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. This year the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) is being held in Paris, France from 30 November to 11 December.
Comprising over 190 world Governments, COP21 will convene with the intention of reaching a new global agreement to mitigate climate change and keep global average temperature rise below 2 °C relative to the level before the industrial revolution.
Last updated: 14 October 2015