Climate change, New Zealand

Climate change and global governance: Personal reflections on the journey from COP6 to COP26

This post is an adaptation of Catherine’s response to an address by the Hon James Shaw, New Zealand Minister of Climate Change, at the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies’ 8th Annual Global Affairs Lecture (‘The UN and Climate Negotiations: Implications for our planet and country’) on 6 December 2021. Catherine’s response was given in her individual capacity and does not represent the views of her affiliated organisations.

Photo credit: iStock

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. While tangible progress was made both inside and outside the formal negotiations, the world still faces a critical target gap to limit rises in global temperatures to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels.

I would like to share my personal experience in the international climate change negotiations and offer further reflections on the challenges of climate change and global governance. These are only reflections, not answers.

I have attended five COPs, three as an NGO observer in the Climate Action Network and two as a New Zealand negotiator. My experience has been dominated by the COPs that collapsed.