Breaking down COP21: An international milestone for fighting climate change


‘COP21’ is the buzzword of the moment thanks to the recent news about a huge leap forward for international action against the effects of climate change. If you’ve been out of the loop, read on for the scoop on why this is such a big deal…

What is COP21?

To break it down, COP stands for Conference of Parties, which is the name for the meetings that have been happening annually since 1995. The very first one was in Berlin, with the most recent taking place in Paris.

These meetings were part of an initiative set up by the UNFCCC – the UN Framework on Climate Change, which was adopted in 1992. This was the first time an international nod was made towards climate change and our need to do something about it.

Why was COP21 so special?

This boils down to two basic elements: Firstly, everyone was over the moon that every single country in the world was able to come to a united agreement. That’s 195 countries in harmony.

Secondly, it’s the first time such a huge target has been set to battle the effects of climate change. In their own words, the COP meetings were set up “to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

So what’s happening?

The overall aim is to stop rising global temperatures caused by harmful emissions, AKA greenhouse gases.

COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, has achieved a universal (legally binding) agreement. Every country has signed on, and everyone has targets to hit to limit global warming.


The numbers:

195 nations – the amount of countries united and in agreeance for this climate change deal. That’s 100% attendance, with every country represented.

2C – the agreed limit for the global average temperature.

60% – how much we want to reduce global emissions by (source), by 2050.

2020 – the year the agreement is due to enter in force.

25,000 – the number of official delegates involved in COP21 (from governments, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society).


If you’d like to find out more about the Conference of Parties or the UNFCCC, visit their official websites by clicking here or here, respectively.