The arduous process and the high hopes of Paris

Image: Umwelt Bundesamt

The UN Climate Change Conference, the annual State Parties Conference (Conference of the Parties, COP) was created in 1996 during the UN Climate Change Framework Convention. Up to now the results have only been minor, but the hope and expectations for Paris are high. The Conference 2015 which started November 30th was supposed to end December 11th continues…

So far, the aim of the Climate Change Conference was to develop a succession agreement to the Kyoto Protocol which expired in 2012 and which up until now has been the only binding instrument of international law for the policy of climate conservation. A global post-Kyoto settlement in which many no longer believed should now be decided on at the 21st UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris. What had been achieved since 1992 in Rio?

A Chronology

1992: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro
Following years of scientific and political discussions about the protection of the climate, the UN Conference on the Environment and Development, ”UNED”, took place in June 1992. At this historical “Rio Conference” the climate framework convention was adopted, the basis for international legal agreement for international climate conservation. It was signed by 158 countries and came into effect in 1994. In Rio the industrialized countries promised to reduce their CO2 emissions to those of 1990 by the year 2000.

1995: 1st State Party Conference in Berlin (COP 1)

A year later the international community met in Berlin for the first State Party Conference (Party Conference, abbreviation COP). It was not possible to agree on goals and deadlines, but it was merely stated that the previous commitments were not sufficient and it was agreed to negotiate a binding protocol before the third COP in 1997 in Kyoto. Up until then the “Ad-hoc Group to the Berlin Mandate” was to work out a protocol between the annual climate change conferences containing fixed reduction goals and a time frame for achieving them.

1996: Geneva (COP 2)

In Geneva no noteworthy progress was made. The coal and petroleum lobbies were massively against binding goals in CO2 reductions.

1997: Kyoto (COP 3)

Following eight official preparatory conferences from 1 to 10 December 1997 the COP 3 took place in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto protocol obliges the industrialized counties to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases in total (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons containing hydrogen, fluorinated hydrofluorocarbons and Sulphur hexafluoride).

2005: Montreal (COP 11)/CMP1

The aim of the eleventh meeting of the 189 treaty-member countries in Montreal, Canada with approximately 10,000 participants was to advise on the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, that is, to reduce the six listed greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent in comparison to 1990.

2006 Nairobi (COP 12/CMP 2)

At the UN Climate Conference in Nairobi it was proved that it was not sufficient for only Environment Ministers to take part in the negotiations. One of the main stipulations in Nairobi was therefore that from now on Heads of State and Government should push the process on.

2007: Bali (COP 13/CMP 3)

In Bali, above all, the course of action establishing a successor of the Kyoto agreement was to be worked out. The lack of commitment on the part of the US regarding the binding targets threatened to derail the negotiations up until the last minute. That a step in the direction of joint efforts to conserve the climate was achieved despite the initial difficulties was due mainly to European solidarity with the emerging markets. The participation of G-77 countries (developing and emerging countries such as India, China Pakistan) was connected to an extensive transfer of technology from Europe. Europe was to provide the technical know-how and economic growth, and to also make an associated climate conservation possible in the G-77 countries. A “UN Climate Conservation Fund” to deal with the consequences of the climate change was also established.

2008: Posen (COP 14)

The UN Climate Change Conference in Posen, Poland also served in the negotiations regarding a successor to the Kyoto protocol. 187 countries took part in the conference which was simultaneously the 14th meeting of the member states of the UN Climate Framework Convention and the 4th meeting of the signing states of the Kyoto protocol (MOP-4) since it came into force in 2005.

2009: Copenhagen (COP 15)

Again in Copenhagen it was not possible to achieve the objective agreed on in 2007 to establish a successor to the Kyoto protocol. Instead, it was agreed to acknowledge the non-binding “Copenhagen Agreement”.

2010: Cancun (COP 16)

In Cancun, Mexico, the plan was to continue with the failed attempt in Copenhagen to conclude a succession agreement for the Kyoto protocol. The summit ended with the minimum objective, to extend the validity of the Kyoto protocol to 2012.
2011: Durban (COP 17)

In Durban, South Africa the decisions regarding the implementation remained non-binding. Accordingly at the 2012 Qatar summit the Kyoto protocol was extended for a second period of commitment and by 2015 a binding climate conservation agreement should be reached and come into effect in 2020. In connection with these decisions Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol.

2012: Doha (COP 18)

The 2012 Doha UN Climate Change Conference in 2012 can be described as problematic. According to statistics of the World Bank the oil emirate Qatar is at present the country with the highest CO2 emission per capita worldwide. The results of the conference were the renewed extension of the Kyoto Agreement till 2020 on the one hand and on the other hand, that the CO2 reduction objectives should be verified.

2013: Warsaw (COP 19)

In Warsaw the division of the world into industrial and developing countries was discussed, since developing countries demanded to have their own institutions, and it was established that the warming of the earth must not be higher than 2°C. Developing countries could promise 100 billion USD in support for the year 2013. Germany made the highest contribution with USD 30 million.

2014: Lima (COP 20)

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 20) took place from 1 to 12 December in Lima. The negotiations dealt mainly with the preparation of a new international climate conservation agreement to be adopted at the 21st UN Climate Conference in Paris.

cop-paris-perspective-cropped2015: Paris (COP 21)

The negotiations will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris. Great expectations have been placed on the COP 21. The succession agreement for the Kyoto protocol with climate objectives for all 194 member countries of the Climate Framework Convention are to be agreed upon…..and the Conference continous and the expectation is great….




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