COP15, COP27, CO – what-now... what is COP anyway?

There’s been a lot of talk about COP in the news. It can get a little confusing. So, what does COP mean, what’s the difference between them, and why does it matter for biodiversity and climate? Let’s dive in.

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Two Puffins stood on a rock putting their heads together.
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What is COP?

There are two different global conferences that we call ‘COP’ (because their full titles aren’t too catchy). Put simply, no matter what number follows ‘COP’, it’s a meeting that leaders, negotiators, scientists and NGOs attend to discuss the future of all life on earth… but let’s break that down a bit.

The Climate One – COP27

Also known as: Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (See what we mean? Not too catchy).

What was COP27 about? This meeting was all about climate change and was the 27th summit (COP26 was held in 2021, in Glasgow). The talks focused on tackling the climate crisis and addressing its impacts. The summit included a series of themed days, of which the Biodiversity Day took place on November 16th. 

When was COP27? 6 – 18 November 2022.  

Where was COP27 held? COP27 being held? Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt, Africa.

The Biodiversity One – CBD COP15

Also known as: Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. (You’ll notice we use ‘CBD’ to differentiate between the two COPs).

What was COP15 about? This meeting focused on the biodiversity crisis and how to reverse the loss of nature. The 15th summit should have taken place in 2020 but the pandemic and slow and difficult negotiations hampered progress, instead taking place in 2022.

When was CBD COP15? 7 – 19 December 2022.   

Where was CBD COP15 being held? Montreal, Canada.

A Coypo swimming across a stretch of very calm water

Why do we talk about them together?

Even though these COPs have separate focuses, the climate and nature crises can’t be separated: 

  • Habitats like woodlands, peatlands, kelp forests, and saltmarshes can all lock up huge amounts of carbon. When we don’t care for these places, they leach carbon instead of holding on to it, contributing to the climate crisis. In the UK, around 80% of our precious peatlands are in poor health, and many other habitats are struggling too.
  • Like us, wildlife is feeling the effects of climate change. From puffins to Blue Tits to butterflies, the world is changing. Extreme weather conditions, struggling habitats, and changing behaviours means many vulnerable and iconic animals are going hungry.  
  • As weather events become more extreme, we’ll need nature on our side. At Medmerry on the West Sussex coast, we’ve been creating a carbon-storing haven for threatened species like Avocets and Water Voles. But it’s a built-in climate defence system too, protecting locals from floods and storm surges. 
Pair of Avocet wading in shallow water as the sun sets

When nature wins – so do we

With nature’s help, we can tackle the climate crisis. Going forward, if we protect and restore it, nature will be an important ally. The science is clear: we need to successfully protect wildlife to tackle the climate crisis, and vice versa.

What we needed from COP27 – The Climate One

At COP27, we needed urgent action. We called on our leaders to:

  • Secure agreements to tackle the nature and climate crises together
  • Support ambitious outcomes at the CBD COP15, which follows directly afterwards.
  • Take urgent action on commitments, especially those made for nature at last year’s COP26. 

What happened at COP27?

Countries made welcome progress in agreeing:

  • A new fund, which promises financial support for poorer and vulnerable countries hit by climate impacts that they did little to cause. This is a fantastic step towards climate justice, however, there is more to be done. 
  • The first-ever support for using ‘nature-based solutions’ in the COP27 decision text, known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. This mean using nature's superpowers, like storing carbon, to help fight climate change.
Low, golden sun rays stretching through the woodland, illuminating a mass of Bluebells on the woodland floor.

What we needed from COP15 – The Biodiversity One

At COP15, we needed countries to adopt a new ‘Global Biodiversity Framework’ to plan how they can work together to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity before 2030.

What happened at COP15?

COP15 was a success! After many long negotiations, delegates from around the world came together to adopt a global framework for nature’s recovery, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This is a brilliant news.

Following the UK Government Attack on Nature, the framework will serve as a strong foundation for real action for nature and help us to harness nature in the climate crisis. But now is the time for action – not just promises. So, we’ve put together seven steps we need to see from the UK Government.

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