Charted: Growing Climate Conference Attendance

Aaron Foyer
Growing Climate Conference Attendance infographic

United Nations climate conferences, particularly the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have seen increasing popularity and attendance over the years. This surge in interest can be attributed to a few key factors:

  • Rising awareness of climate change: As the effects of climate change have become more apparent and pressing, there has been a global increase in awareness and concern. This heightened awareness has led to greater public interest in and media coverage of climate conferences.
  • Involvement of diverse stakeholders: These conferences have expanded beyond government representatives to include a wider range of stakeholders, such as NGOs, business leaders, and indigenous groups.
  • High-profile agreements and decisions: Significant agreements, like the Paris Agreement at COP21, have heightened the profile of these conferences, drawing more attention and attendance.
  • Youth and grassroots movements: The growing influence of youth and grassroots movements, exemplified by figures like Greta Thunberg, has brought new energy and a sense of urgency to the climate conversation, increasing interest in COP events.
  • Technology and social media influence: The rise of social media and digital platforms has made it easier to disseminate information about these conferences, engage with a broader audience, and mobilize support. It also may draw in attendees looking to gain social stature by attending the highly public events.
  • Policy and economic implications: As climate change impacts economies and policy across the globe, more businesses and policymakers are getting involved in these conferences to understand and influence climate-related decisions.
  • Cultural and educational activities: Many COP events now include cultural, educational, and side events that attract a broader audience, including students, artists, and academics.

The growing attendance and popularity of UN climate conferences reflect the increasing recognition of climate change as a critical and urgent global issue, along with becoming popular cultural moments.