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This blog was written by Wani Nur Imannina, the Youth Environment Community Facilitator at UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

Confused about COP? Don’t worry! We’ve prepared a general guide on the most important things you need to know.

What is COP?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an agreement between 197 countries that approved jointly discussing and addressing the climate crisis. Conference of the Parties (COP), is the decision-making body of the (UNFCCC) and enables states to review the implementation of the Convention and take decisions necessary to promote effective solutions. 

This year, 2022, the countries are convening again for COP27, the 27th time they have convened since COP entered to force in 1994 and was first held in March 1995.

The main issue of concern right now is the 1.5 degrees threshold. You may have heard of it. 

Climate experts have suggested that the earth needs to limit the warming of temperature to 1.5 degrees by 2100. But why?

Imagine this, when you get a fever your body gets hot, you feel ill and it takes a lot of your energy to function. One degree increase can cause a fever and decreases your immune system, giving way to other symptoms such as flu, cough and etc. This is similar to the increase in temperature to 1.5 degrees for the Earth.

Experts have warned that we need to minimise global warming, or there will be more severe climate change effects on ourselves, people, wildlife and our ecosystems. The 1.5 degrees was first introduced in the Paris Agreement at COP21, in 2015.  As a Malaysian, you might’ve heard about or even gone through extreme weather changes and disasters like floods. With climate change, these are on the rise.

Where can you find more information about climate and environmental issues? 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces Assessment Reports, which include the review and recommendations from climate scientists and experts in the field. The report contains information about the science, the socio-economic impacts of climate change and potential response strategies to address the issues. 

When is COP27? 

This year, COP27 is in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The conference is currently happening from the 6th to the 18th of November.

Why is COP important? 

What is the goal of COP?

Different countries, organisations and communities may have alternative goals. However, the general goal is to ensure that countries and global leaders continue to commit to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by reviewing the national communications and emission inventories submitted by the countries. 

Topics of discussion also include conversations on adaptation that can revolve around addressing loss and damage due to disasters. Whereas discussions on mitigation would include providing equitable and just transition. 

In recent conversations, there are more discussions leaning towards loss and damage. Developing countries that contribute the least towards climate change are seeking financial compensation from developed countries. 

Increasing resilience and reducing vulnerabilities towards impacts of climate change.
Ensuring that we limit the damage and harm done to the world by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Why do we need COP? 

COP is very important as it establishes the framework such as the Paris Agreement and the monitoring, accountability and reporting processes which ensure countries set their own national commitments, to reach the overall, global goal of keeping Earth’s temperature rise limit to 1.5 degrees. Through a platform like COP, individuals and communities can also network, and share their knowledge and experiences with one another. 

Though there are no legal or financial penalties if countries do not meet their emissions, pressure groups such as academics, civil or non-governmental organisations and youth movements are important in upholding their respective countries’ responsible for meeting their emissions reduction target to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. 

How are Youths Participating at COP? 

COP is not only the space for ministers, civil societies, UN agencies the private sector, heads of state and etc; it is also for young people including the most marginalised, to make their demands and be included in the decision-making space. 

Through official channels like YOUNGO, the Youth Constituency to the UNFCCC, youths are given the opportunity to provide two-minute statements during opening or closing plenaries and can provide their intervention in this space. Youths can also prepare their list of questions to be submitted to briefings, where the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and the President of COP will be present, though this only occurs occasionally. 

Another way youths participate at COP is through direct action. Direct action are strikes, sit-ins or other types of activities where youths can amplify their messaging towards those at the negotiating table. 

Youth Day at COP

Youth Day provides a platform for youths to highlight the works of other youths around the world. Throughout the day, there are also opportunities for public awareness, training and education in climate action. This year’s youth day will be held on the 10th of November! 

Here are some extra resources in relation to how youth are taking part in climate action! 

I’m interested in… 

What happens after COP and what can I do from Malaysia? 

The work for climate action does not end after COP! We should continuously work towards implementing changes for the benefit of our planet and people. Countries may utilise the results and agreements drawn from COP to shape national policies.

If you would like to partake in climate action, here are some actions you can consider: 

  • Checking out our local directory to find out how you can join environmental organisations and help address climate and environmental issues locally
  • As the elections are approaching, go out to vote on November 19th if you are 18 years old and older! For all youths aged 18, you are now automatically registered to vote. Look at manifestos, and write to nominated candidates to check which local leaders are concerned with climate change and what their plans are for tackling it. Check out this write-up by Macaranga and this #UndiIklim Resource by Greenpeace Malaysia!
  • It is important to get to know your local issues and this can pave the way for how you want to address environmental or climate issues! Here are some steps that you can take:
Ask to be involved in local solutions
Organise actions you can take with your friends or others in the community
Follow-up with your local leaders (this can include the head of your Kampung, your DUN or local councils!)

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