More than ten years ago, the United Nations established the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for this exact purpose – to reach a politically and legally binding consensus among its member states in support of an action plan to address pressing global climate issues. Each year, the UNFCCC holds a round of high-profile talks – called the “Conferences of Parties,” or COP – that work towards this goals.
In 2009, COP15 (the 15th Conference of Parties) was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and resulted in the Copenhagen Accord (which was largely seen as a disappointment because it was not a legally binding climate treaty). This year, COP16 will be held in Cancun, Mexico. The UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres has not explicitly said she believes a treaty will result from COP16; instead, she has stressed the importance of flexibility in the negotiations process, which will hopefully lead to a binding treaty in the future.
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