From left to right: Douglas Enrique Mendiburu (MPA-DP), Cassia Moraes (MPA-DP), David Prieto (SUMA), Cesar Penafiel (MPA). Credit: E. Mendiburu By Cassia Moraes and Douglas Enrique Mendiburu In the first twelve days of December 2014, Lima, Peru hosted the 20th Conference of the Parties, or COP 20. A yearly summit that convenes world governments, UN agencies, multilateral organizations, civil society and the private sector to assess the progress in dealing with the effects of climate change, COP 20 was the last meeting before this year’s conference in Paris. There, countries will decide on a new global climate agreement. As students interested in international cooperation and gender as relates to climate change, we saw that the official outcome of the Conference did not meet all the expectations. But as we interacted with participants, senior government officials and diplomats, attending events and negotiations, sharing experiences and hearing frustrations, we became more aware of potential for future engagement on this issue. For example, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the poor are the most affected by the effects of climate change. Considering that women represent six out of ten of the world’s poorest, they are disproportionately affected compared to men. “Climate policies are usually not gender-neutral, they are gender-blind,” said Susan McDade, UNDP’s Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at one event. Indeed, a sustainable future involves taking into account the gendered impacts of climate change, and the role of women in the upcoming negotiations. At other events related to forests and South-South cooperation among the Brazilian Delegation to the Conference, we were impressed by the increasing role of civil society and private sector in the process. After all, it is only through a massive transformation of economic and social systems that it is possible to transition to a low-carbon society. Climate change is essentially an economic problem. The excessive emission of greenhouse gases, is an unintended result of production. The higher global emissions peak, the greater the needed cut of emissions rate. In order to stay within target, carbon dioxide equivalent concentrations ought to be stabilized between 450 and 550 parts per million. Considering that an amount of 515 has already been emitted, with current rates of 10 GtC (gigatonnes of carbon) per year, business-as-usual scenarios are expected to exceed this limit within thirty years. Therefore, a 50% probability of limiting the global temperature warming will require cumulative CO2 emissions to stay below 820 GtC. Looking ahead to Paris’ COP 21 this year, the new agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to guide future efforts on international cooperation for climate change, effectively substituting the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the main instrument for international cooperation on climate change. Ideally, COP21 will also focus on other related issues, such as adaptation, gender, technology transfer, and climate finance. It may be the world’s last chance to achieve a legally-binding climate protocol and enable the global community to avoid abrupt climate change. Cassia Moraes and Douglas Enrique Mendiburu are both second-year MPA-DP students. This story first ran in the print edition of The Morningside Post on April 20, 2015.