History of climate change talks, the UNFCC & COP-15

How we have come to COP-15- in a nutshell


History of Climate Change Talks

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How We Have Come to COP-15 in a Nutshell


The First World Climate Conference (Geneva, Feb. 1979) presented the first evidence of the negative effects of human activity on the climate.


Establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.


In its First Assessment Report (1990), the IPCC confirmed that human-induced climate change was a threat. Following the request for political action, the UN General Assembly formally launched negotiations on a convention on climate change.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC- adopted by consensus in May 1992, was opened for signature at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (June 1992). Called EARTH SUMMIT. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994 and now has 192 parties.


The UNFCCC, came into force in March 1994, sets the objective of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) at levels that would prevent "dangerous" human interference with the climate system. The Convention divides countries into two main groups: those that are listed in its Annex I, and those that are not (non-Annex I). Annex I Parties are the industrialized countries who have historically contributed the most to climate change, and are committed to adopting national policies and measures with the non-legally binding aims.


The highest decision-making authority of the UNFCCC is the Conference of the Parties (COP). A Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) and a Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) have been established to give advice to the COP.



At the first COP (Berlin, Mar./Apr. 1995), Parties launched a new round of talks to decide on stronger and more detailed commitments for industrialized countries.

1996 - COP 2, Geneva, Switzerland

US leads in encouraging gradual policies towards climate crisis, little committment.


  1. Industrially developed countries become legally bound to reduce Green House Gas emissions. Agreement by rich nations to reduce emissions to below 1990 levels during 2008-2012.

  2. Financial mechanisms for industrially developed nation – juggling carbon costs....

  3. CDM Clean development mechanisms for non- Annex 1 countries = developing nations.

1998 - COP 4, Buenos Aires

Countries re-hash issues, stalling, 2 year plans made.

1999 - COP 5, Bonn, Germany

It was primarily a technical meeting, and did not reach major conclusions.

2000 - COP 6, The Hague, Netherlands

Political issues, US starts haggling over carbon credits, sinks, compliance fines and financing, etc. Issues obscured.

COP 6 continues in Bonn, Germany

US under Bush decides to reject Kyoto Protocol. More useless politics. Firms up carbon credits, etc.


2001 - COP 7, Marrakesh, Morocco

Operational rules for international emissions trading among parties, outlines consequences for failure to meet emissions targets, still nothing real. Called Marrakesh Accords.

2002 - COP 8, New Delhi, India

2003 - COP 9, Milan, Italy

2004 - COP 10, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Not much real happening. Delegates more like 'Climate Tourists' enjoying the diplomatic travel, sight seeing, etc.

2005 – COP-MOP Montreal

MOP – Meeting of Parties – the Coalition of Parties and the delegates involved with The Kyoto Protocol. 10,000 delegates. KP entered into force on 16 February 2005 ratified by 163 nations and now has 184 parties. Agreement to extend life of KP beyond 2012 expiration, to work towards greater cuts in emissions.

The issue on "Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (RED)" entered the UNFCCC agenda.

This Montreal Agreement established the AWG-KP (Ad Hoc working group on Kyoto Protocol) to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue,” which continued until COP 13.

2006 - COP 12/MOP 2, Nairobi, Kenya

COP 12/MOP 2 took place between 6 and 17 November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya. At the meeting, the phrase climate tourists was coined to describe some delegates who attended "to see Africa, take snaps of the wildlife, the poor, dying African children and women".

2007- COP 13/MOP 3, Bali, Indonesia

COP 12 and COP/MOP 2 , released the IPCC 4th Assessment Report.

Bali Action Plan: Agreement on a timeline and structured negotiation on the post 2012 framework (a successor to the Kyoto Protocol) was achieved.

Long term cooperative action: (AWG-LCA) was established as a new subsidiary body to conduct the negotiations aimed at implementation of the Convention now, up to and beyond 2012. These negotiations will take place during 2008 (leading to COP 14/MOP 4 in Poznan, Poland) and 2009 (leading to COP 15/MOP 5 in Copenhagen).

2008 - COP 14/MOP 4, Poznań, Poland

Delegates agreed on principles of financing for a fund to help the poorest nations cope with the effects of climate change. EU agrees to bankroll emissions reductions for Annex 2 countries.

Approved a mechanism to incorporate forest protection into efforts

Over 2008 several climate change talks on the future climate change agreements were held, within the Bali road map: Bangkok/ March; Bonn/June; Accra/August.

2008 - Balking about Bali

The EU agreed at the Bali climate summit in December 2007 to bankroll clean technology in developing countries if they agreed to take appropriate actions to curb emissions growth.

The fragile deal was reached after marathon talks.

But EU politicians are now asking for more action for their money. They want developing countries to produce plans to cut emissions across their entire economy before getting cash help from the EU.

Yvo de Boer, secretary of the UN climate programme (UNFCCC) told BBC News: "Quite frankly the language from (EU) ministers re-writes some of the fundamental agreements we made in Bali.”

2009- Bangkok, Thailand – youth feel no confidence in process.

From 28 September to 9 October 2009, the first part of the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-LCA 7)

The first part of the ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 9) are take place

These sessions form part of ongoing negotiations to enhance international climate change cooperation. under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

As at October 2009, UNFCCC had 192 parties.

Other 2009 events:

WORLD CLIMATE CONFERENCE-3: NOT MUCH. Geneva, Switzerland, from 31 August - 4 September 2009, theme “Better climate information for a better future.” 2,000 participants, including seven heads of state and several ministers.Participants made a conference declaration establishing a Global Framework for Climate Services, to strengthen production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction services.

FOURTH MEETING OF THE LEADERS’ REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MAJOR ECONOMIES FORUM ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: (MEF), PRACTICAL ADVICES – birth of another advisory to the COP. 17-18 September 2009 in Washington DC. Launched by the US President Obama in March 2009. Chair’s summary, participants exchanged views on adaptation, mitigation, measuring, reporting, and verification (MRV), and technology, and agreed that the Forum continues to provide a useful contribution to the preparations for COP 15.

GREENLAND DIALOGUE FOLLOW-UP (Annual Climate Summit): KEEP THE FIRE GOING. 19-20 September 2009, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, key ministers, informal gathering in New York. Objective: maintaining momentum in the international climate change negotiations. An informal setting for ministers to openly discuss the most pressing issues leading up to COP 15 in Copenhagen.

2009 - COP 15/MOP 5, Copenhagen, Denmark



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