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The COPs:
A history in emojis

Learning about the COPs (or Earth Summits in the early days) is a little like reading The Lord of the Rings. ‘Marrakech, 2016, 22nd conference of the parties, 12th meeting of the Kyoto protocol, 1st meeting of the Paris agreement…’ It’s a complicated international melodrama of who came to the party, who stormed out, who just sat in the corner, who drank too much and ruined it for everyone…

It’s a tale of big hopes and big disappointments - and that context helps us see why Paris was such a breakthrough moment - and what the stakes are going into Glasgow.

The COPs

Australia didn’t take it seriously. Six major NGOs, including Oxfam, Greenpeace and WWF, got 😤 and left the party due to government inaction.

– Warsaw (2013)
The COPs

Industrialised countries promise to raise $100bn a year 💸 by 2020 to help poorer countries become greener. But no actual agreement on replacing Kyoto. 😭😭😭

– Copenhagen (2009) Lesson #4
The COPS rectangle
Rio (1992)

🥳 we admit there’s a problem, and industrialised countries took an awkward glance at the naughty step, but 😢 there’s zero chat on what we do about it.

Kyoto (1997)

🙂 Good party, solid guestlist. Greenhouse gas targets were set 👍 with ‘binding’ 🤣 reductions hitting in 2005. But the US never ratified it… 🤦

Bali (2007)

🤔 Attempts to build a longer-term vision and establish a successor to Kyoto (which runs out in 2012) 💣. All 👀 on Copenhagen. Big hopes and dreams. 🦄

Copenhagen (2009)

Consensus that any increase above 2 degrees = scorchio 🔥. Industrialised countries promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poorer countries become greener 💸💸💸. But no actual agreement on replacing Kyoto. 😭😭😭

The delegate for Venezuela banged her metal name plate on her desk until her hand bled to get attention - 😤 she felt like developing nations were being told what to do by developed economies. Can’t really overestimate how low this low point was.

Cancun (2010)

🥳 💸 The money chat becomes more real with establishment of the Green Climate Fund.

Durban (2011)

Time out and a reset after the tears 😭😭😭 of Copenhagen.

Doha (2012)

Agree to extend Kyoto 🙂. Green Climate Fund still exists but it’s not really getting any 💸 🤨

Warsaw (2013)

Australia didn’t take it seriously. Six major NGOs, including Oxfam, Greenpeace and WWF, got 😤 and left the party due to government inaction. But Warsaw did come up with the concept of Nationally Defined Contributions.

Lima (2014)

Mostly about setting up for Paris.

Paris (2015)

A COP truly worthy of the cult Slack party parrot. 🥳🥳🥳 all round. As the green gavel came down on the agreement, 5,000 delegates whooped, cheered and even cried. A ground-breaking moment 23 years in the making: the greatest coming together of politicians and world leaders in our history.

All agreed (👍x184) that we need to keep the rise below 2 degrees - ideally 1.5. Also 👍 to writing a list of everything we’ll do in the next 5 years to reduce emissions - and getting together again every 5 years to chat about it.

But it was about principles, not details. As one delegate put it: ‘we’ve got a smartphone, but no software yet.’

Marrakech (2016)

Software time. About turning the promises of Paris into action. Mixed bag. Trump was the 🐘 in the room. His decision to hang out with Syria earlier that year (metaphorically speaking obviously, it was the only other nation outside the Paris agreement) helped to make everyone else see how great and important it was. So not all bad. 🙃

Katowice (2018)

More software time. Paris rulebook sort of written - i.e. how countries will report and get measured - but all the hard bits 🤯 were left to sort out at the next COP. Row over the carbon market. Approach: ‘let’s chat about it next time.' 😩🤦‍♂️ The US and China have a coal love-in. General lack of urgency. Greta 😠😤

Madrid (2019)

The musical chairs COP. Greta on a 🚣. Original host Brazil. But then ❌➡️ Chile, then ❌➡️ Spain (finally settled 4 weeks pre COP). Greta on a 🚣. Longest COP yet. Another mixed bag. Carbon market and emission cuts pushed until next time 😔. But the EU does launch The European Green Deal 🙂.

Glasgow (2021)

😭 🦄 💥 or 🥳? 😕. Mega high hopes.

It’s about commitment and follow through - wealthy nations being ambitious, specific and committed - and helping less wealthy countries fund technology and other elements of the transition. Post-Covid, that request for hands in pockets may be hard.

The fear is of Groundhog Day; we’ve been through this 25 times before. But 🎺🎺🎺 this COP will see every major economy, the private and public sector, the scientists, all (pretty much) on the same page for the first time ever. We have to keep 1.5 degrees as the prize. There will be 😢😢😢 everywhere if that ambition is let go for 2 degrees. Watch for 🐄💨 methane chat - and for proper commitments to reduce it.

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