To create a more sustainable economy and greener jobs, one event to keep an eye on is the Conference of the Parties (COP), where the members (countries/ parties) reunite to review the goals of each related to climate change and assess their process. This article aims to understand the importance of the COP for the companies working in sustainability and also describe the next steps taken from COP-27, the conference in Egypt in 2022.
About the United Nations (UN)
The origin of the United Nations coincided with the end of The Second World War (1939-1945). In a time of uncertainty, 50 countries signed the UN charter intending to keep the peace and prevent a new conflict. Over the years, the organization grew and faced many challenges to maintain its influence and avoid contradictions. In those 77 years, the organization worked towards security, humanitarian assistance, human rights, international law and relationships, and sustainability. The UN is known for its Sustainable Development Goals and the fight for human rights.
The organization’s story started before the UN charter signature. In 1941 the Inter-Allied Declaration was signed in London, leading to increased mobilization for peace between the nations. In the same year, we have the Atlantic Charter followed by “The Declaration by United Nations,” which later on would name the organization. The later years had other encounters and agreements leading to the year 1945 and the end of the war.
The topic of sustainability and environmental matters came to light during the 60s. With the world facing many changes and the upbringing of new technologies, there was an increase in the impacts of industry and agriculture associated with the industrial revolution.
The first conference held by the UN for the environment was the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, 5-16 June 1972, in Stockholm, with 113 countries and 250 international organizations.
Other vital milestones from sustainability in UN history were the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the Millennium Summit in 2000. The image below highlights those milestones.
The history of the Conference of the Parties (COP)
According to the UN, the COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC. In the following image, we can see an overview of the COPs. It’s important to mention that the COP is the conference focused on climate change, an issue that has been discussed for years but is reaching an alarming peak recently.
One of the most notorious conferences was held in Japan in Kyoto when the Kyoto Protocol was proposed; after a ratification process, the finalization of the protocol was in 2005, and 192 parties are currently part of the protocol. The document’s goal is the commitment to limit and reduce their GHG emissions, stabilize the target for each country, and consider their particular characteristics as population and if it is a transition or developed economy. During each conference, the parties review these targets and the measures and mitigation policies.
The 21st COP brought us another essential document, the Paris Agreement. This document was signed in 2015 by 196 parties and has been in force since 2016. The main point of this milestone is to limit global warming below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. The intention is to accelerate the achievement of the worldwide peaking of greenhouse emissions. The agreement also has strategies and actions, with five-year cycles to guarantee the achievement of the goal.
To get to COP 27, we need to understand where COP 26 left us. The discussion had an emergency tone and the countries agreed that action needed to be accelerated. A common occurrence at the latest conferences is The necessity of cleaner energy, reassuring the urgency of finding a more efficient fuel than fossil. The developing countries were at the centre of the discussion to find solutions to help them achieve their goals; adaptation and financial help need to be assured —launching the Glasgow dialogue and strengthening the network between those countries. The Paris agreement was reviewed and completed, with the approach of every party needing to contribute to reducing the carbon footprint as a global effort.
Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27)
From 6-18 November in Sharm El Sheik – Egypt, 198 countries reunited to discuss the climate crisis. The main focus is mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration.
Every year, the parties review the Paris agreement and the Kyoto protocol, and over the years, the conference has become more and more interdisciplinary.
It is essential to mention that only 29 out of 194 countries made significant moves through the agreements made at Glasgow, as noted by Future Learn.
Outcomes from COP 27
After deep diving into what brought us here, it’s time to understand the outcomes of this conference and what we can expect from now on.
- Science and urgency: Science is the biggest argument to strengthen the worry. With several studies since 1960, and according to the most recent research, we are reaching a dangerous and irreversible point. The parties must reiterate how important and urgent it is to keep the warming under 2 degrees Celsius.
- Implementation: This COP was about implementing the actions to achieve the goals discussed over these years. The implementation plan mentions a transition – that should be ambitious but equitable and inclusive – aligned to the Convention, the Kyoto protocol, and the Paris agreement.
- Energy: The search for new fuel to substitute fossil is familiar, but it only developed a little. The industry is still dependent on fossil fuels. The energy crisis is acknowledged, and the UN recognizes that we need more secure and reliable energy. The COP understands that the change to sustainable and renewable energy sources is urgent to all Parties.
- Mitigation: The parties recall that one of the main actions to achieve the Paris agreement is investing in mitigation and reducing GHG emissions. Part of this approach is to protect ecosystems and restore nature. It’s clear how this should be accelerated, as at the pace we are at, there would be no hope of achieving that before 2030, according to the UNFCCC.
- Adaptation: With all these years debating this topic, it’s clear how climate change has impacted countries differently. It is essential to acknowledge these changes and adapt in many aspects. This adaptation requires educational, financial, and social actions aligned with protecting and restoring ecosystems.
- Loss and Damage Fund: Helping developing countries is part of the necessities agreed upon during the previous COPs. After decades of postponing, the parties agreed to create a fund in Egypt. It’s important to know that there are countries in a climate-vulnerable situation, and the UNFCCC understands the fight against climate change as a collective effort. The following steps for the fund are to understand exactly how it will work and how it will financially support those countries. Another critical aspect of the conversations at the 27th COP is the worry about food security and emissions by the food sector.
What is the take on work at COP 27?
Some portals, such as the International Labour Organization, believe we are moving forward to a greener economy. That means that the workforce also should adapt to these trends. During the UN, some of the outcomes have profoundly impacted this matter. The workplace and environmental education in the industries are a big part of adaptation and, in consequence, mitigation. If we are entering an era of action as promised at the COP, creating new sustainable jobs and a collective effort for the countries and companies to build a more sustainable work environment will be necessary.
The Parties and the ILO believe in urgent transition, relying on social dialogue and the incorporation of the youth.
One milestone for that goal in specific is the Green Jobs for Youth Pact, launched by the ILO, UNEP, and UNICEF in Sharm El Sheik. The objectives of the pact include creating green jobs and supporting the ones that already exist. The agreement also wants to help green entrepreneurs through job creation and the growth of their businesses.
The action to achieve these goals includes youth engagement and incorporating sustainability into the schools’ curriculum; green jobs demand skills and training.
The UN and other organizations encourage development and search for greener jobs. They believe that by creating this environment and empowering the workforce – primarily young people worried about their future and searching for careers with purpose- we can collectively achieve the goals of the declaration from 92, the Kyoto protocol, and the Paris agreement. They reiterated that to do so, the parties need to assume a posture to make the change faster, which is reaffirmed by how little we achieve from 2021 to 2022.
Did we catch your attention with this article? Would you like to work in such an environment? Here is a list of jobs that you can find on Sustainable Jobs: