UNFCCC Summits

UNFCCC Summits [pdf]

10.1 Conference of Parties (COP)

 The COP is the decision-making body of the UNFCCC. All States that are party to the Convention are represented at the COP. They review the implementation of any legal instrument that the Convention adopts.

CMP: Conference of Parties Serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol

List of UNFCCC summits

COPYear Place
COP 11995The Berlin Mandate
COP 21996Geneva, Switzerland
COP 31997Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Protocol was adopted)
COP 41998
CMA: Conference of Parties Serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

COP 51999Bonn, Germany
COP 62000Hague, Netherlands
COP 62001Bonn, Germany
COP 72001Marrakech, Morocco
COP 82002New Delhi, India
COP 92003Milan, Italy
COP 102004Buenos Aires, Argentina
COP 11/CMP 12005Montreal, Canada (Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2005)
COP 12/CMP 22006Nairobi, Kenya
COP 13/CMP 32007Bali, Indonesia
COP 14/CMP 42008Poznan, Poland
COP 15/CMP 52009Copenhagen, Denmark
COP 16/CMP 62010Cancun, Mexico
COP 17/CMP 72011Durban, South Africa
COP 18/CMP 82012Doha, Qatar
COP 19/CMP 92013Warsaw, Poland
COP 20/CMP 102014Lima, Peru
COP 21/CMP 112015Paris, France
COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 12016Marrakech, Morocco
COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 1-22017Bonn, Germany
COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 1-32018Katowice, Poland
COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 22019Madrid, Spain

10.2 Kyoto Protocol (COP 3; UNFCCC Summit 1997)

 The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and came into force in 2005. It aimed at cutting GHG emissions across the developed world by about 5% by 2012 compared with 1990 levels. While India ratified the Protocol in 2002, USA never ratified it and Canada withdrew from it in 2012.

 Kyoto Protocol is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” and is the only global treaty with binding limits on GHG emissions.

Common but Differentiated Responsibility” means that while every country (both developing and developed) must take part in the fight against climate change, historically biggest polluters like USA, UK, Russia should contribute more to reduce GHG emissions compared to recent polluters like India, China, Brazil etc.

10.2.1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

  1. Annex 1: Developed countries like USA, UK and Russia + Economies in Transition (EIT) like Ukraine, Turkey and some East European countries are a part of Annex 1 countries.
  2. Annex 2: Developed countries are a part of Annex 2 (Annex 2 is a subset of Annex 1 countries). These countries are required to provide financial and technical support to EITs and developing countries to assist them in reducing their GHG emissions.
  3. Annex B: Annex 1 countries with first or second round Kyoto GHG emissions targets come under Annex B. The first-round targets apply over 2008-12 and the second-round targets apply over 2013-20. Countries under Annex B have compulsory binding targets to reduce GHG emissions.
  4. Non-Annex 1: Parties to the UNFCCC not listed under Annex 1 of the Convention come under this. These include mostly the low-income developing countries and have no binding emission reduction targets.
  5. LDCs: These refer to the least-developed countries and have no binding GHG reduction targets.

The Kyoto Protocol has two commitment periods: 2008-12 and 2013-20. The second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as Doha Amendment to the Protocol. As of January 2019, 124 states have accepted the Doha Amendment. Japan and Russia did not sign the second Kyoto term as it would impose restrictions on it not faced by its competitors like India and China.

Each commitment period has its own set of binding GHG emission reduction targets for developed countries to achieve. Nations that miss their Kyoto target will have to incur a penalty like getting banned from participating in the ‘cap and trade’ program.

Kyoto Protocol binds only the developed countries because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere, which are the result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.

Kyoto Protocol emission target gases include CO2, SF6, CH4, HFCs, N2O and PFCs.

10.2.2 Flexible Market Mechanisms 

Countries bound to the Kyoto targets can meet a part of their targets through three “market based mechanisms”.

  1. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
  2. Emission Trading/Cap and Trade
  3. Joint Implementation 

Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the projects handled pertain only to Annex 1 countries.
Note that Carbon Tax (tax on fossil fuels in proportion to Carbon Dioxide emissions) is not related to Kyoto Protocol.

10.3 Important UNFCCC Summits post-Kyoto


COPName of SummitImportant decisions
COP 13/CMP 3Bali MeetGovernments adopted the Bali Road Map which included reviewing the financial mechanism to fund climate change initiatives.
COP 14/CMP 4Poznan (Poland) SummitAdaptation Fund was launched in this Summit. The Fund is financed in part by government and private donors and also from a 2% share of proceeds of Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) issued under Clean Development Mechanism projects.

Adaptation Fund is supervised and managed by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB). The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides secretariat services to the AFB and the World Bank serves as the trustee of the Adaptation Fund on an interim basis.

COP 15/CMP 5Copenhagen SummitA legally binding agreement could not be arrived at in this Summit due to disagreement between developed and developing nations. The Summit thus concluded with the COP taking a note of the Copenhagen Accord-a five nation accord between US and BASIC countries (India, China, Brazil and South Africa).

Developed countries promised to provide $30 billion for the period 2010-12 and to mobilize long term finance of further $100 billion a year by 2020 from a variety of sources.

COP 16/CMP 6Cancun SummitParties agreed to establish a Green Climate Fund (GCF) to provide financing to projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries. GCF is based in Incheon, South Korea and World Bank was invited to serve as its interim trustee. GCF is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise climate finance of $ 100 billion by 2020.

A Technology Mechanism was also established in this Summit. It was expected to facilitate the implementation of enhanced action on technology development and transfer in order to support action on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

COP 17/CMP 7Durban SummitGoverning instrument for the GCF was approved in this Summit.
COP 18/CMP 8Doha SummitGovernment agreed to work towards a Global Climate Change Agreement. The Conference also reached an agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol.

It was also decided that UNEP-led consortium will be the host of Climate Technology Centre (CTC). The CTC is the implementing arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism.

COP 19/CMP 9Warsaw SummitThe term Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) was coined in this Summit.

Governments also decided to close the “pre-2020 ambition gap”- the gap between what has been pledged to date and what is required to keep the global temperatures below a maximum average of 2 degrees Celsius.

COP 20/CMP 10Lima SummitSome key outcomes were:

1.       National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) were to be prepared.

2.       NAZCA Climate Action Portal was launched with the support from the UNFCCC.

3.       Lima Work Programme on Gender was initiated to advance gender balance in climate related measures.

4.       UNFCCC NAMA Day (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions) was a special event that took place.

COP 21/CMP 11Paris SummitSome key outcomes of Paris Agreement were:

1.   Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016 after ratification by 55 countries that account for at least 55% of the global emissions. India signed and ratified the agreement in 2016 and as of 2019, 180+ countries have ratified it.

2.   INDC commitments were made by the major polluters.

3.   The objective of the Agreement was to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Further, countries should pursue to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

4. Developed countries reaffirmed their commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change.

5.       It was also decided that there will be a Global Stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual action by Parties.

6.       Earlier, USA has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, but has re-joined recently.

COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1Marrakech SummitSome key outcomes were:

1.       COP 22 was also called as “Action COP” or “Agricultural COP”. Accordingly, Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) was launched at the Conference.

2.       There were deliberations on “Orphan Issues” that are referenced in the Paris Agreement but not assigned to another body for further reconsideration.

3.       Directions were given to conduct an early stocktake through a “Facilitative Dialogue”.

4.       Few nations submitted “Mid-Century Strategies” to combat climate change. In line with this, a new initiative called the ‘2050 Pathway Platfor’ was launched to help other countries develop their own mid-century strategies.

COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 1-2Bonn Summit (Chaired by Fiji)Some key outcomes were:

1.       Fiji became the first small-island state to host the UNFCCC climate talks.

2.       Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action, was launched.

3.       Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform (LCIPP), aimed at bringing together people and their knowledge systems to build a climate resilient world, was launched.

4.       Ocean Pathway Partnership was launched, thus formally recognizing the links between oceans and climate change.

5.       Talanoa Dialogue, a process aimed at helping countries implement and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020, was launched.

6.       Powering Past Coal Alliance was also launched in COP 23, led by UK and Canada. The Alliance is aimed at accelerating clean growth and achieving rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

7.       InsuResilience Global Partnership is a joint initiative of G7, G20 and V20 (group of 49 most vulnerable countries including small islands). It was launched in COP 23 to strengthen the resilience of developing countries and protect the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people against the impact of disasters and other climate risks.

COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 1-3Katowice SummitThe Conference agreed on the “work programme for implementation” (guidelines/rulebook) for reaching the targets mentioned to implement the Paris Agreement, which will come into force in 2020. The rulebook will prescribe how governments will measure and report on their emission cutting efforts.
COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 2Madrid Summit (It was held under the presidency of Chile)Owing to its original location in Chile- a nation with around 4000 miles of coastline- the leadership dubbed this year’s event as the “blue COP”, laying out its intention to focus on oceans.

The COP also highlighted the fact that it is no longer a climate crisis but a “climate emergency”. Recently, UK and Ireland became the first and second countries respectively to declare a climate emergency.

The “Santiago Network” was established to catalyse the technical assistance required by the most vulnerable countries.

The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage (L&D) came into being in 2013 (COP 19). Under L&D, rich countries who have historical responsibility for climate change are asked to be liable to the developing countries who are already facing climate change impacts.

The Suva Expert dialogue on Loss and Damage was held under the aegis of UNFCCC, which discussed risk assessment, risk transfer, risk reduction and retention and comprehensive risk management approaches to extreme weather events and slow onset climatic processes.

Carbon Markets under the Paris Agreement:

1.       Market Mechanism 1: It sets up a Carbon Market which allows countries to sell any extra emission reductions {called as Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMO)} which they have achieved compared to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) target.

a.     This is a voluntary direct bilateral cooperation between countries aiming to promote sustainable development.

2.       Market Mechanism 2: The second mechanism will create a new international carbon market for the trading of emissions reduction created anywhere in the world by the public or the private sector.

a.     This new market is referred to as the “Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM)” which seeks to replace the “Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)” of Kyoto Protocol.

b.    The delivery of “Overall Mitigation in Global Emissions (OMGE)” is a key requirement of SDM.

Print Friendly and PDF