Say what you will about the United Nations, no one in the world produces acronyms with the same dedication and enthusiasm. At the conference in Montreal, everyone refers to the COP, the MOP, the UNFCCC – if you’re not in the club, there would be no hint that they were even talking about climate change.
So, here’s a very top-level look. The UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the underlying agreement negotiated in at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Parties to that agreement have reconvened regularly in Conferences of the Parties (COPs). The Kyoto accord was conceived in the third of these meetings, or COP 3. Now that Kyoto is in effect, but many parties (most abhorently the United States) are not signatories, the UN has decided to call this (COP 11) the Conference of the Parties serving as a meeting of the Parties, or COP/MOP. (You begin to understand why it takes everyone two weeks to disagree on issues of such obvious importance.)
If you are looking for the latest COP/MOP news, here are two useful resources. The International Institute for Sustainable Development publishes a daily review called the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. The Climate Action Network publishes ECO, as an advocacy piece of what they hope will happen tomorrow.