Since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international community has created a number of institutions and tools to lead its fight against global warming. This article describes some of the main global negotiation mechanisms.
Earth Summits are U.N.-sponsored meetings of worldwide leaders held every 10 years to develop sustainable developmentThis term was first defined in the Brundtland Report, published in 1987, as “development that meets the needs of the present without... guidelines. The first of these highly symbolic, closed-circle gatherings took place in Stockholm (1972), followed by Nairobi (1982), Rio de Janeiro (1992) – which gave a powerful impetus to climate action – and Johannesburg (2002). The last meeting, referred to as Rio+20, was held in 2012 for the second time in Brazil. In 2022, the meeting will take place in Stockholm, on june 2 and 3.
197: The number of signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (196 countries + the EU).
Conference of the Parties (COP)
During the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations set up a Framework Convention on Climate Change, known by the acronym UNFCCC1. This universal convention brings together 197 parties, including the European Union (alongside its member states).
Every year since 1995, their representatives have attended a Conference of the Parties, held on a rotating basis in one of the five U.N. regions, to review the Convention's application and negotiate new commitments. Certain conferences have had a strong historical impact:
- COP3 (1997): The Kyoto Climate Conference gave way to the Kyoto ProtocolInternational agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change... , which for the first time set greenhouse gas (ghg) Gas with physical properties that cause the Earth's atmosphere to warm up. There are a number of naturally occurring greenhouse gases... (GHG) emissions targets for industrialized countries.
- COP15 (2009): Although the overall outcome was disappointing, the Copenhagen Climate Conference set a common goal of limiting global warmingGlobal warming, also called planetary warming or climate change... to 2°C.
- COP21 (2015): This meeting resulted in the Paris AgreementOil contract under which the oil that is produced is shared between the state and the oil company... , the first accord to be signed by all the countries of the world (see the close-up: "Brief Overview of the Paris Agreement").
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC)Body established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988... was founded by the United Nations in 1988. Made up of hundreds of experts, its goal is to provide detailed assessments of the current state of scientific knowledge relating to climate change. The IPCC is not a research center but rather a forum that compiles climate-related research conducted in laboratories throughout the world. Since its founding, the IPCC has published five general reports, which are divided into several volumes, and four specific reports. They do not prescribe policy – that's each government's role – but rather provide national leaders with the tools they need to make informed decisions. In liaison with the different countries, the IPCC publishes carefully worded executive summaries intended for decision makers.
Green Climate Fund (GCF)
First mentioned at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, the Green Climate Fund is an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Its purpose is to transfer funds from the most advanced countries to the most vulnerable nations in order to implement projects aimed at countering climate change. The GCF was set up in Seoul, South Korea in 2011. Its board is comprised of members from both industrialized and developing countries (see the Op-Ed Article by Audrey Rojkoff on International Negotiations and CO2 Emissions).
A Host of Meetings
Symbolic events and meetings bringing together a variety of stakeholders have risen in number over the years.
The United Nations organizes collective actions on a regular basis. One such undertaking, a series of decentralized initiatives carried out by regions, businesses and ordinary citizens called the Agenda of Solutions, was launched in September 2014. These new climate players organize many stakeholder-specific initiatives to advance the climate change agenda.
Earth Day has been celebrated every year since it was first observed on April 22, 1970. In 2016, Earth Day coincided with the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement. In 2007, the WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund or World Wide Fund for Nature) organized Earth Hour, a worldwide lights-off event held every year on the last Saturday of March.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is held each year in a capital city on a rotating basis in one of the U.N.'s five regional groups of member states (Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Western Europe and Other and Africa).
1995 : Berlin Climate Conference (COP1)
1996 : Geneva Climate Conference (COP2) - Angela Merkel, German Minister of the Environment at the time, opened the talks.
1997 : Kyoto Climate Conference (COP3) - the Kyoto Protocol came out of these talks.
1998 : Buenos Aires Climate Conference (COP4)
1999 : Bonn Climate Conference (COP5)
2000 : The Hague Climate Conference (COP6) - held in November 2000, these talks broke down following sharp disagreements with the United States and were re-started in Bonn in July 2001.
2001 : Marrakesh Climate Conference (COP7)
2002 : New Delhi Climate Conference (COP8)
2003 : Milan Climate Conference (COP9)
2004 : Buenos Aires Climate Conference (COP10)
2005 : Montreal Climate Conference (COP11)
2006 : Nairobi Climate Conference (COP12)
2007 : Bali Climate Conference (COP13) - these talks opened negotiations on a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol.
2008 : Poznań Climate Conference (COP14)
2009 : Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15) - with numerous heads of state present, these talks set the tenable increase in the global temperature at 2°C, but did not provide details on how to remain below this threshold.
2010 : Cancun Climate Conference (COP16) - these talks resulted in the "Green Climate Fund".
2011 : Durban Climate Conference (COP17) - it was here that the process began that was expected to culminate in Paris.
2012 : Doha Climate Conference (COP18)
2013 : Warsaw Climate Conference (COP19)
2014 : Lima Climate Conference (COP20)
2015 : Paris Climate Conference (COP21)
2016 : Marrakesh Climate Conference (COP22)
2017 : Bonn Climate Conference, chaired by Fiji (COP23)
2018 : Katowice Climate Conference (Poland) (COP24)
2019 : Madrid Climate Conference, chaired by Chile (COP25)
2020 : postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic
2021 : Glasgow Climate Conference (United Kingdom) (COP26)
Source: (1) UNFCCC