Climate Justice & Sustainability

COP19 - How and Where to Keep Track of the Warsaw UNFCCC Climate Change Neotiations

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It’s that time of year again, when government officials, environmental campaigners and - in dwindling numbers - the world’s press descend for the UN’s annual climate change negotiations.This year we’re in Warsaw, Poland at the national football stadium(!). Not making the trip to chilly Warsaw? No idea what ‘COP’ stands for? Don’t worry, Youth Policy’s Ellie Hopkins is on hand for an introduction to the UNFCCC and some resources for keeping track of progress of the talks.

What is COP19?

Just before Christmas each year, the UN body (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) gathers for a fortnight to try to reach an agreement on how the world is going to respond to climate change, and how it will prevent it getting worse. That’s the short answer anyway. In reality, it’s a complex quagmire of political wrangling covering everything from cutting emissions, to technology transfer, and from land use to compensation for loss and damage.

This year is the 19th such meeting (or Conference of the Parties - COP), and will largely focus on building up to COP21 in Paris in two years time. Countries have agreed that this is where a new binding international treaty will be signed, to be implemented from 2020 as the successor to the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.

What are the expectations of the conference?

Generally, expectations are low. Not only is this the ‘conference before the conference before the exciting conference’, but the talks have been making painfully slow progress in the past few years. Initially the Kyoto Protocol was supposed to expire in 2012, but the spectacular failure to reach agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 meant that the current deal was extended until consensus could be found.

The lack of urgency and ambition that has emerged since COP15 has left countries unable to agree on… well, anything really. Promised money hasn’t materialised, promises of emissions reductions have been reneged upon and trust has all but vanished. With this year’s talks taking place in Poland, the so called “l’enfant terrible of European climate policy“, it is unlikely any of that will change over the coming days.

Despite all of that, Climate Action Network (CAN), a coalition of more than 850 NGOs around the world have released a document outlining whatcould be achieved at the talks. You can read that here.

How are young people involved?

Youth involvement in the UN climate change negotiations is substantial. The UNFCCC recognises youth as a ‘constituency’ - that is, a group that has a special interest in the talks, and can therefore have limited rights (e.g. addressing the opening and closing plenaries, having spaces to meet at the talks etc.). YOUNGO (youth NGOs) brings together young people from all over the world who travel to the COPs, usually self-funded, to lobby negotiators, track and report on the talks and stage stunts and actions.


YOUNGO is widely held as a case study of how youth engagement with the UN can and should work, but/environment has published several articles on the weaknesses and divisions that some see within the group. You can read some of those here.

You can follow YOUNGO related news on Twitter #YOUNGO and find out more at the UNFCCC’s Youth Portal.

How can I follow the negotiations?

Once you start looking, you’ll see there is a plethora of people, groups and outlets covering the talks from all angles possible. So to simplify things, here’s a list of some of the most useful resources that we use on a daily basis.

Social Media

Twitter is undoubtedly useful at events like this. We’d point you towards accounts like @IYCM, @UN_ClimateTalks and @TckTckTck. Don’t forget to try searching #COP19 too.

Storify can also be a nice way to keep up to date. The UNFCCC has their own Storify feed [here] but we’d opt for TckTckTck’s feed [here] for coverage each day.

Blogs and News Outlets

Adopt A Negotiator [here] is a blog with an (deservedly) outstanding reputation. A selection of young people ‘track’ negotiators from their country or region, and provide critical (and sometimes comical) reflection on what those countries are doing at the talks.

The Verb [here] is also a great outlet for news and reviews, also run by young people.

RTCC [here] always provides a wide variety of coverage, including a daily live blog, plus interviews, videos and in-depth analysis by authors from across civil society.


The Daily Tck [here]is a daily newsletter from TckTckTck that provides a light, accessible insight into what has been happening in the negotiations each day, straight to your inbox.

ECO [here] is a publication by Climate Action Network - a highly regarded daily publication with a more technical (and often satire-laden) look at the talks.

And if all of that has whet your appetite for hardcore UNFCCC action, try watching the live UNFCCC Webcast [here]!

Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia