The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC, which sets out a legal framework for stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid ‚dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.‘
The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 196 parties. In December 1997, delegates to the third session of the
Conference of the Parties (COP) in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six GHGs by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 192 parties.
LONG-TERM NEGOTIATIONS, 2005-2009:
Convening in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) decided to establish the Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties‘ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in accordance with Protocol Article 3.9, which mandated consideration of Annex I parties‘ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period.
In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan (BAP) and established the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I parties‘ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was in 2009 in Copenhagen.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place in December 2009. The high-profile event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. Late in the evening of 18 December, these talks resulted in a political agreement, the ‚Copenhagen Accord‘ which was then presented to the COP plenary for adoption. After 13 hours of debate, delegates ultimately agreed to ‚take note‘ of the Copenhagen Accord, and to extend the mandates of the negotiating groups until COP 16 and CMP 6 in 2010. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. More than 80 countries also provided information on their national mitigation targets or actions.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010, where parties finalized the Cancun Agreements and extended the mandates of the two AWGs for another year. Under the Convention track, Decision 1/CP.16 recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit the global average temperature rise to 2° C above pre-industrial levels. Parties agreed to consider the adequacy of the global long-term goal during a 2013-2015 review, which would also consider strengthening the long-term global goal, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5° C. Decision 1/CP.16 also addressed other aspects of mitigation, such as: measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+). The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, including the Cancun Adaptation Framework, the Adaptation Committee and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created and designated as an operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism. Under the Protocol track, the CMP urged Annex I parties to raise the level of ambition of their emission reductions, and adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, took place in November and December 2011. The Durban outcomes covered a wide range of topics, notably the agreement to establish a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol beginning 2013, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention and agreement on the operationalization of the GCF. Parties also agreed to launch the ADP with a mandate ‚to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties‘. The ADP is scheduled to complete these negotiations by 2015, with the new instrument entering into force in 2020. In addition, the ADP was mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the 2° C target.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place in November and December 2012. The conference resulted in a package of
decisions, referred to as the ‚Doha Climate Gateway‘. These included amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period (2013-2020) and agreement to terminate the AWG-KP’s work. Parties also agreed to terminate the AWG-LCA and negotiations under the BAP. A number of issues requiring further consideration were forwarded to the Subsidiary Bodies, such as: the 2013-2015 review of the global goal; developed and developing country mitigation; the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms; national adaptation plans; MRV; market and non-market mechanisms; and REDD+.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, took place in November 2013. Negotiations focused on the implementation of agreements reached at previous meetings, including pursuing the work of the ADP. The meeting adopted an ADP decision that, inter alia, invites parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). Parties also adopted a decision establishing the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, and the Warsaw REDD+ Framework, comprised of seven decisions on REDD+ finance, institutional arrangements and methodological issues.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, took place in December 2014. Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP
necessary to advance toward an agreement at COP 21 in Paris in 2015, including elaboration of the information and process for submission of INDCs as early as possible in 2015, and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations, COP 20 adopted the ‚Lima Call for Climate Action‘, which sets in motion the negotiations towards a 2015 agreement, including the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs. The decision also addresses enhancing pre-2020 ambition. Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris by capturing progress made in
elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope,
upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.
ADP 2-8 took place in February 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland. The objective of the session, as mandated by COP 20, was to develop the negotiating text based on the elements for a draft negotiating text annexed to Decision 1/CP.20 (Lima Call for Climate Action). The GNT (FCCC/ADP/2015/1) adopted at ADP 2-8 serves as the basis for the negotiations of the 2015 agreement.
ADP 2-9 convened in June 2015 in Bonn and undertook streamlining and consolidation, clustering and conceptual discussions of the GNT, including on: general/objective; adaptation and loss and damage; mitigation; finance; technology development and transfer; capacity building; transparency; preamble; definitions; time frames; implementation and compliance; and procedural and institutional provisions.
The ADP also discussed workstream 2. The groups streamlined and/or consolidated options and paragraphs within the text, began the process of clustering options and undertook conceptual discussions. Under workstream 2, Technical Expert Meetings on energy efficiency in urban environments and renewable energy supply convened.