COP19 is Officially Underway

The 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) kicked off yesterday in Warsaw, Poland. If the recent IPCC report on climate change is any indication, there is much work to be done. As the report indicated, it is possible to avoid the worst climate impacts, but only if “substantial and sustained” action starts now. COP 19 seeks to catalyze this process.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1992. Each year it hosts the Conference of the Parties (COP) in a different city around the world in order to debate and discuss the most effective ways to combat climate change. From now through the 22nd, delegates from the United States and more than 190 other nations are gathered in Warsaw, Poland for the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19).

One of the key talking points in Warsaw will be the Global Climate Fund (GCF), the mechanism being used to transfer money from the developed to the developing world to assist with the effects of climate change. The GCF will contain both private and public money. Some of the big questions in Warsaw will be about the specifics of this fund. For example, how much are countries going to put in? How will it be allocated and to whom? How will it be managed? In addition, we can expect the meetings to be focused on business involvement and climate finance, the 2015 agreement, ambition of action, and loss and damage.

In the past, the conference has been criticized for its slow pace, non-binding nature and cumbersome process. We must remember, however, that humanity has never faced such a significant and time-sensitive problem. During these meetings, the room is filled with many voices and negotiations are not easy. Still, the fact that our global community is coming together to discuss one of humanity’s biggest threats is, in itself, productive. Hopefully COP19 will be a success.