II – A Chronology


1859 – Tyndall discovers that some gases block infrared radiation which could increase the effects of climate change if changes in their concentrations occurred (Weart, 2009).

1896 – Svante Arrhenius calculates for the first time the effects of human emissions of CO2 for global warming: doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would lead to a 5C temperature rise (Enzler, 2008).

1897 – Thomas Chamberlin produces the first global carbon model calculating the amount of carbon in rocks, ocean and forests (Cleveland, 2008).

1938 – At the Royal Society, G. Callendar argues that human emissions of traces gases were sufficient to lead to significant climate change. The Royal society remained unconvinced (Paterson, 1996).

1968 – Studies appoint the collapse of Antarctic ice sheets is possible and would lead to a rise in sea levels (Weart, 2009).

1970 – Environmental movements gain strong influence and the First Earth Day is commemorated. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is created as the world’s leading funder of climate research. (Nelson, 1980).

1976 – Deforestation is recognized as a major factor for the future of the climate (Weart, 2009).

1979 – The First World Climate Conference is held in Geneva. The conference focused on the impact human activities might have on climate change. For the first time, countries write a Declaration of the World Climate Conference that identified the concentrations of carbon dioxide as the leading cause of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and change in land use (WMO, 1979).

1980, 1983 and 1985 – A series of workshops organized under the umbrella of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Council of Scientists (ICSU) lead to a consensus that “in the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature would occur which is greater than any in man’s history” (WMO, 1985). After Villach 1985, the media began to show interest in climate change and it is now part of the international agenda (Agrawala, 1998).

1987 – Vostok ice-core data shows strong correlations between CO2 concentration and temperature for the last 160,000 years (Social Learning Group, 2001). The Beijer Institute from Sweden sponsors workshops in Villach, Austria and Bellagio, Italy which examined the consequences of climate change in human-made and natural environments and set the foundation for a climate change policy (Oppenheimer, 1989).

1988 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is created by WMO and UNEP in recognition of the problem of climate change. The purpose of the IPCC is not to conduct scientific research but to provide policy makers with scientific, technical and socio-economic information based on peer-reviewed and published scientific literature (IPCC, 2008). The Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere calls for a reduction in CO2 of 20% of 1988 levels by 2005. One of the propositions is to reduce deforestation and increase afforestation and to establish a trust fund to help to reduce tropical deforestation (Murty & et al., 1988).

1990 – IPCC releases the First Assessment Report that indicates that the increase of 0.3 to 0.5C in temperature in the last 100 years is consistent with the predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude of the changes that occurred in the natural climate. In addition, under a “business as usual” emission scenario, predictions point out that global mean sea level will rise about 6cm per decade over the next century. IPCC also recommends the launch of negotiations on a global climate change agreement (IPCC, 1990). After 11 years, the Second World Climate Conference is held in Geneva, its objectives are to review the UNEP/WMO World Climate Programme (WCP) and to recommend policy actions (UNFCCC, 1990).

1991 – The Conference of Developing Countries is held in Beijing, China. Developing countries emphasize that developed countries cannot expect developing countries to commit to any obligations in the near future regarding a climate treaty (WRHC, 2008).

1992 – The Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is held at the Earth Rio Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As most of the emissions come from developed nations, 26 articles defined the objectives, principles, commitments and recommendations developed nations should take to prevent and mitigate the effects of global warming even when full scientific certainty is unavailable. The US refuses to allow that the agreement to reach 1990 CO2 levels by 2000 should be legally binding (MMU, 2006). One article developed 15 principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests (UNDESA, 1992).

1994 – The FCCC comes into force after ratification by 50 countries (Harris, 2007). The FCCC not only regulates CO2 but also other relevant greenhouse gases (GHG) through a protocol for greenhouse gases and their sources and sinks (forests). Section 4 of Article 4 of the FCCC states:

“4.1 The Annex I Parties shall adopt national policies and take corresponding measures with regard to management, conservation and sustainable development of forests in order to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs.

4.2 The annex I Parties shall work towards ensuring that internationally agreed criteria are determined and applied for the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests” (INC for FCCC, 1994).

1995 – The first Conference of Parties (COP-1) is held in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin Mandate that will last two years but exempt developing countries is adopted; it will help to catalogue instruments from which member countries could choose to implement within their countries according to their country’s needs (Ministry of Climate and Energy of Denmark, 2009).

1996 – The Geneva Declaration that endorses the IPCC report is signed at the COP-2 in Switzerland. For the first time the US supports a legally binding agreement to fulfil the Berlin Mandate. Although strong declarations were proclaimed, member countries still had major differences and no agreement on a CO2 reduction target was reached. Member countries have the freedom to find the most adequate solutions to reduce emissions in their countries (IISD, 1996).

1997 – Member countries reached an agreement at the COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan whereas developed countries agreed to specific targets for cutting their emissions into a framework known as the Kyoto Protocol. It is the first ever legally binding global agreement in human history. A compromise between the European Union (EU) that called for 15% reduction and the US that proposed to only stabilize emissions resulted in a 5.2% overall reduction of emissions of GHG below 1990 levels for the period 2008-2012, with the EU reducing by 8%, the US by 7% and Japan by 6% (Pettenger, 2007). The Kyoto Protocol also includes flexible mechanisms such as Emissions Trading (ET), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) which allows countries to meet their binding targets by trading GHG credits (Cheng & et al, 2008).

1998 – The COP-4 is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina to finalise unresolved issues from Kyoto, but the complexity of the negotiations made it is impossible to reach any agreement. A Plan of Action, to be completed by 2000, is set up to work on mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol (FCCC, 1999).

1999 – The COP-5 is hosted in Bonn, Germany and focussed on developing rules and guidelines for ET, CDM and JI and negotiating the definition and use of forestry activities and additional sinks and understanding the basics of a compliance system, with an effort to complete the work at COP-6 (EIAOIAF, 2001)

2000 – The COP-6 at The Hague, Netherlands is marked by the collapse of the negotiations. The US proposed to include agricultural and forest areas as carbon sinks, fulfilling its obligation to reduce its GHG emissions at the same time. In addition, problems arised regarding the definition of sanctions for countries that do not fulfill their obligations. The EU refused a compromise proposal and the US asked to resume negotiations at an extraordinary conference in July 2001(Harrison, et al., 2004).

2001 – Before the COP-6 bis in Bonn, Germany, US President George Bush declares that “Kyoto is dead” as the senate voted 95-0 against the Kyoto Protocol. Without the US, political agreement is still reached and countries agree to ratify and implement the Protocol (Moens, 2004).

COP-7 is held in Marrakesh, Morocco. The US remained an observer and negotiations continued setting the stage for nations to ratify the Protocol. The main decisions included operational rules for international emissions trading and for the CDM and JI; a compliance regime that outlines the consequences of failure to meet the targets; accounting procedures for the flexibility mechanisms. The results were gathered in the so-called Marrakesh Accords (Karling, 2007).

2002 – New Delhi, India holds the COP-8 where the Delhi Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development is signed. The EU attempt (Yamin & et al., 2004) to pass a declaration calling for more action but were unsuccessful. The key points were that development and eradication of poverty are the main priority of developing countries. Also, several decisions were made on the Rules of Procedures of the Executive Board (EB) of the CDM (Gutierrez & et al., 2003).

2003 – COP-9 is held in Milan, Italy with the purpose of this conference being to finish some of the technical details regarding the Kyoto Protocol. The COP highlighted the differences between developed and developing countries but the future remains positive as most of the countries appealed “for a stronger role of the UNFCCC to deliver the basis of an equitable global climate change regime for strong climate action, dedicated leadership, information sharing and future thinking” (Gutierrez & et al., 2003). Afforestation and reforestation are included in the CDM rules as baselines, additionality and leakage are defined while avoided deforestation and agriculture are purposely neglected (Boyd & et al., 2004).

2004 – Russia, which is responsible for 17% of total emissions, ratifies the Kyoto Protocol as the EU promises to participate in negotiations with Russia in order to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). The minimum of 55 countries emitting at least 55% of global emissions is passed and the Kyoto Protocol becomes a reality (Van Tudler & et al., 2006). COP-10 is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina and celebrated 10 years of the UNFCCC’s starting activities. The COP highlighted a range of climate related issues such as the impacts of climate change, adaptation measures, mitigation policies and their impacts and technology (US DOE, 2004).

2005 – 90 days after Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the amendment was fully incepted on the 16th February. The EU created and opened an internal emissions trading market making it possible to achieve the greatest total reduction in emissions at the lowest cost (Schwabach, 2005). COP-11/CMP1 is held in Montreal, Canada. It is the first conference to occur after the Kyoto Protocol was initiated. The Conference Meeting of the Parties (CMP) focussed on discussing what should happen after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires. Countries that ratified the UNFCCC but had not ratified the Kyoto Protocol could join the CMP but only as an observer (Ministry of Climate and Energy of Denmark, 2009). Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) in developing countries was first introduced by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica and supported by 8 other Parties; it received wide support from Parties and a process to address the issue was initiated (PNG & CR, 2005).

2006 – The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is released in October 2006. The Review assessed a wide range of evidence on the impacts of climate change and on the economic costs. A simple conclusion is reached: “The benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting”; the cost of early action can be limited to 1% of global GDP each year, if no action is taken, 5% of global GDP is lost every year and could rise to 20% of global GDP if a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account (Stern, 2006).

COP12/CMP2 is held in Nairobi, Kenya. The last remaining technical questions were answered and a series of milestones were established towards a new agreement after 2012. Brazil takes a special interest in RED and debate in the country intensified (Palmer & et al., 2009).

2007 – The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) is released by the IPCC in February and concludes that evidence of 20th century global warming is unequivocal; very high confidence that global warming is influenced by human activities; and continued warming is virtually certain. Direct observation of recent climate change is already possible such as the decline of mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined, sea levels have rise 1.8mm per year since 1961 and the Arctic ice extent has shrunk by 2.7% (Solomon & et al., 2007).

COP13/CMP3 is held in Bali, Indonesia where a new agreement took a decisive step forward to replace the Kyoto Protocol, first by acknowledging the AR4 from the IPCC, second by calling for a swifter action in this area and finally with the adoption of the Bali Action Plan that set the base for COP15, where a new agreement post-Kyoto can be negotiated (Ministry of Climate and Energy of Denmark, 2009).

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is finally being negotiated as a strong tool to reduce emissions. The first pilot projects are authorized in Panama and Guyana and another 12 countries and will be financed by the World Bank helping to write policies for the post Kyoto period (Egenhofer, 2008).

2008 – COP14/CMP4 in Poznan, Poland is midway and has helped to prepare for the post-2012 treaty deadline in December 2009 in Copenhagen. A new development policy gained support: “Sectoral Approach to Mitigation”. This policy applies to all companies across countries but operates in the same sector such as aviation, transport or cement. This affects the sector as a whole rather than with different targets from different countries (Wright, 21/12/2008). Several other policies were discussed such as the Adaptation Fund, CDM, REDD, technology transfer and financing. No significant achievements materialised as most countries were waiting for the position of the new US administration to negotiate their position (Murphy, 2009).

2009 – Climate Change Talks in Bonn, Germany is held in June to enhance international climate change cooperation for the post-2012 period to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. Although no agreement on targets is reached, works moved strongly as governments made clearer their positions (Climate-L, 2009).

G8 countries meet at L’Aquila, Italy in July to discuss a new deal on climate change with the G-5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa); the agreement specified to limit global warming to just 2C above pre-industrial levels and for rich nations to cut emissions by 80% while the world overall should reduce them 50% by 2050. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as some G-5 countries criticised that targets for 2020 were dismissed while Brazil said that there was still time to close the gap between developed and developing countries in time for Copenhagen (Black, 09/07/2009).

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