Over a decade of climate conference milestones

October 27, 2021 | 23:27
The next global climate summit is always bigger than the last in terms of importance, but key details have been thrashed out in previous conferences over the years. VIR looks at the outcomes, good and bad, of previous summits.
Over a decade of climate conference milestones
Rises in drought, flooding, and other disasters in many countries need to be tackled now, Photo: Shutterstock

2009, COP15 Copenhagen: Great hope ends in great disappointment

“The conclusion of a legally-binding climate agreement, valid for the whole world, which will be implemented as of 2012.”

This was the central objective stated before the Copenhagen meeting, and meant reducing CO2 emissions to less than 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 1990.

But three weeks before the beginning of COP15, China and the United States decided that the Copenhagen agreements would not be binding. The summit was described as failure and disaster by many governments and environmental organisations.

2010, COP16, Cancun: Creation of the Green Climate Fund

Among the main agreements reached in Mexico just over a decade ago was the creation of the Green Climate Fund, which established an amount of $100 billion each year starting in 2020, and $30 billion for the period of 2010-2012 in order to help low-income countries cover the costs of combating climate change.

2011, COP17 Durban: The birth of the Kyoto-II Protocol

Progress was made by setting a date for the start of the second period of the Kyoto agreements with a view to 2013.

The summit concluded with a roadmap for a global treaty as required by the European Union, which would commit large polluters who did not sign the Kyoto Protocol to comply with the treaty. The bad news was that Canada announced its intention not to renew Kyoto, seconded by Japan and Russia.

2012, COP18, Doha: Kyoto extended but no longer possible to revive it

The 194 countries involved reached a minimum agreement which extended the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, but negotiations on the need for more donations by developing countries were deferred to the following year.

Most delegations expressed their discomfort because the final agreement did not meet the scientific recommendations, which called for strong action to counter global warming.

2013, COP19, Warsaw: Mass abandonment of the summit

The initial objective in Poland was to reach an agreement so that the emissions of gaseous pollutants could be reduced by 2015. However, this agreement was opposed by several countries, including the host. The United Nations presented a document insisting that human beings were the main cause of global warming since the 1950s. However, there was a massive abandonment of non-governmental organisations and trade unions, which had never taken place before.

2014, COP20, Lima: Great expectations and preparations for Paris, 2015

In the Peruvian capital, the United States and China announced a joint commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the first time ever, fundamental for global warming not to exceed 2 degrees Celsius. The UN considered the goal to reduce emissions by 40-70 per cent by 2050 and zero by the end of the century. The agreement, finally ratified, was a covenant that approached postures facing Paris 2015.

2015, COP21, Paris: The Paris Agreement is born

An ambitious global convention to combat climate change was negotiated and adopted by 197 countries, with its signature officially launched on Earth Day 2016. The Paris Agreement provides for the limitation of global temperature increase to 2 degrees by reducing GHG emissions caused by fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal, which when burned release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

2016, COP22, Marrakech: Low-key ironing out

The 22nd edition of the COP was held in the Moroccan capital, characterised by its low profile and poor media coverage, which some called simply a “technical meeting”. Here, a working paper was adopted to implement the Paris Agreement as well as a type of roadmap which would lead to the rules guiding the essential agreement.

2017, COP23, Fiji-Bonn: Progress towards the PARIS objectives

The US presented itself to the conference with a low-ranking delegation, following President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement.

More than 20 nations created an alliance through which they committed to eliminating coal from power generation before 2030. However, signatories did not include Germany, Spain, or Poland or the largest coal consumers – China, India, and the US.

2018, COP24, Katowice: Agreeing rules to implement Paris DEAL

A report on the impacts of 1.5 degree global warming, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, became a major source of tension at the talks.

Some 50 countries signed a Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, while the summit also saw many businesses taking up climate pledges. Shell committed to link short-term carbon targets to executive pay from 2020.

2019, COP25, Santiago, Chile

COP25 was tasked with finalising the rules of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on future international carbon markets, as well as reviewing and strengthening the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and concluding various finance-related matters.

However, despite an almost two-day delay in closing the conference, delegates failed to deliver on most of the pending issues.

2021, COP26, Glasgow, UK

The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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