How UN Climate Conferences Addressed Global Warming

Nov 2 (Reuters) – This year’s United Nations climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, marks the 27th time since 1995 that world leaders have met to tackle global warming. But the world has known for much longer that climate change is a threat, and that the main cause is the use of fossil fuels and other industrial activities.

Here are some key moments in the global climate conversation:

1800s – Throughout the 1800s, several European scientists investigated how different gases and vapors could trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the 1890s, a Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius calculates the temperature effect of a doubling of atmospheric CO2, showing that burning fossil fuels would likely warm the planet.

1938 – While compiling historical weather data, a British engineer Guy Callendar shows for the first time that global temperatures are rising in the modern era. It correlates temperature trends with measured increases in atmospheric CO2 and proposes that temperature change is related.

1958 – American scientist Charles David Keeling begins to systematically measure atmospheric CO2 levels above the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii. His findings lead to the “Keeling Curve”, a graph showing steadily increasing CO2 concentrations.

1988 – James Hansenan American climatologist, testifies before Congress that the planet is warming because of an accumulation of greenhouse gases caused by man and notes that this is already modifying the climate and the weather.

1990 – At the so-called Second UN World Climate Conference, scientists point out the risks of global warming for nature and society. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said binding emissions targets were needed.

1992 – Countries sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit. The aim of the UNFCCC is to control emissions to prevent extreme climate change, but it also enshrines the idea of ​​”common but differentiated responsibilities”, which means that developed countries must do more because they are responsible for most historical shows. The treaty does not set binding emissions targets.

1995 – Members of the UNFCCC treaty meet for a first “conference of the parties,” or COP, in Berlin. The final document calls for legally binding emissions targets.

1997 – At COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, parties agree to the first treaty to require specific emission reductions. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are required to reduce their emissions between 2008 and 2012 below 1990 levels, with different limits assigned to different countries. In the United States, leading Senate Republicans denounce the deal as “dead on arrival”.

2001 – US President George W. Bush takes office and calls the Kyoto Protocol “fatally flawed”, its rejection signaling the country’s effective exit.

2005 – The Kyoto Protocol enters into force after its ratification by Russia, fulfilling the requirement that at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of emissions ratify the treaty.

2007 – Delegates agree at COP13 in Bali to work on a new binding agreement to include both developed and developing countries.

2009 – COP15 talks in Copenhagen nearly collapsed amid wrangling over binding commitments for the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol. Instead of creating a new framework, as the Bali roadmap proposes, countries are voting to “take note” of a non-binding political declaration.

2010 – COP16 in Cancun again fails to set new binding emissions targets. The Cancun Accords, however, establish a Green Climate Fund to help developing countries adapt and mitigate the effects, and set the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above average. preindustrial.

2011 – COP17 talks in Durban, South Africa break down after China, the United States and India refuse to sign binding emissions cuts by 2015. Instead, parties to UNFCCC agree to extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2017.

2012 – As Russia, Japan and New Zealand resist new emissions targets that do not extend to developing countries, the countries agree at COP18 in Doha to extend the Kyoto Protocol until in 2020.

2013 – At COP19 in Warsaw, representatives from poorer countries walked away for several hours due to a lack of agreement on how to deal with climate-related loss and damage. A watered down deal is finally made.

2015 – Global warming exceeds 1 degree Celsius. Extreme weather events, including floods, droughts and wildfires, continue to become more frequent and severe around the world, and countries are increasingly faced with these immediate threats from climate change.

2015 – The Paris Agreement is the first global pact to request emissions pledges from developed and developing countries, which are asked to commit to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with growing ambition every year. five years. Signatories pledge to try to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of the pre-industrial average.

2017 – President Donald Trump calls the Paris Treaty bad for the economy and says the United States will withdraw. It becomes official in 2020.

2018 – Teenage activist Greta Thunberg attracts worldwide attention as she demonstrates outside the Swedish parliament and over time gathers young people around the world to join her Fridays for the Future movement to demand a climate action.

2019 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls the lack of ambition shown at COP25 in Madrid a lost opportunity.

2020 – The annual COP is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

2021 – One of US President Joe Biden’s first acts is to join the Paris Agreement.

2021 – COP26 takes place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. The final Glasgow Pact sets out the goal to use less coal, asks governments to increase their climate ambition and resolved rules governing the trading of carbon credits to offset emissions.

2022 – National delegates gather for the UN climate summit, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 6-18.

Reporting by Andrea Januta; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker

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Teresa H. Sadler