On World Environment Day, let’s find out what the Conference of the Parties (COP) is and its role in saving our environment. As told to Shrutikantha Kandali by Vijeta Ratani, Programme Manager at Centre for Science and Environment
What is the Conference of the Parties (COP)?
In Berlin, 1995, world leaders and members of the civil society—non-governmental organisations, media and youth bodies met to address climate issues on a platform called the COP or the Conference of the Parties. Since then, every year, participant countries meet to assess their progress. At the 2015 COP, the Paris Agreement was adopted to hold the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C of pre-industrialisation levels.
Does every nation have an equal say on the environmental decisions made at CoP?
Unfortunately not! Rich countries have been emitting carbon dioxide for years by burning fossil fuels. And though the poor countries pay the price of global warming, very few decisions are taken in their favour on such global platforms. The outcomes generally benefit the rich counties who often seek their own interests because they have the money and power to influence the decisions.
What should the rich countries do for the environment?
By burning fossil fuels, rich and industrial countries started this whole problem since the Industrial Revolution. They should not only switch to cleaner energy but also provide financial aid to the poor countries so that they also can opt for cleaner sources of energy.
What can developing countries do to keep the environment safe?
Poor and developing countries should not blindly aspire to be like rich countries. Rather they should adopt a sustainable lifestyle like switching to solar energy, stop wasting food and consume only what they require. We should keep our surrounding clean and not litter because even waste releases gases that affect our environment.
COP 26 is scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.