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November, 2020

The Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was drafted in 1992 in an effort to combat global warming. Since 1995 representatives of the world’s governments and other interested groups have been meeting annually in November to assess progress in dealing with climate change. This group, known as the Conference of Parties is responsible for adopting resolutions that establish the international rules needed to meet the challenges posed by our changing climate.

COP 21, held in 2015 produced the Paris Accord in which leaders from 200 countries collectively agreed that climate change is driven by human behavior, that it’s a threat to the environment and all of humanity, and that global action is needed to stop it. It also created a clear framework for all countries to make emissions reduction commitments and strengthen those actions over time.

Annual COP gatherings in the years since Paris have focused on implementing the framework. While this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP 26) has been postponed until November 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we continue to witness on a daily basis the devastating effects of climate change. Climate change remains a very ‘HOT TOPIC’.

Why Care About International Cooperation on Climate Change?

Climate change is altering our planet.  Significant environmental, economic and social consequences are becoming more and more severe as global temperatures increase. 

  • Climate change is causing a significant increase in the frequency, intensity, and impacts of some types of extreme weather events. (C2ES)
  • Current rates of sea level rise threaten coastal cities where most of the world’s population resides
  • Rising temperatures due to global warming threaten to increase flooding and droughts, putting millions of homes at risk and endangering as many as 30 percent of animal species, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be lost within 50 years as a result of retreating sea ice, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • The IPCC estimates 3 billion or more people will be at risk of water shortage due to climate change in the decades ahead.
  • Research conducted by the NRDC shows that if present trends continue, the total cost of global warming over the next century will be measured in the trillions of dollars.
  • Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity cause air pollution and are a key contributing factor to thousands of hospital stays and premature deaths in Canada each year.
  • Climate change presents the single biggest threat to sustainable development everywhere and its widespread, unprecedented impacts disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable. (UNFCCC)

Climate change will increasingly affect human health, species distribution and the ability of the earth’s ecosystems to sustain our economic, social and environmental needs.  How we deal with climate change is a crucial discussion that teachers and students should be actively engaged in.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to explore climate change issues.  Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For a more extensive catalogue of climate change resources and ideas, click here and for more information on the conference itself, visit the COP26 website.