The annual climate change meetings are part of a UN-backed process initiated in the early 1990s after the world realised that greenhouse gas emissions were powering a rise in temperature that would slowly make the Earth uncomfortable to live in.
The following points indicate their significance:
i). Over the years, these meetings have had remarkable success in bringing climate change to the top of the global agenda, and ensuring that every country has an action plan to tackle climate change.
ii). This process has also delivered two international agreements — Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and Paris Agreement in 2015 — aimed at cutting down global emissions.
Criticism of COP meetings
The outcomes of these meetings, however, have not matched the scale of the response required. The original objectives, in terms of the amount of emission reductions and the principles that would govern the international climate architecture, have been diluted severely.
Most industrialised countries have failed to deliver on their initial promises, not just on emission reductions but also on their commitments to help with finance and technology. As a result, the climate crisis has worsened in the last 20 years, manifesting itself in more frequent and intense extreme weather events.
Despite their shortcomings, these meetings remain the best bet to put the world on a path away from climate disasters.