Each year, the Conference of the Parties (COP) brings together representatives from more than 190 countries to agree ways to tackle the challenges posed by climate change.
Joined by observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations as well as the media, attendees meet under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is an international environmental treaty with the objective of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous man-made interference with the climate system.
The UNFCCC itself sets no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the treaty provides updates (called "protocols") that would set mandatory emission limits. The Kyoto Protocol is probably the most recognised of these, becoming better known than the UNFCCC itself.
Further information on the UNFCCC: The international response to climate change is available and the key steps are detailed below.
Parties to the convention have met annually since 1995 to assess progress in meeting the UNFCCC's objective. At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. This included agreement on a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Last updated: 1 April 2016