©Published first time in November 2015 – Updated August 2021
As we write this new update to the Brief History of COP, the alarming news continues. Mega forest fires that happen at the same time in different parts of the planet: Russia, the United States, Canada, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece. The voracity of these fires, some classified as the worst in history, are also destroying places that did not burn before.
Scientists attribute the increase in global warming as the main cause of these fires. Warmer air causes drought, which makes trees and other plants burn more easily. Since the aggressive deforestation of the great forests of the Earth began, in the early 1970s, the humidity of its areas of influence has been reduced, the water cycle has changed, the rains arrive late, the summers are lengthened, the environment is warmer, and the drought is getting worse.
If this is not climate change, what is?
At the same time, we receive information about the great floods that follow each other in various parts of the Earth. Rains that in a few minutes turn streams into large floods. Precipitation has fallen in several places, accumulating levels in a couple of days that usually fall in a year.
Subways in some places turn into flood zones. Videos from China show people in a subway car with water up to their necks. Unusual snowfalls in southern Brazil. In several countries, balls of ice the size of a balls of baseball fall, injuring people, smashing cars and roofs of houses. The speed with which the Arctic is melting in Siberia alarms scientists. Argentina in a water emergency due to the lowest flow of the Paraná River in more than 70 years.
Climate change does not wait, and the planet is impatient
We cannot continue challenging our Mother Earth because we are going to lose out. COVID-19 showed us that we are not as infallible as we thought. The recently published IPCC Sixth Report indicates that current climate changes are “unprecedented” in recent centuries and even millennia.
The acceleration of climate change in these first 20 years of the s. XXI is unmatched. It will no longer only touch our grandchildren, as we have said so many times. Extreme climate change is not by the end of the century. Right now, it is among us, knocking on our doors, as we have just seen. We are on notice. We must all get involved in the fight against climate change, from the smallest and most personal, to the larger steps that are the responsibility of countries and other entities.
The importance of COP26 acquires special relevance
Faced with this surprising and unprecedented onslaught of weather patterns, the role of COP26, to be held this year in the Scottish city of Glasgow (Oct 31 – Nov 12), has acquired special relevance. There should be no excuse from either party to oppose reductions in CO2 emissions. If there are, the eyes of the world will be on them. We must all be vigilant. No issue should be left pending for COP27. Activating the global climate emergency is an option that is becoming more urgent every day.
There is good news in the fight against climate change
The COP26 Glasgow 2021 comes with green hydrogen, the “Race to Zero” and important advances in electromobility, wind energy and solar energy. Another piece of good news is the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement. All these issues are dealt in our Special Edition COP26 Glasgow 2021 – Paris Agreement, from now until the crucial meeting for the planet and humanity. There we talk about all this.
Let us move on to the “Brief History of the COPs”
While it is true that the world in this quarter century has improved its vision on issues such as global warming, climate change, wind energy, solar energy, green cities and electric cars, there is still much to do. When you read this Brief History, you will be able to make a list of good resolutions, ideas, promises, protocols and agreements that have fallen by the wayside. You will see that in many crucial meetings, where everything seemed to be going with a favorable wind, on the last night what had been built with the hands was demolished with their feet.
The Climate Change Conferences, a long history of disagreements and postponements.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established in May 1992, at the Second Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro. It came into force in March 1994 with the premise of strengthening public awareness on a global scale about the problems related to Climate Change. On this same occasion, the Conference of the Parties (COP) was created as the supreme body of the Convention and the association of all the countries that are part of it. Environmental experts, ministers, heads of state, non-governmental organizations participate in the annual meetings, and in some meetings civil society and the private sector.
1995 COP1, Berlin: the first COP Conference is born
From it came the Berlin Mandate, a kind of rather indefinite catalog of commitments, which allowed countries to choose the initiatives tailored to their particular needs.
1996 COP2, Geneva: consensus to set binding targets
The need to set “binding quantitative targets” on the limitation of GHG emissions by industrialized countries was adopted by consensus, with precise reductions for 2005, 2010 and 2020. It was agreed to address this matter the following year in Kyoto, Japan.
1997 COP3, Kyoto: the Kyoto Protocol is born with a date of death incorporated
COP3 met in the Japanese city and after intense negotiations the famous Kyoto Protocol came to light, which until then, together with the 1987 Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer, was emerging as one of the two most important documents and hopeful of humanity to regulate anthropogenic activities, capable of recovering the global environment. In Kyoto, binding targets for GHG emissions were set for 37 industrialized countries, but two of the largest emitters, the United States and China, did not ratify the document. It was agreed that the Kyoto Protocol would enter into force eleven years later, in 2008, and its expiration date was pre-set for 2012, establishing that developed countries should reduce their GHG emissions in those five years by 5% compared to the level. 1990.
1998 – 2006: nine COPs with little progress to be reviewed Between these dates, nine conferences were held:
1998 COP4, Buenos Aires / 1999 COP5, Bonn / 2000 COP6, The Hague and (2nd part), Bonn / 2001 COP7, Marrakech / 2002 COP8, New Delhi. / 2003 COP9, Milan. / 2004 COP10, Buenos Aires. / 2005 COP11, Montreal / 2006 COP12, Nairobi. They were almost lost nine years, used mainly in the finalization of the details of the Kyoto Protocol, with a view to 2008.
2007 COP13, Bali: the road to replacing the Kyoto Protocol
During the conference in Indonesia, an important step was taken on the road to replacing the Kyoto Protocol, without it having been activated by a new treaty. Furthermore, it was concluded that the signs of global warming are unquestionable, and the “Bali Action Plan” was finally adopted, which established the framework for negotiations that would lead to COP 15, Copenhagen, two years later.
2008 COP14, Poznán: the look towards Copenhagen
In this city of Poland, the program for the transfer of rational ecological technologies for developing countries was received in a positive way and the details were refined for the important appointment of the following year.
2009 COP15, Copenhagen: great hope ends in great disappointment
Finally, the long-awaited COP15 was reached, a meeting in which there was immense hope. It was thought that the Danish capital would be given the privilege of delivering the good news to the world, by announcing a new protocol for reducing GHG emissions: “the conclusion of a legally binding agreement on the climate, valid for the entire world. world, which will be applied from 2012”, as stated in its central objective.
This, in quantifiable terms, meant reducing CO2 emissions to less than 50% by 2050 compared to 1990. But the euphoria was short-lived. Three weeks before the start of COP15, a meeting was held in Thailand, in which China and the United States decided that the Copenhagen agreements would not be binding. In this way the fate of the Summit was cast before it began. It was bad news and the few hopes of saving her were buried last night, when the presidents of China, the United States, India, Brazil and South Africa, without the presence of the European representatives, nor the other countries, held a meeting behind closed doors and in just three pages they drew up a non-binding agreement that was not even put to a vote.
Finally, it was only exposed to the “awareness” of the attendees, together with the promise that in early 2010 a political platform would be worked on, the basis for building binding legal commitments at COP16. The summit, as expected, was described as a failure and disaster by many governments and environmental organizations. Herman Van Rumpuy, President of the European Council, in a confidential cable of US diplomacy, leaked by WikiLeaks, dated January 4, 2010, had very harsh expressions: “Copenhagen was an incredible disaster (…) the multilateral summits will not work”, and called the meeting “A Nightmare on Elm Street II” and blurted out the lapidary phrase: “Who wants to see that horror movie again?”
2010 COP16, Cancun: creation of the Green Climate Fund, an essential tool
Among the main agreements that were reached in Mexico, it is worth highlighting the creation of the Green Climate Fund, which establishes an amount of one hundred billion dollars each year from 2020, and thirty billion dollars for the period 2010. -2012, in order to help countries with fewer resources to defray the costs of the fight against Climate Change. The final document calls for adopting “as soon as possible” a decision on commitments for a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol that ensures “that there is no gap between the first and second period of commitments.”
2011 COP17, Durban: birth of the Kyoto-II Protocol and the beginning of its death
The luck of the planet was no better in Durban than in South Africa the previous year, although some progress was made by setting a date for the start of the second period of the Kyoto agreements, with a view to 2013. This presumed a legal vacuum in the matter. of Climate Change, which had to be avoided. The summit concluded with a roadmap for a global treaty, as required by the European Union, that would commit the major polluters that did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, such as China, the United States and India, 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 is extended, but it is impossible to resuscitate it
For some time it had been anticipated that in Qatar there would be no major shocks since their objectives did not seem complicated, although in practice the road was strewn with obstacles. The 194 countries gathered reached a minimum agreement, the “Doha Climate Gate”, which extended the Kyoto Protocol until 2020. Negotiations on larger donations from developing countries were deferred to the following year. Most of the delegations expressed their discomfort that the final agreement did not comply with the scientific recommendations, which called for energetic actions to counteract global warming. Carbon dioxide emissions for 2012 were already double their 1990 rates.
2013 COP19, Warsaw: mass abandonment of the summit
The initial objective in Poland was to reach an agreement so that by 2015 emissions of polluting gases could be reduced. However, this agreement was opposed by several countries, including the host, which has a coal-based industry. It should be noted that on this occasion the UN presented a document where it is assured with almost 100% certainty that human beings are the main cause of global warming since the 1950s. Finally, a roadmap towards a global pact was finalized. and binding in 2015, but many gaps remained open to be resolved at the Lima summit the following year. An outstanding fact was the massive abandonment, one day after the closing of the summit, of the NGOs and the unions, an unprecedented fact until that moment in the COP.
2014 COP20, Lima: great expectations and preparations for Paris, 2015
In the Peruvian capital, the most significant thing was that the United States and China announced a joint commitment to reduce GHG emissions for the first time in history, fundamental so that global warming does not exceed 2º C, a limit established by scientists. The UN considered that the objective was to reduce emissions between 40% and 70% by 2050 and to zero by the end of the century. The agreement, finally ratified, was an agreement that brought positions closer to Paris 2015.
2015 COP21, Paris: the Paris Agreement is born
The Paris Agreement is an ambitious global convention for the fight against Climate Change, negotiated in the framework of COP21, Paris 2015. It was adopted by 197 countries, and its signature officially began on April 22, 2016, the Day of the earth. Its application would begin in 2020. The Paris Agreement envisages limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C by reducing GHG emissions, caused by fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, which release dioxide when burned. of carbon (CO2) to the atmosphere. All this increases the greenhouse effect, the cause of global warming and climate change, with consequences such as the intensification of world temperatures, rising sea levels, floods, landslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and other catastrophic phenomena, capable of put in danger of extinction many species that inhabit the Earth, homo sapiens included. See related article: The Paris Agreement the hope of humankind
2016 COP22, Marrakech: a technical meeting
The twenty-second edition of the COP was held in the Moroccan capital, characterized by its low profile and scant media coverage, for which some have called it a “technical meeting”. At this meeting, a working paper was adopted to implement the Paris Agreement and a road map was approved that would lead to the rules that will guide the essential agreement. COP24, Poland 2018, was established for its conclusion and start of its implementation, a kind of bridge towards 2020, when the implementation of the Paris Agreement begins.
2017 COP23, Fiji-Bonn: first COP with two host countries
The twenty-third Conference of the Parties on Climate Change was held in Bonn from 6 to 17 November 2017. The German city provided the space, infrastructure and part of the organization necessary for the event. Fiji, a tiny Polynesian island country whose low elevation makes it highly vulnerable to the foreseeable effects of climate change, chaired the conference. Its prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, assumed the presidency of COP23 determined to maintain the momentum of the Paris Agreement. The United States appeared at the conference with a low-ranking delegation, following President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement. The speech of the representative of China evidenced a more active role compared to previous conferences.
Everything went normally until the last night a situation arose that paralyzed the meeting, which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action, told EFE: “nations that have not raised objections in the entire process prior to and during this climate summit, are putting them at this time with the hope of achieving results for their countries”.
2018 COP24, Katowice: controversy over the IPCC report
Between December 3 and 14, 2018, in the city of Katowice, Poland, COP24 was held, under the slogan “Let’s change together”. This would be the third time that Poland served as the stage for these important conferences. The 24th Conference of the Parties was one of the most secretive and least newsworthy meetings we have ever seen. Perhaps the chosen place and date contributed to the limited media coverage and the lack of interest from the public during the event, which only partially rebounded after the summit.
The controversy that occurred in Katowice this time was not about the Paris Agreement, but about the document of the IPCC, Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change, which presented its “Fifth Assessment Report” in October this year, the main objective of which is to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius from its pre-industrial level. This goal, according to said report, “will require unprecedented changes” at a social and global level, due to the seriousness of the planet’s situation, due to the sustained increase in world temperature, and all its foreseeable consequences.
An oil quartet made up of the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait did not welcome the report. The United States argued that welcoming him meant accepting him. President Trump was blunt in expressing that he did not agree with the IPCC report, nor did he believe in its content. The representative of Saudi Arabia went further and dared to say, behind the scenes, that “the Paris Agreement is dead.”
WWF Spain summarized what happened in Poland as follows: “World leaders came to Katowice with the task of responding to the latest data from climate science, which has made it very clear that we only have 12 years to cut emissions in half and avoid a catastrophic global warming. Progress has been made, but what we have seen in Poland reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of the current climate urgency on the part of some countries. Everyone’s future is at stake. We need all countries to commit to increasing climate ambition by 2020”.
2019 COP25, Chile-Madrid: Spain saves the conference
COP25 was held in the city of Madrid, Spain, between December 2 and 15, with the slogan “Time to Act”. The climate summit began in an unprecedented way, since Chile had to cancel the event at the last minute, due to the situation of political instability that occurred in the southern country since October. When everything indicated that it was impossible to meet the scheduled date, Madrid managed to organize the conference in record time, thanks to the timely intervention of the IFEMA group of companies and saved its completion on the scheduled date.
The twenty-fifth conference of the parties was attended by 25,000 people and the participation of 196 countries. The big absentees were Xi Jinping from China, Angela Merkel from Germany, Vladimir Putin from Russia, Donald Trump from the United States, Emmanuel Macron from France, Jair Bolsonaro from Brazil and Sebastián Piñera from Chile. Nancy Pelosi, president of the United States House of Representatives was present with a delegation of deputies and senators from her country. “By coming to the COP, we want to say that we are still here,” said the senator.
The three controversial issues, on which no agreements were reached:
- The chapter of ambition. The problem refers to the ambition of the main emitting countries (Russia, China, the United States, India, Saudi Arabia and others from the Persian Gulf). They refuse to cut their fossil fuel production. Recommended reading: Frequently Asked Questions about climate ambition.
- Carbon markets. The goal was to create a regulatory framework for a global carbon trading system, a complex issue included in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. It was finally deferred for later. Recommended reading: Frequently Asked Questions about carbon markets.
- The use of land and oceans. The text recognizes the importance of the oceans and soils in the climate system. In response to IPCC special reports released during 2019, the Bonn Climate Convention would hold an ocean dialogue and a land use dialogue in a June 2020 session. The two-day delay was due to resistance from Brazil in accept the document on the topic “Land use and oceans”. Finally, minimum agreements were reached.
At the end of the meeting, its top officials expressed their dissatisfaction with the results.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, said: “The international community has missed an important opportunity to show greater ambition in mitigation, adaptation and finance to face the climate crisis … but we must not give up.” He added that he was “more determined than ever to work towards making 2020 the year in which all countries commit to doing what science is telling us.”
Carolina Schmidt, president of COP25, said: “We are not satisfied. The agreements were not enough to urgently face the climate change crisis. Consensus is not yet in place to increase ambition to the levels we need. The new generations expect more from us. Women, young people and children are asking us for a stronger, more urgent and more ambitious response in order to act.”
Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition of the Government of Spain, indicated: “We would have liked to hear much stronger, much more serious commitments from the major economies.”
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, admitted that “The talks did not lead to an agreement. The disagreement between developed and developing nations was on the guidelines for a much-needed carbon market, an essential part of the toolkit to increase ambition that can harness the potential of the private sector and generate financing for adaptation (…)”.
2020 COP26, Glasgow: the conference that did not happen
In a statement of April 1, 2020, the UN announced that the summit had been canceled that year and announced that it would take place between November 1 and 12, 2021. Since its creation, no COP had been postponed until COP26 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 COP26, Glasgow: climate change does not wait, and the planet is impatient
COP26 is considered the most important climate event since the failed Kyoto Protocol in 2009, or the presentation of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Glasgow is the culmination of a quarter of a century of meetings, summits and conventions, a history of which has been a long chain of good intentions, which more often than not have fallen by the wayside.
COP26 will be held between October 31 and November 12, 2021, in Scotland, United Kingdom, located in the northern part of the British Island. In our Preliminary Information on COP26 Glasgow 2021 you can get a lot of data about the event and the city of Glasgow.
The Pre-COP and the Youth Summit
In the framework of COP26, Italy will host a series of preparatory meetings prior to the Conference, such as the Youth Summit and the Pre-COP. Both events will take place in the industrial city of Milan.
At the Youth Summit (Sept. 28-30) some 400 young people between 18 and 29 years old will meet to prepare proposals on issues related to the Pre-COP and COP26 negotiation process.
The Pre-COP (Sept 30-Oct 3) is an event that has been held for some years 30 days before the COP. Its purpose is to provide an informal setting for a group of countries to discuss and exchange views on key political aspects of the negotiations and to provide political guidance for subsequent negotiations. For more details see the Special Report 2021 COP26 and Race to Zero.
What is expected from COP26
There is great expectation for COP26 because it is going to complete the implementation of the Paris Agreement. There are no more excuses, postponements, delays, sabotage, last minute surprises or kicking the negotiating table. The long wait that began since the first COP is over. No more bets.
©2015-2021 Sandor Alejandro Gerendas-Kiss