Stages of climate change negotiations

26th Climate Change Conference 2020/21 in Glasgow

COP 26 / CMP 16 / CMA 3, 31 October to 13 November 2021

In recent years, climate change mitigation efforts around the world have been stepped up. The world is not yet on the target trajectory. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference needed to send a signal that it can keep the 1.5-degree limit on warming and the other climate targets embedded in the Paris Agreement within reach.

For the first time in the history of the UN climate change conferences (COPs), the final declaration contains an agreement accepted by all countries on accelerating the global energy transition away from coal and on eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels.

25th UN Climate Change Conference 2019 in Madrid

Konferenzgebäude in Madrid mit dem Logo

COP 25 / CMP15 / CMA4, 2 to 15 December 2019

The UN Climate Change Conference was concluded two days later than planned on 15 December 2019. Following tough negotiations, German Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze explained that the outcomes were not in line with progress urgently need on climate action. The climate talks concluded with an agreement that all contracting parties must enhance their NDCs for the coming decade and submit a 2050 long-term strategy by COP 26 in Glasgow. Europe will lead by example and has announced a plan for 2020 to significantly increase the EU climate target.

24th UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice

Blick auf das Messezentrum von Katowice

View of the exhibition centre of Katowice

COP 24 / CMP 14 / CMA3, 6 to 17 November 2018

At the Climate Change Conference in Katowice, major progress was made in two areas: firstly, the international community adopted a rulebook that will enable implementation of the Paris Agreement. Secondly, the conference sent a political signal that countries are committed to updating and, based on IPCC findings, to further enhancing their current NDCs in future. In addition, at the 24th Climate Change Conference the international community agreed on a 100-page rulebook which contains numerous detailed regulations. Put together, these regulations are to ensure that the climate targets of the Paris Agreement are met by all countries and implemented without any loopholes. With the rulebook, binding transparency standards have been set for all countries for the first time.

23rd UN Climate Change Conference 2017 in Bonn

Collage aus dem Bild der Stadt Bonnn und dem Logo der COP23

View of the city of Bonn

COP 23 / CMP 13 / CMA 1-2, 6 to 17 November 2017

The 2017 Climate Change Conference (COP 23) took place in Germany under the Fijian Presidency. At COP 23 in Bonn, significant progress was made in negotiations and on joint action. The conference thus fully met expectations. Bonn sent a strong signal that the world is standing together and is committed to climate action. One of the major outcomes of the conference is the Talanoa Dialogue. Talanoa is a Fijian term used to describe an an inclusive, participatory dialogue. Led by Fiji and Poland, over the next year the Talanoa Dialogue will gather information from science, industry and civil society. A stock-take will then be carried out with the aim of motivating the Parties to take more ambitious action to close the gap in global climate mitigation. Important progress was also made on the rulebook, i.e. the implementing provisions of the Paris Agreement. The rulebook addresses questions such as how countries are to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions. In Bonn texts were drawn up on all questions, on which negotiations can be finalised at the next Climate Change Conference in Katowice in 2018.

22nd UN Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakesh

Collage mit der Stadtansicht von Marrakesch und dem Logo der COP22: "#COP22. Weltklimakonferenz in Marrakesch. 7. bis 18. November 2016


COP 22/CMP 12, 7 to 18 November 2016

At COP 22, talks and events centred on the dialogue on concrete measures and projects to make the Paris Agreement a reality. Germany was the first country to present an ambitious long-term strategy with its Climate Action Plan 2050. In addition, the US, Mexico and Canada presented their climate action plans to decarbonise their economies. The NDC Partnership founded by Germany and Morocco was positively received. The Partnership will support countries of the South in implementing their NDCs. Industrialised countries once again confirmed their goal of jointly providing 100 billion US dollars annually for climate finance from 2020. Further steps to achieve this goal were agreed. Germany supported the Adaptation Fund with 50 million euros and made an additional 25 million euros available for further adaptation measures.

21st UN Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris

Collage mit der Stadtansicht von Paris und dem Logo der COP21: "Die Weltklimakonferenz in Paris. 30. November bis 11. Dezember 2015

Paris and the Eiffel Tower

COP 21/CMP 11, 30 November to 11 December 2015

History was made in Paris on 12 December 2015 when the Paris Agreement was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 21. Following many years of intense negotiations, all countries made a commitment to creating a more climate-friendly global economy. This is a historic milestone, as up to then only a few industrialised countries were obligated to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

20th Climate Change Conference 2014 in Lima

COP 20/CMP 10, 1 to 12 December 2014

The decision adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima (COP 20) laid the foundations for negotiations on the new global climate agreement to be agreed in Paris in 2015. The outcome document contains the first basic principles to be enshrined in the new climate agreement, which is the first to apply to all countries. Each country will be required to submit an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC). Right up to the end of the conference, the questions of how to differentiate the climate commitments of the Parties and what legal form the agreement should take remained contentious. The firewall between developed and developing countries is no longer appropriate at this time. COP 20 made good progress on climate finance, with the Parties pledging over ten million US dollars to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), thus creating the financial basis of the fund. Furthermore, during COP 20, Germany pledged another 50 million euros to another UN fund.

19th Climate Change Conference 2013 in Warsaw

COP 19/CMP 9, 11 to 22 November 2013

The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw was concluded with a range of important decision having been taken. Despite difficult negotiations, participants agreed on a road map for a new climate agreement and also on key elements for financing mitigation and adaptation measures. A key demand of developing countries was met with the introduction of a mechanism to deal with losses and damage caused by climate change. A breakthrough was also made in forest conservation. These decisions taken by the international community are a step towards a worldwide climate agreement to be adopted at the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris.

From 11 to 22 November 2013, representatives from almost 200 countries negotiated this worldwide climate agreement at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 9th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 19/CMP 9) held in Warsaw. Following the 2008 conference in Poznań, this was the second time Poland has hosted a climate conference.

18th Climate Change Conference 2012 in Doha

COP 18/CMP 8, 26 November to 7 December 2012

Following difficult negotiations, a package of decisions was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha.

The Kyoto Protocol was continued. The EU 27 Member States along with Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Croatia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Australia entered into a second legally binding commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. A clear decision was made on the controversial issue of whether countries that have not signed up for a second commitment period, like Russia and Japan, are allowed to participate in emissions trading. It was agreed that only the countries that have signed up for a second commitment period, listed in Annex B, can trade emission allowances. For a long time the closing plenary session was blocked by Russia's unwillingness to limit its allowances in the second period. An agreement was only reached at the last minute.

From the following year onwards, the new climate agreement would be negotiated according to a clearly defined roadmap. Negotiations are intended to be concluded before the Climate Change Conference in France at the end of 2015. For 2013 it was decided that negotiations will focus on the allocation of responsibility and obligation among industrialised, industrialising and developing countries.

The decisions made in Doha gave impetus for more immediate climate initiatives needed to meet the two degrees Celsius target. At the fringe of the conference many countries made the potential for more ambitious climate action clear; for instance initiatives for reducing hydrofluorocarbons and soot particles, or for increasing the share of renewable energies. During negotiations a process was established to clarify emissions reduction activities in industrialised, industrialising and developing countries. To keep the pressure on for a more ambitious climate policy, developing countries called for an international mechanism to deal with the damage caused by climate change.

The fast-start-financing contributed by industrialised countries between 2010 and 2012 was acknowledged within the context of the Doha Climate Gateway financial decisions. During the follow on period up to 2015, industrialised countries are expected to strengthen efforts in making funds available to the same extent as the average funds made available during the fast-start-financing period. The Green Climate Fund is to implement its work programme quickly so as to facilitate an appropriate replenishment procedure as soon as possible. The UN work programme for long-term financing was extended by a year, and was to provide information before the next Conference of the Parties (COP), with a view to supporting industrialised countries in their efforts to mobilise 100 billion USD annually up to 2020 from public and private funds.

Together with partners, Germany and the EU have established a working process for the introduction of a new market mechanism that step up climate action. No agreement could be reached as to whether international aviation and shipping should be included.

The complex UN negotiation process was simplified; two groups were set-up, one of which focuses on future negotiations – namely the Durban platform. On behalf of the Qatari Presidency, Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and the Singapore Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan carried out consultations on the negotiation process under the Convention and significantly contributed to the conclusion of the negotiation process.

17th Climate Change Conference 2011 in Durban

COP 17/CMP 7, 28 November to 11 December 2011

After two weeks of difficult negotiations, the longest UN climate summit in history ended with the international community agreeing take up negotiations on a legally binding climate agreement that includes all states the following year. On this basis the Conference of the Parties (COP) was able to agree on a second commitment period under Kyoto Protocol to follow on from the first commitment period which expires at the end of 2012.

  • From the beginning of next year, a new UN working group is to commence negotiations on the new comprehensive climate agreement. The goal is to adopt this agreement as soon as possible, but no later than 2015.
  • COP 17 agreed to continue the Kyoto Protocol for a second period from the beginning of 2013. The next UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar in late 2012 was to clarify issues, including countries' emissions budgets and surplus AAUs from the first commitment period.
  • The conference noted that the reduction offers from industrialised, industrialising and developing countries were insufficient to meet the two degrees Celsius target, much less the 1.5 degrees target. The level of ambition regarding greenhouse gas emissions reductions should be raised. It was planned to draw up an action programme for implementation, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the review process launched at the climate summit in Cancun contributing important information to this end.
  • Moreover, the conference decided on requirements for enhanced transparency regarding mitigation action by industrialised, industrialising and developing countries. Reports and reviews help to better understand climate measures and, ultimately, assess whether these actions are sufficient to avoid dangerous climate change.
  • Furthermore, the international community adopted the full implementation of the package designed to help industrialising and developing countries with their mitigation and adaptation measures. The most important element is the Green Climate Fund, scheduled to be operational in 2012. Its aim is to provide financial support for industrialising and developing countries in their climate action efforts. Next year, discussions will be held on mobilising resources for the fund. Germany will support first activities in developing countries with 40 million euros and has applied to host the secretariat of the fund.
  • The fund was made part of the overall international funding for climate action. Industrialised countries are standing by their pledge to mobilise funds from public and private sources. These funds are to total 100 billion dollars per year by 2020.
  • The support package for industrialising and developing countries includes a committee to support developing countries in taking measures for adaptation to the consequences of climate change, as well as a network and a technological committee for better dissemination of climate-friendly technologies . Both bodies will take up their work as swiftly as possible.

16th Climate Change Conference 2010 in Cancún

COP 16/CMP 6, Cancún 29 November to 10 December 2010

The Cancun Agreements were the first to officially recognise the two degree target in a UN decision and contain a reference to the submitted mitigation commitments from industrialised and developing countries, the establishment of a global climate fund, arrangements on adaptation to climate change, forest conservation (REDD+), technological cooperation and capacity building in developing countries. A procedure was agreed for reviewing whether measures taken will suffice to meet the two degree target. Moreover, basic agreements were made regarding the transparency of countries’ climate action (MRV – measurable, reportable and verifiable). Industrialised countries pledged under certain conditions to mobilise funding from public and private sources for climate action in developing countries. These funds are to total 100 billion dollars per year by 2020. The agreements reached in Copenhagen were thus turned into official decisions, developed further and operationalised. One year after the difficult summit in Copenhagen, the international community demonstrated that it is capable of taking action. The Cancun Agreements made the political agreement in Copenhagen official and provided a sound basis for gradually developing the international climate regime further and supporting developing countries in their climate action efforts.

15th Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen

COP 15/CMP 5, 7 December to 18 December 2009

The international community convened for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from 7 to 19 December 2009. The goal was to make binding decisions on central elements of a new climate agreement. This was not achieved. In Copenhagen a group of representatively selected heads of state and government only managed to draw up the Copenhagen Accord (CA) during the last two days of negotiations. This agreement is a political declaration that has been acknowledged by 140 countries. It defines some central components of future international climate policy. The climate conference plenary meeting, that is the assembly of all 194 parties to the Convention, took note of this text and used it as a basis for the negotiation process. Compared to the goals pursued by Germany and the EU at the Copenhagen Conference, the actual result was sobering. Nevertheless it marked a first step on which to build. The positive aspect of the CA is that this was the first time a large group of industrialised and developing countries agreed on the two degree limit. In principle, all other specific targets can be derived from this target. Other positive elements were the transparency requirements with regard to measures undertaken by developing countries and the statements of financial support. However, some crucial issues are not covered by the Copenhagen Accord. It was decided in Copenhagen that the negotiations in the working groups on future climate policies under the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol should be continued on the basis of the texts negotiated at working level in Copenhagen at least until the next COP in Mexico, where the results would be decided on.

Content of the Copenhagen Accord

  • Mitigation: All countries supporting the Copenhagen Accord committed to the goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to less than two degrees. This aim and the progress in implementing mitigation measures are to be reviewed in 2015. Industrialised countries committed to economy-wide reduction targets by 2020. Developing countries agreed to voluntary climate action for which they would mobilise funding and committed to report to the international community on measures supported by industrialised countries and to list the measures in a registry. These mitigation measures will be verified at national level based on international criteria (MRV - measurement, reporting and verification). National reports will be drawn up every two years. The targets and measures of industrialised and developing countries were inscribed in the Annex of the Accord in January. In the meantime, all industrialised countries, the major industrialising countries and many developing countries have specified their contributions.
  • Financing: The industrialised countries pledged up to 30 billion US-Dollars for climate action in developing countries from 2010 to 2012. At 10.6 billion US-Dollar, the EU made the largest sum available for fast-start financing. Under the condition that developing countries made meaningful and transparent mitigation commitments, industrialised countries were willing to make 100 billion US-Dollar available per year up to 2020 for climate action in developing countries. A new High Level Panel was established to monitor the progress in achieving this goal. A Copenhagen Green Climate Fund will also be set up to orchestrate a major share of the funds.
  • New facilities: Further plans include establishing a Technology Mechanism and a REDD+ Mechanism. These mechanisms are aimed at supporting developing countries in technology programmes and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. However, the Copenhagen Accord leaves the specific functions of these facilities open.

14th Climate Change Conference 2008 in Poznań

COP 14/CMP 4, 1 to 12 December 2008

The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 14) and the 4th session of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 4), took place in the Polish city of Poznan in 2008. COP 14 represented an important intermediate stage in the international negotiation process for a new post-2012 climate agreement, marking a transition from sharing the respective positions to concrete negotiations on the content of a new agreement. In this sense Poznan acted as a working conference in which key elements of a new climate regime were discussed and where the Parties could sum up their negotiating positions. The discussions on content focused primarily on the necessary national greenhouse gas reduction targets and on financial support for climate action in developing countries. The nature of the conference meant that no decisions were taken at that stage, but Parties agreed to submit their national reduction targets or measures for 2020 by mid-February 2009.

13th Climate Change Conference 2007 in Bali

COP 13/CMP 3, 3 December to 14 December 2007

The 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 3rd Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 3) in 2007 culminated in the adoption of the Bali Action Plan. In this Action Plan the Parties to the FCCC agreed to negotiate issues such as concrete commitments and contributions from all countries to emissions reductions (including a reduction of deforestation), adaptation, technology and financing up to and beyond 2012. Originally, these negotiations were to be concluded at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Copenhagen. In Durban it was decided that the work was to be concluded in Doha.

12th Climate Change Conference 2006 in Nairobi

COP 12/CMP 2, 6 to 17 December 2006

Discussions at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 12) and 2nd session of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 2), held in Nairobi in 2006, centred around African issues. The summit agreed on the principles and structure of the Adaptation Fund and on a five-year work programme on adaptation. The Parties also agreed that Africa should be supported through capacity building and assistance in the development of concrete projects and thus increase the continent's participation in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Germany and the EU announced that they would substantially top up the European Union's umbrella fund Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF). The aim is to mobilise around 1.25 billion euros in climate-friendly investments and thus advance the elimination of energy poverty, particularly in Africa.

11th Climate Change Conference 2005 in Montreal

COP 11/CMP 1, 28 November to 9 December 2005

The 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the first session of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (after the Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005) in Montreal resulted in the Montreal Action Plan, a roadmap to a post-2012 international climate regime.

With 189 signatories, nearly every country in the world is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Of these 156 states, including Germany and the rest of the European Union, have also ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Some countries, for instance the United States and Australia, only accepted the FCCC but rejected the Kyoto Protocol. These states participated in the Montreal negotiations as observers.

The roadmap on extending the international climate regime beyond 2012 comprised two parallel strands – one under the UNFCCC and one under the Kyoto Protocol: in May 2006, an new ad hoc working group held the first discussions on future reduction commitments for industrialised countries. Up to September 2006 Parties had the opportunity to submit proposals for structuring the general review of the Kyoto Protocol. Under the FCCC a two-year dialogue phase with four workshops was launched in spring 2006.

Moreover, following the Marrakesh Accords the Kyoto Protocol was fully implemented and equipped with a robust review regime. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was topped up with a further 7.7 million USD of funding, its organisation improved and institutional position strengthened. The summit also adopted the five-year programme of work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.

10th Climate Change Conference 2004 in Buenos Aires

COP 10, 6 to 17 December 2004

COP 10 focused on an issue of particular importance to developing countries - adaptation measures to the impacts of climate change that is already happening. Developing countries, and especially the poorest of the poor, are the hardest hit by the consequences of global climate change and do not have adequate funds to cope with these impacts. For this reason, they are pushing to be taken into greater consideration in international consultations on climate action. Increasingly frequent floods, droughts and storms, like those in 2004 in the Caribbean and the US, bring home the urgent and inescapable need for adaptation measures, not only in developing countries but in industrialised countries too. Climate change is advancing, and some adaptation measures will be necessary in the near future too, even if global warming does not exceed the two degrees Celsius upper limit set by the EU. Against this background, COP 10 also discussed the funding needed to implement the FCCC in developing countries. The consultations on strengthening institutional and personnel capacities, on technology transfer and the developing countries' national reports will be continued. COP 10 continued informal discussions on the further development of climate policy. These talks marked the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was celebrated at the climate summit.

9th Climate Change Conference 2003 in Milan

COP 9, 1 to 12 December 2003

The 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 9) in Milan was initially adversely affected by Russia's contradictory statements on its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the uncertainty regarding the date of the Protocol's entry into force and by the US going on the offensive in its climate policy approach in the media and at side events (voluntary agreements, technology support). Nevertheless, COP 9 was able to make it clear that the Kyoto Protocol had the support of the overwhelming majority in the international community. One key outcome of COP 9 should not be underestimated – the successful conclusion of the two-year negotiations on the rules for afforestation and reforestation projects in developing countries. This closed the last gap in the Kyoto Protocol's rules of implementation.

8th Climate Change Conference 2002 in New Delhi

COP 8, 23 October to 1 November 2002

The 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in 2002 in New Delhi took on a bridging function. Negotiations on the details of the Kyoto Protocol were essentially complete and it was expected to enter into force the following year. However, at the request of developing countries in particular, negotiations on a second commitment period were deferred until the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

For this reason, COP 8 held initial talks with key countries such as Brazil, India and China on the options regarding fair commitments for developing countries. However, these talks only took place on an informal level.

Besides this political discussion, decisions were taken on the design of the Clean Development Mechanism and the use of funds provided by industrialised countries for climate action in developing countries. In addition the New Delhi summit also discussed new guidelines on the national reports to be drawn up by developing countries, and agreed on a work programme aimed at raising awareness of climate issues and anchoring them more firmly in the Parties' educational programmes. At COP 8 Germany underpinned its pioneering position in the fight against climate change by announcing to the international community that it was prepared to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 if the EU committed to a 30 percent reduction and other industrialised countries made comparable commitments.

7th Climate Change Conference 2001 in Marrakesh

COP 7, 29 October to 10 November 2001

Among the key outcomes of the 7th Climate Change Conference were the Marrakesh Accords; this consisted of a package of 15 decisions on structuring and implementing the Kyoto-Protocol, including a system for monitoring compliance, using the Kyoto-Mechanisms the crediting of carbon sinks, and promoting climate action in developing countries. The adoption of the Marrakesh Accords at COP 7 smoothed the way for the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force.

On 31 May 2002 Germany and the other EU member states ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Other industrialised countries such as Japan, Norway and Eastern European countries also ratified the Kyoto Protocol. However, the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference failed in its aim of securing the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg at the end of August 2002, because other industrialised countries did not ratify the Protocol.

Continuation of the 6th Conference 2001 in Bonn

COP 6, 16 to 27 July 2001

The 6th Climate Change Conference in 2000 in The Hague was adjourned without result. COP 6-2, the continuation of this summit, took place in summer 2001 in Bonn. This meeting ultimately reached agreement on the main unresolved issues of the Kyoto-Protocol.

The Bonn Agreements on international climate policy were an historic achievement: in spite of the US backing out of the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001, at COP 6-2 the Parties reached an agreement and established the conditions needed to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol. The Climate Change Conference in Bonn also deserves credit for reviving the international climate negotiation process, which had lately come in for some sharp criticism. Had the Climate Change Conference in Bonn failed to get negotiations back on track it could have meant the end of the Kyoto Protocol, particularly after the failed Climate Change Conference in The Hague in November 2000. Late in the evening of 21 July the COP 6 President, Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk, submitted a proposal to ministers with compromises on the four disputed issues (CO2-sinks, the design of the Kyoto Mechanisms, the system for monitoring compliance, support for developing countries). After numerous consultations and two nights of negotiations, a generally acceptable compromise was reached on the basis of this proposal. On Monday 23 July 2001 COP 6-2 accepted the negotiation oucome in a consensus of the Parties (with US abstention).

However, Germany and the EU had to pay a high environmental price for this compromise. Concessions by the Federal Government and the EU included the very comprehensive crediting of sinks, vague wording on the extent to which industrialised countries must meet their reduction commitments through measures in their own countries, and the decision on the legal nature of the penalties for failure to meet climate targets being postponed to a future COP.

6th Climate Change Conference 2000 in The Hague

COP 6, 13 - 25 November 2000

Expectations of the 6th Climate Change Conference were very high and disappointment in its failure consequently intense. The summit had aimed to clarify the details of the Kyoto Protocol, but was unable to achieve agreement between the umbrella group, which included US, Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia, the group of developing countries and the European Union.

The main points of contention were:

  • The extent to which the temporary carbon storage function of natural forests and other sinks should be credited to reduction commitments made under Kyoto.
  • The inclusion of these sinks in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
  • The question of whether there should be binding rules on the extent to which industrialised countries must meet their reduction commitments through measures in their own countries.

The European Union felt that the ever widening loopholes threatened the ecological integrity of the Kyoto Protocol and did not agree to the COP Presidency's first compromise paper, which was submitted at a very late stage. Parties therefore decided to hold a follow-up conference in 6 months' time, where efforts to reach agreement would be renewed.

5th Climate Change Conference 1999 in Bonn

COP 5, 25 October – 5 November 1999

Unlike the Conference in Buenos Aires, COP 5 ended on an optimistic note. Since the Buenos Aires Plan of Action envisaged an ambitious programme for the next conference, the year leading up to the session saw intensive planning, with more frequent sessions of the subsidiary bodies and a larger number of high-level informal consultations.

At COP 5 itself the Parties discussed a system of monitoring commitments and the design of the Kyoto mechanisms, especially the (Clean Development Mechnism, CDM). Guidelines were also drawn up for industrialised countries' national emissions reports.

4th Climate Change Conference 1998 in Buenos Aires, 1998

COP 4, 2-13 November 1998

At the climate summit following COP 3 in Kyoto it became clear that despite the successful and celebrated agreement on the Kyoto Protocol many points remained unresolved. As always, the devil was in the detail. Nevertheless, Parties reached agreement on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, which specified that the detailed structure of the Kyoto Protocol should be completed by the 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties at the latest.

COP 4 was characterised by informal discussions debating whether developing countries should also make some form of commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This discussion was triggered by an Argentinian initiative. Argentina had announced it would take on a voluntary reduction commitment at the next COP. Many developing countries were, and remain today, very critical of such discussions and resist reduction commitments in any form. In this context they refer to the principle laid down in the Convention of the "common but differentiated responsibilities" of industrialised and developing countries for global climate change.

3rd Climate Change Conference 1997 in Kyoto

COP 3, 1-12 December 1997

Following long negotiations, the third climate summit achieved a breakthrough in international climate policy with the adoption of the Kyoto-Protocol.

2nd Climate Change Conference 1996 in Geneva

COP 2, 8 -19 July 1996

Shortly before the second Climate Change Conference in Geneva the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its second Assessment Report. A key statement of the report was that "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate". COP 2 accepted this report, which highlighted the urgent need for a binding protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The Climate Change Conference in Geneva saw the United States take a major step in this direction by abandoning, for the first time, its opposition to a legally binding Protocol.

1st Climate Change Conference 1995 in Berlin

COP 1, 28 March to 7 April 1995

The main focus of this first meeting of the Conference of the Parties following the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was to review whether the agreements contained in the Convention were adequate to combat climate change effectively. In the FCCC, Parties agreed on a voluntary basis to reduce the greenhouse gases of industrialised countries to the level of 1990 by 2000. The findings of the review were negative – instead of voluntary commitments under the Convention, a legally binding protocol was needed with new, national emissions reduction targets and clear timeframes.

To develop such a protocol an ad hoc working group was founded and tasked with fleshing out the Berlin Mandate. The Parties specified the aim of developing a Protocol in time for the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

Alongside this, COP 1 agreed on "Activities Implemented Jointly", first joint measures in international climate action. Projects implemented by industrialised countries for emissions reduction in developing countries were to be tested and supported in a pilot phase up to 1999. The group of developing countries initially objected to the introduction of this instrument, fearing that industrialised countries could use it to avoid their responsibility to carry out expensive reduction measures in their own countries. However, it was agreed that reductions achieved in the pilot phase cannot be credited against later commitments. The G77 ultimately accepted the instrument because of the accompanying technology transfer.

COP 1 also clarified some institutional issues, established a Secretariat of the Convention based in Bonn and set up the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

Stages of the climate change negotiations before 1995

1994 Entry into force of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro: signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change