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The Road to Paris 2015


The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 or CMP11 will be held in Paris, France in 2015. The international climate conference will be held from 30 November to 11 December 2015. This will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocal. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Leadership of the negotiations is yet to be determined.

According to the organising committee, the objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or “UNFCCC”, was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. It entered into force on 21 March 1994 and has been ratified by 196 States, which constitute the “Parties” to the Convention – its stakeholders.  This Framework Convention is a universal convention of principle, acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and giving industrialised countries the major part of responsibility for combating it. 

The Conference of the Parties (COP), made up of all “States Parties”, is the Convention’s supreme decision-making body. It meets every year in a global session where decisions are made to meet goals for combating climate change. Decisions can only be made unanimously by the States Parties or by consensus. The COP held in Paris will be the 21st, hence the name “COP21”.


The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP21, will be held from November the 30th to December the 11th, 2015, bringing together around 40,000 participants in total - delegates representing each country, observers, and civil society members. It is the largest diplomatic event ever hosted by France and one of the largest climate conferences ever organised.

The stakes are high: the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies. To achieve this, the future agreement must focus equally on mitigation - that is, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to below 2°C - and societies’ adaptation to existing climate changes. These efforts must take into account the needs and capacities of each country. The agreement will enter into force in 2020 and will need to be sustainable to enable long-term change.

In addition, each country must publish its national contribution, presenting its national efforts, as soon as possible and before COP21. This exercise is a new development in international climate negotiations and France has undertaken to help certain countries that are in difficulty to prepare their contribution, so that each one can present a national contribution to the global effort against climate change that corresponds to its situation. Shortly before COP21, the UNFCCC secretariat will publish a summary of these contributions, to give an indication of the cumulative impact of all these efforts.

Another key objective of the COP21 is the mobilisation of $100 billion per year by developed countries, from public and private sources, from 2020. This commitment, made in Copenhagen, should enable developing countries to combat climate change whilst promoting fair and sustainable development. Some of these funds will pass through the Green Climate Fund, which has received initial capital of $10.2 billion, including almost $1 billion from France. More generally, COP21 needs to guide economic and financial stakeholders towards redirecting their investments in order to launch the transition to low-carbon economies.

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New Seminar Series from the Climate Histories Group

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the new seminar series from the Climate Histories Group.

Charlie Kennel: Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Christ's College, and Director Emeritus, Vice-Chancellor, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

A talk on climate change entitled:
"Climate - The Enigma Wrapped Inside a Mystery"
with comments from Hildegard Diemberger and Richard Fraser (MIASU).

28th February 2017 from 4:30pm-6pm
Seminar Room, Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU), Mond Building, Free School Lane, Cambridge.


The Pathways Project: an event for PGCE students only

6th March 2017 from 6:15pm-9pm (Buffet at 8pm), Homerton College

Contact for queries and to register for this free event by Monday 27th February: Libby Peachey

Here we present some methods used to engage children in learning about their localities in the context of important challenges such as inequality and climate change; including discussion of methods for encouraging understanding about place through comparison with other places between children in different parts of the world. We will put these methods into the context of the curriculum to open up a discussion about how this work might contribute to curriculum objectives. Finally we point you towards some useful resources. 

Presentations will be given by project participants: Laurence Ball (Deputy Headteacher, Weatherall’s School, Soham), Richard Irvine (Research Associate, Anthropology), Elsa Lee (Research Associate, Education), and David Whitley (Lecturer in English Literature). We look forward to seeing you there.