable use of resources, the green economy, disaster risk reduction, ocean and coastal management, and sustainable energy.

What initiatives have come from the COP meetings 

The Paris Agreement: This Agreement is a legally binding international climate change treaty adopted in 2015. It commits all countries to reduce their emissions and strive to keep global warming to well below 2°C. 

The Green Climate Fund: Established at the UNFCCC COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico, the GCF provides financial resources to developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Adopted at the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, the SDGs provide a framework for addressing the needs of both people and the planet by taking into account economic, social, and environmental objectives. 

The Kigali Amendment: Adopted at the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, this amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases.

Kyoto Protocol: Adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and entered into force on the 16th of February 2005. The protocol established legally binding targets for industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What financial mechanisms are available to assist in the implementation of the Convention? 

The financial mechanisms available in the Conference of the Parties to assist in the implementation of the Convention include 

  • The GEF is a global partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, and non-governmental organisations that provides grants and concessional financing for projects related to biodiversity conservation, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. 
  • The SCCF provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries to help them implement the Convention, 
  • The Adaptation Fund provides resources to support projects related to adaptation to climate change. 
  • The LDCF is a fund that provides financial support to the least developed countries (LDCs) to enable them to implement the Convention effectively.
  • The GCF is a fund established to assist developing countries in implementing the Convention and to promote a global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient development.

How can the private sector contribute to achieving the objectives of the Convention? 

The private sector can contribute to the objectives of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in various ways. This can include investing in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies, supporting research and development on climate change solutions, and engaging in public-private partnerships to support the implementation of COP objectives. The private sector can also commit to becoming carbon neutral and meeting climate goals by adopting sustainable practices, such as reducing energy consumption and waste and promoting sustainable and responsible production and consumption. Additionally, the private sector can engage in climate change-related advocacy and education and provide financial support to implement climate action and adaptation initiatives.


The Conference of Parties was an invaluable opportunity to come together, share knowledge, and develop concrete plans to tackle the most pressing global environmental issues. It provides a platform for government and society representatives to share their perspectives and collaborate on solutions. Through this event, we have advanced our understanding of the threats posed by climate change and have identified paths forward and goals to tackle them in the future. We are more united now than ever before in the fight against climate change, and the Conference of Parties was an essential step in the right direction. If you're interested in reading more about COP, be sure to check out the COP26 outcomes for more information.