As we approach the end of the year, two important UN summits, COP27 and COP15, will bring world leaders together to address the pressing environmental challenges facing our planet. While you might already be familiar with COP27 (we covered COP26 here on the blog last year), COP15 may be new to you — and a little confusing since it sounds so similar.
In this blog, we explain the differences between COP27 and COP15, explore the key topics of focus for each conference, and share how we’ll be involved in these pivotal global summits.
What’s the difference between COP27 and COP15?
Let’s start by defining the acronym COP. COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’ — these are conferences organized by the United Nations and attended by states, regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Each one has a unique focus.
27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- The most well-known COP focuses on climate change. This climate conference takes place annually in different countries, and delegates from almost every country come together to coordinate action and create global goals to tackle climate change.
- This year, COP27 will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18.
15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
- The other COP focuses on biodiversity. This conference takes place every two years, and aims to address our planet’s unprecedented decline in biodiversity, while helping to elevate biodiversity protection to the same level as the climate.
- COP15 was divided into two phases. The first phase took place virtually last year in October, and phase two is being held in person this year in Montreal, Canada, from December 7 to 19.
How are COP27 and COP15 linked?
While these two conferences have historically been held separately, their focuses are intrinsically linked.
Climate change is driving unprecedented biodiversity loss. Protecting, restoring and conserving biodiversity is critical if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 °C and avoid the most devastating impact of climate change. Healthy ecosystems like forests, mangroves, and peatlands are valuable natural carbon sinks that could help us achieve a third of the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming. However, at their current rate of destruction, we may never see those emissions reductions.
As the two conferences progress, we expect continued emphasis on biodiversity protection at COP27. Efforts to improve the world’s biodiversity at COP15 will, in turn, impact how we deal with and adapt to climate change moving forward.
Now that we have a better understanding of the focus of each conference, let’s explore the topics that will be in the spotlight for each summit this year.
Spotlight at COP27
Strengthen Emissions Reduction Targets
At COP26, countries reaffirmed the goal set out by the Paris Agreement six years ago to limit global warming to below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels.
- 1.5 °C is the target scientists agree will substantially reduce the most harmful effects of climate change. To limit warming to this level, we must reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
In the next decade, countries must reduce emissions by 45 percent to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. At COP26, many countries committed to reducing emissions drastically by 2030, but some plans still needed to offer a credible pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050.
At COP27, countries will present more robust 2030 national emission reduction plans.
Emphasis on Adaptation
Extreme weather events, from heat waves and floods to forest fires, have become an everyday reality worldwide as climate change progresses. In many cases, these impacts disproportionately affect low and middle-income countries that have contributed far fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
At COP27, the focus will shift from adaptation planning to implementation to address the needs of the most vulnerable countries and communities.
Focus on Financing
From establishing financial support for developing countries most impacted by climate change to financing adaptation efforts and investments to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, how to pay for climate action is linked to most agenda items for COP27.
At COP27, climate finance will be a key topic of discussion.
Spotlight at COP15
A Pathway to Recovery
After phase one of COP15 commenced last year, over 100 countries adopted the Kunming Declaration to put biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030.
As COP15 moves into phase two, the goal is to have nations adopt a new globally agreed-upon framework. The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will outline what countries can do individually and collectively to halt biodiversity loss while reversing existing damage. The vision is that by 2050 “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”
tentree at COP15
We are excited to announce that members of both tentree and veritree will be attending COP15. As part of the 1t.org delegation, we will present in a side session and have the chance to observe the conference and what could be a pivotal turning point for biodiversity conservation. This is a tremendous honour for us, as a company that’s invested in all things restoration, from biodiversity support to ecosystem monitoring.
Check back on the blog following these critical summits in the coming weeks. We’ll be recapping what happened at each conference, the key takeaways and what it means for the future of our planet.
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