Timeline of various COP meetings

1992: Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro

The meeting that set up the architecture for negotiations on an international climate change agreement. It finalised the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the mother agreement that lays down the objectives and principles on which climate action by countries are to be based. It acknowledged that developing countries had fewer obligations and capabilities to bring down emissions. Developed countries agreed to a non-binding commitment to take measures aimed at returning to their 1990 emissions levels by 2000.

1997: COP3, Kyoto
Delivered the Kyoto Protocol, precursor to Paris Agreement. The Protocol assigned specific emission reduction targets for a set of developed countries, to be achieved by 2012. Others were supposed to take voluntary actions to reduce emissions. The Kyoto Protocol expired last year as Paris Agreement took its place.

2007: COP13, Bali
It reaffirmed the principles of CBDR in the efforts to find a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol, which developed nations were getting increasingly uncomfortable with, especially after the emergence of China as the world’s leading emitter. Developed countries want emission reduction targets for everyone, or for nobody, their argument being that without stringent action from China and India, the success of any climate action would not be possible.

2009: COP15, Copenhagen

Attempt to finalise a new agreement to ended in failure. Over 110 heads of nations assembled, but differences were too deep to be bridged. Countries agreed to try again a few years later. Developed countries committed to mobilising $100 billion every year in climate finance for developing countries from 2020.

2015: COP21, Paris
The successor agreement was finally delivered. The Paris Agreement does not assign emission reduction targets to any country. Instead, it asks all to do the best they can. But the targets they set for themselves must be reported and verified. The objective is to limit the global rise in temperatures to within 2°C from pre-industrial times.

2021: COP26, Glasgow
Was supposed to be held last year but postponed because of Covid. The rulebook for implementation of Paris Agreement is still to be finalised. The main remaining hurdle is an agreement over creation of future carbon markets, and the transition of pending carbon credits with some developing countries to that new market.

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