CLIMATE CHANGE | UNFCC COP16 – How did we get here?


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected in part by anthropocentric emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC was formed in 1994 in recognition of the need for nations to address global warming.

The UNFCCC to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29th to December 10th, 2010, is the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Purpose of the COP is to share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices and to launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, such as the Kyoto Protocol. The COP also works to develop financial and technological support for developing countries and to facilitate in cooperation amongst nations in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

According to the Bali Road Map, developed during COP13 in 2007, a framework for climate mitigation beyond 2012, after which the Kyoto protocol expires, was to be agreed on in Copenhagen at COP15 in 2009. What was produced in Copenhagen, however, was far from a strong climate action plan. The Copenhagen Accord is not legally binding nor does it contain any legally binding commitments for nations to reduce CO2 emissions.

Due to the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, international expectations for the COP16 conference have been reduced. Rather than a focus on reaching an agreement, COP16 is expected to function more as a pathway to agreement in the future.

UMN Delegation to the UNFCCC COP16I am part of the University of Minnesota’s delegation to the UNFCCC COP16, one of fifteen dedicated and environmentally conscious students traveling with State Representative Kate Knuth and State Senator Ellen Anderson to Cancun to observe the UN Process and discover what exactly COP16 has in store.

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State Senator Ellen Anderson, Representative Kate Knuth and a delegation of University of Minnesota students are attending the COP 16 conference in Cancun, and students will share the experience with TC Daily Planet readers through blog post from the conference.