Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP is the 'supreme body' of the Convention, its highest decision-making authority. The COP is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention.

There are now 195 parties to the convention taking part in climate change negotiations. All parties to the UNFCCC are represented at the COP at which they review the implementation of the convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions to promote the effective implementation of the convention.

Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the convention. In 2010, governments agreed that emissions needed to be reduced so that global temperature increases could be limited to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The COP is assisted by two subsidiary bodies. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) links scientific, technical and technological assessments, the information provided by competent international bodies, and the policy-oriented needs of the COP. The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) was created to develop recommendations to assist the COP in reviewing and assessing implementation of the Convention and in preparing and implementing its decisions.

The COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) meets annually, coinciding with the COP. States that are Parties to the Protocol are represented in the CMP, as well as other States, NGOs and UN agencies, who are allowed to participate as observers.

The CMP reviews the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and takes decisions to promote its effective implementation.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The protocol's first commitment period started in 2008 and ends on December 31, 2012. A second commitment period will follow as the first one ends.


The Bureau of the COP consists of representatives from each of the five UN regions, as well as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and supports the COP through organisation of the COP’s sessions, provides advice regarding ongoing activities between sessions, and assists the Secretariat in its functions. The Bureau members include a President, seven Vice-Presidents, the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies, and a rapporteur. The office of the Conference president rotates annually between the five UN regional groups. South Africa held the COP17/CMP7 in 2011 and was COP/CMP President until the opening day of COP18/CMP8 in Doha.

The Asia-Pacific Group is the next host of the Conference of the Parties with COP18/CMP 8 taking place from November 26 to December 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar.

Following the procedural rules of the conference, it is customary for the COP and CMP to elect as President a minister from the host country.  The President of COP18/CMP8 is His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Director of the Qatar Administrative Control and Transparency Authority.

H.E. Al-Attiyah brings significant experience to the role. Prior to holding the current office, H.E. Al-Attiyah’s career of service to Qatar has included the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry, and Minister of Water and Electricity.

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