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COP21: All You Need To Know

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COP 21 Paris 2015 logo on a pastel blue city landscape background

The COP 21, also known as the UN Paris Climate Conference, led to a landmark international climate change accord. The COP 21 United Nations Climate Change Conference occurred in 2015 in France’s capital, resulting in the Paris Agreement. We explore this and everything else you need to know about COP 21 below.

Information on COP26: The COP26 Conference is happening November 2021. Check out our information guide for everything you need to know!

COP 21: Who, what, where and why

COP 21, which was held from 30th November to 12th December 2015, aimed to address the increasing warmth of the earth's atmosphere due to mankind's greenhouse gas emissions often referred to as global warming or the climate crisis. The event was held at the Le Bourget Exhibition Centre and the attending parties were tasked with finding solutions to the threat of human and animal extinction in certain parts of the world. The risks of climate change include things like melting ice caps, wildfires and rising sea levels.

The agreement involved many different parties or member states and is legally binding. Some of the parties involved included Austria, France, The United States, The United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Japan, Canada, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands.

COP 21 goals: keeping the rise in temperature below 2°C

COP 21 marked a turning point in climate action history, with a definitive move towards a below 2°C target. A greater temperature increase than 2°C in the Earth’s atmosphere is thought to be very dangerous by climate scientists. In fact, the agreement even specifies that an overall goal of only a 1.5°C increase should be aimed for, which would help to protect island states who are the most threatened by rising sea levels.

On 1st November 2015, the UN body that deals with climate change, known as the UNFCCC, published an evaluation that warned that even given the changes that have already been made by states, that the rate of global warming would still be between 2.7°C and 3°C, which was still above the threshold set by scientists.

The Paris agreement then aimed towards addressing this fact by resolving to review country contributions every 5 years from 2020. Member states, they decided, are not allowed to lower their targets but they are of course allowed to raise them. It was agreed upon that emissions should peak as soon as possible and that the countries should aim to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century. The goals that were chosen require a reduction in the use of fossil fuels among other limitations.

What does this mean for the environment?

What did the COP 21 outcomes mean for the environment, and will it help to prevent further global warming? Well by 12th December 2015, 186 countries had published their action plans with their individual steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What does this mean for energy?

As this agreement is legally binding it may affect the UK energy industry and its suppliers in terms of regulation. We recommend keeping the environment in mind as much as you can when choosing the right electricity provider where feasible.

Renewable energy may come into play more and more as both regulation and the discretion of individual consumers becomes more environmentally friendly. The impending climate emergency has already seen many consumers switch to more renewable energy providers, or even install things like solar panels on their houses.

Selectra and the climateHere at Selectra, we really care about the future of our planet and the part that energy consumption plays in our overall carbon footprint. We recommend reading more about energy and the environment in our dedicated environment guides. It’s important that we are all as informed as we can be about our energy use and its effect on our planet.

When is the next UNFCCC climate conference?

Initially postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next COP UNFCCC meeting is set to be held from 1st to 12th November 2021.

The COP 26 conference will take place at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom. This climate conference will be the first time since the Paris Agreement that member states submit new and updated plans for climate action on a national scale.

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