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UN Framework on Climate Change

Conference of the Parties (COP) Delegation

The main hall at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. 

In 2013, the College applied for and was granted NGO observer status to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP). The UNFCCC is the United Nations body tasked with developing international agreements to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change. The 3rd COP in 1997 established the Kyoto Protocol. After COP21, 190 countries submitted a national climate action plan (called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs) to the UNFCCC in order to determine how the international community can meet this global temperature goal. Explore the INDCs here.

Each year, students can apply to attend the COP as part of the Swarthmore delegation. Space is limited: usually, two groups of two to three students and one professor attend for one week each over the course of the 14-day conference. In preparation for the experience, students must take a half-credit course on the history of international climate negotiations.

Check out the UNFCCC COP Swarthmore blog here, where members of the traveling delegation have posted daily updates about the experience during the conference since 2015. For more information about COP20 (2014), check out the Swarthmore delegation blog here.

fossil fuel of the day at COP25

The Climate Action Network awarding the Fossil Fuel of the Day to Australia at COP25 in Madrid, Spain.


Swat COP Delegation on WHYY

WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR radio station, featured the Swarthmore delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in a short piece on its show, Newsworks. Stephen O'Hanlon '17 commented, "I'm hopeful that young people being at the conference will help to make this agreement as powerful and as effective as it can be."

Read the transcript here