With Madrid behind us and Glasgow on the horizon, it is a good time for Parties and others to consider the future of the annual COP. (By “COP,” I mean the climate conference writ large, rather than the “Conference of the Parties,” the narrower technical name for the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.) Madrid, while a remarkably successful venue in terms of logistics, left many not only disappointed at the Parties’ failure to reach agreement and signal an increase in ambition but also confused:
- Why was there such a disconnect between the scientific imperative (as well as the public outcry) and the official outcome?
- Why were the Parties unable to reach agreement, when the remit was so much smaller than the previous year and the compromises fairly apparent?
- Did the issuance by a subset of Parties of “principles” they intend to follow have broader significance for climate governance?
- Why was it like pulling teeth to get an important climate issue (the ocean/climate nexus) considered by the Parties to what is supposed to be the foundational agreement on climate change?
- Why were emerging issues (e.g., law of the sea implications of sea level rise, carbon removal technologies) discussed only on the sidelines?
- On the whole, why did the side events seem more like the main event?
Environmental Law | Law
After Madrid, W[h]ither the COP?,
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, January 2020
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sabin_climate_change/57