in: WIREs Climate Change, first published 13.08.2022
The gap between the internationally agreed climate objectives and tangible emissions reductions looms large. We explore how the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on ClimateChange (UNFCCC), the Conference of the Parties (COP), could develop to promote more effective climate policy. We argue that promoting implementation of climate action could benefit from focusing more on individual sectoral systems, particularly for mitigation. We consider five key governance functions of international institutions to discuss how the COP and the sessions it convenes could advance implementation of the Paris Agreement: guidance and signal, rules and standards, transparency and accountability, means of implementation, and knowledge and learning. In addition, we consider the role of the COP and its sessions as mega-events of global climate policy. We identify opportunities for promoting sectoral climate action across all five governance functions and for both the COP as a formal body and the COP sessions as conducive events. Harnessing these opportunities would require stronger involvement of national ministries in addition to the ministries of foreign affairs and environment that traditionally run the COP process, as well as stronger involvement of non-Party stakeholders within formal COP processes.