What is the COP, Anyway?

Earthbound is in Morocco for the COP22 and the COY12! But, what does that really mean? What are the COP and COY?

Important COPs

The COP (conference of parties) is a UN climate change summit. Countries that are in the UN meet together and try to come to an agreement regarding climate change. The number at the end designates which COP it is. So, COP22 is the twenty-second Conference of Parties.

There are three major COPs that are important to understanding. First is COP3, which took place in Kyoto, Japan. This is where what is now known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. It set out a mandatory reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from major polluters – an overall 5 percent reduction for developed countries. However, the Kyoto Protocol was largely ineffective because many countries did not take it seriously. The United States congress, for instance, did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which sent a strong message to the world that this wasn’t important to this nation.

The COP15, in 2009, was in Copenhagen. It set out the goal of under two degrees warming, and the forming of Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, which was intended to give resources to developing nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, preserve forests and other natural resources, and help them adapt to climate change. But again, these measures were not taken seriously and very little action actually took place.

COP21 took place last year in 2015, in Paris. Some students from Green School attended. It set out the goal of keeping temperatures well below two degrees Celsius, review carbon dioxide emissions, and to have developed nations provide funding to help developing nations adapt. While the goals set out by the Paris Agreements are in line with what scientists say needs to be done, the planet is not yet on track to meet those goals.


The COY stands for Conference of Youth. The COY takes place before the COP. It is organised by YOUNGO and is a space where youth can gather, share ideas, and help form the future they want to live in.

Youth at the Table

Earthbound is here in Marrakech because it is important to have youth voices when making policy decisions about climate change. With the Kyoto Protocol, we have seen that there isn’t always the political will to make the tough decisions about climate change. Youth voices need to be there because it is the youth that is largely going to bear the brunt of climate change and therefore has the motivation to do what needs to be done.

COPs in the Future

Though it is important to have meetings, not the international scale, we can see that they often fail because there isn’t the political will to follow through. What really makes a difference is small actions on the local level, people making their communities for sustainable. I have seen this, it is the people on the ground who make the biggest difference for our planet, and that is cause for hope. That means that each of us has the power to do something to make our planet a better place.

Written by: Kayla Fennell

Works Cited:

YOUNGO Lecture





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