UN Climate Change Conferences

International climate policy

UN Climate Change Conferences

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force in 1994, is the foundation for global cooperation in climate protection. Since that time, the parties to the Convention have met in yearly conferences. They set a number of targets for reducing emissions of the most important greenhouse gases up to 2012, when the first commitment period ended.

An important milestone: the Kyoto Protocol

At the Climate Change Conference in Kyoto (1997) the parties reached an important milestone in their negotiations. The Kyoto Protocol was the only international agreement up to that time with legally binding climate protection provisions. A number of industrialised countries committed themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions during the period from 2008 to 2012.

Subsequent climate change conferences focused on reaching an agreement to follow up the Kyoto Protocol. Baden-Württemberg supported efforts by Germany and the EU to establish binding commitments on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and go beyond the Kyoto Protocol by including newly industrialised countries such as India and China plus the United States and Canada.

Difficulties in finding common ground

Owing to differing circumstances and diverging interests it was very difficult to find common ground. Nevertheless, at the Climate Change Conference in Cancún (2010) an agreement was reached to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In addition, at the conference in Qatar (late 2012) the Kyoto Protocol was extended. The second commitment period, from 2013 to 2020, involved fewer countries. They accounted for only 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which meant that the extension was basically symbolic.

An important step towards a big goal: The Paris Agreement sends out an encouraging signal

A number of conferences followed, with results that were sometimes encouraging but sometimes sobering. However, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21) from 30 November to 11 December 2015, the participants succeeded for the first time in concluding an international agreement that committed all the countries to climate protection.

Marrakech 2016 focuses on implementation

The Paris Agreement went into effect on 4 November 2016, just before COP 22 in Marrakech. It marked an important milestone because it was ratified by both China and the United States. The conference in Marrakech differed from previous COPs in that it focused on ways in which the participants could implement the Paris Agreement.

Bonn 2017 – Fiji Presidency to focus on implementing the Paris Agreement

The 23rd COP will be held from 6 to 17 November 2017 under the Presidency of Fiji but will take place for organisational reasons at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn. The negotiations will centre on important issues relating to implementation of the Paris Agreement, such as collection of data on greenhouse gas emissions and measurement of the effectiveness of climate protection measures.


Further Information

UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice 2018

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UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn 2017

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International Climate Initiative (IKI)

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EU climate and energy policies

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