Timeline of Major UN Climate Negotiations
2014— December – The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) is expected to take place in Lima, Peru.
2013— COP 19 was held in Warsaw, Poland. Parties were expected to create a roadmap for the 2015 COP in Paris where a legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is expected to be finalized (in order to come into effect in 2020). Differences of opinion on responsibility of GHG emissions between developing and developed countries led to a flexible ruling on the wording and a plan to discuss further at the COP 20 in Peru. A non-binding agreement was reached among countries to set up a system tackling the "loss and damage" issue, although details of how to set up the mechanism were not discussed. Concerning climate finance, the United Nations' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Program, aimed at preserving the world's forests, was formally adopted. Little progress was made on developed countries committing to the agreed upon plan of providing $100 billion per year by 2020 to developing countries.
2012— COP 18 was held in Doha, Qatar. Parties agreed to extend the expiring Kyoto Protocol, creating a second commitment phase that would begin on January 1, 2013 and end December 31, 2020. This is considered as a bridge to the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, agreed upon in 2011, and set to come into force in 2020. Parties failed to set a pathway to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 for developing countries to finance climate change adaptation, as agreed upon at COP 15 in Copenhagen. The concept of "loss and damage" was introduced as developed countries pledged to help developing countries and small island nations pay for the losses and damages from climate change that they are already experiencing.
2011— November-December – COP 17 was held in Durban, South Africa. Parties agreed to the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which is framework to establish a new international emissions reduction protocol. Under the Durban Platform, the details of the new protocol are to be finalized by 2015 and it will come into force in 2020. The European Union also agreed to extend their Kyoto Protocol targets, which were slated to expire at the end of 2012, into a second commitment period from 2013-2017. Russia, Japan and Canada did not commit to new targets.
2010— January-November – The United States and over 130 nations agreed to the Copenhagen Accord that was announced in December 2009.
November-December – COP 16 was held in Cancun, Mexico. Parties officially adopted major tenets of the Copenhagen Accord including limiting global warming to 2°C, protecting vulnerable forests, and establishing a framework for a Green Climate Fund meant to deliver funds to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation actions.
2009— June – As part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, governments met in Bonn, Germany, to begin discussions on draft negotiations that would form the basis of an agreement at Copenhagen.
December – COP 15 was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. It failed to reach agreement on binding commitments after the Kyoto Protocol commitment period ends in 2012. During the final hours of the summit, leaders from the United States, Brazil, China, Indonesia, India and South Africa agreed to what would be called the Copenhagen Accord which recognized the need to limit the global temperature rise to 2°C based on the science of climate change. While no legally binding commitments were required by the deal, countries were asked to pledge voluntary GHG reduction targets. $100 billion was pledged in climate aid to developing countries.
2008— COP 14/CMP 4 were held in Poznan, Poland. Countries began negotiations on the financing mechanism to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change. Negotiations continued about what would succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
2007— COP 13/CMP 3 were held in Bali. COP parties agreed to a Bali Action Plan to negotiate GHG mitigation actions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Bali Action Plan did not require binding GHG targets for developing countries.
2006— COP 12/CMP 2 were held in Nairobi, Kenya. Financial mechanisms were reviewed, and further decisions were made about the Special Climate Change Fund.
2005— COP 11/CMP 1 were held in Montreal, Canada. This conference was the first to take place after the Kyoto Protocol took force. The annual meeting between the parties (COP) was supplemented by the first annual Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). The countries that had ratified the UNFCCC, but not accepted the Kyoto Protocol, had observer status at the latter conference. The parties addressed issues such as “capacity building, development and transfer of technologies, the adverse effects of climate change on developing and least developed countries, and several financial and budget-related issues, including guidelines to the Global Environment Facility (GEF).” (UNFCCC)
2004— COP 10 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parties began discussing adaptation options. The parties “addressed and adopted numerous decisions and conclusions on issues relating to development and transfer of technologies; land use, land use change and forestry; the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism; [developed countries’] national communications; capacity building; adaptation and response measures; and UNFCCC Article 6 (education, training and public awareness) examining the issues of adaptation and mitigation, the needs of least developed countries (LDCs), and future strategies to address climate change.”
2003— COP 9 was held in Milan, Italy. New emisssions reporting guidelines based on IPCC recommendations were adopted. The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) were further developed.
2001— COP 7 was held in Marrakesh, Morocco. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol were adopted and called the Marrakesh Accords. The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) was established to “finance projects relating to: adaptation; technology transfer and capacity building; energy transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management; and economic diversification.” The Least Developed Countries Fund was also “established to support a work programme to assist Least Developed Country Parties (LDCs) carry out, inter alia [among other things], the preparation and implementation of national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs).”
2000— COP 6 part I was held in The Hague, Netherlands. Negotiations faltered, and parties agreed to meet again.
COP 6 part II was held in Bonn, Germany. Consensus was reached on what was called the Bonn Agreements. All nations except the United States agreed on the mechanisms for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. participated in observatory status only.
1999— COP 5 was held in Bonn, Germany. According to the UNFCCC, Parties continued negotiation efforts with a focus on “the adoption of the guidelines for the preparation of national communications by [developed] countries, capacity building, transfer of technology and flexible mechanisms.”
1998— COP 4 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parties adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, allowing a two year period to develop mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol. The COP also decided to review the financial mechanism of the Convention every four years.
1997— COP 3 was held in Kyoto, Japan. On December 11, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted by consensus with more than 150 signatories. The Protocol included legally binding emissions targets for developed country Parties for the six major GHGs, which are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The Protocol offered additional means of meeting targets by way of three market-based mechanisms: emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and Joint Implementation (JI). Under the Protocol, industrialized countries’ actual emissions have to be monitored and precise records have to be kept of the trades carried out.
The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, but the Clinton administration never sent it to Congress for ratification. In July 1997, the Senate expressed its opposition to the terms of the Berlin Mandate by passing the "Byrd-Hagel" Resolution (95-0 vote).
1996— COP 2 was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Attendees endorsed the results of the IPCC’s second assessment report. The Geneva Ministerial Declaration, which in part called on parties to accelerate negotiations on a legally binding protocol, was noted, but not adopted.
1995— The first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) to the UNFCCC was held in Berlin, Germany. Parties agreed that mechanisms under the UNFCCC were inadequate and agreed to what would be called the Berlin Mandate, which allows parties to make specific commitments. Non-Annex 1 countries are exempted from additional obligations.
1994— The UNFCCC Treaty entered into force after receiving 50 ratifications.
1992— The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted and opened for signatures in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit. 154 signatories to the UNFCCC agreed to stabilize "greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system." The United States was the fourth nation to ratify the UNFCCC, and the first industrialized nation to do so. The treaty is not legally binding because it sets no mandatory limits on GHG emissions. Instead, the treaty provides for future negotiations to set emissions limits. The first principal revision is the Kyoto Protocol (see 1997).
Recent articles related to international climate agreements:
- COP23 Demonstrates the World’s Slow, But Forward, Progress on Climate Action
- How EESI Is Advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
- Fact Sheet - The U.S. Climate Alliance and Related Actions
- Cities, States, Companies Renew Support for Paris Climate Agreement
- Paris Withdrawal: A Disservice to the Global Environment and American Business
- Issue Brief - Trump FY2018 ‘Skinny’ Budget Proposal
- How Foreign Climate Aid Benefits the United States
- U.S. Contributes Additional $500 Million to Green Climate Fund
- Update from the Marrakech Climate Change Summit
- The Role of Agriculture at COP22