AfroMont Editorial June 2017

It’s easy to get lost in the maze of the international climate change negotiations. I attended the UNFCCC COP 13 in Nairobi, and nearly collapsed under the weight of all the acronyms. Here is a good summary of the key international climate change negotiation milestones, sourced from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Volume 12 Number 691. Monday, 8 May 2017, and linked to information sharing on the Bonn Climate Change Conference 8-18 May 2017 in Bonn, Germany.


The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), which sets out a legal framework for stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties. In December 1997, delegates to COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six GHGs by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 192 parties.

The first commitment period came to an end in 2012, and in December 2015, at COP 21 in Paris, France, parties agreed to the Paris Agreement that specifies all countries will submit “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), and that aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years through a global stock-take. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, and, as of 7 May 2017, has been ratified by 144 parties out of the 195 signatories.

LONG-TERM NEGOTIATIONS, 2005-2009: Convening in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, the group of the Conference of the Parties for the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 1) established the Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in accordance with Protocol Article 3.9, which mandated consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period.

In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan (BAP) and established the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I parties’ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

COPENHAGEN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen met in December 2009. The event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. After lengthy debate, delegates ultimately agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord and to extend the mandates of the negotiating groups until COP 16 and CMP 6 in 2010. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. Over 80 countries provided information on their national mitigation targets or actions.

CANCUN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, convened in December 2010, where parties adopted the Cancun Agreements and agreed to consider the adequacy of the long-term global goal during a 2013-2015 review. The Cancun Agreements established several new institutions and processes, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Cancun Adaptation Framework, the Adaptation Committee, and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).

DURBAN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, occurred in November and December 2011. Among other outcomes, parties agreed to launch the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” no later than 2015, to enter into force in 2020. In addition, the ADP was mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the 2°C target.

DOHA: The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place in November and December 2012. The conference resulted in a package of decisions referred to as the “Doha Climate Gateway.” These included amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period (2013-2020), and agreement to terminate the AWG-KP’s and AWG-LCA’s work and negotiations under the BAP.

WARSAW: The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, took place in November 2013. The meeting adopted an ADP decision that, inter alia, invites parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). Parties also adopted decisions establishing the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM), and the Warsaw Framework for REDD+.

LIMA: The UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, took place in December 2014. COP 20 adopted the “Lima Call for Climate Action,” which furthered progress on the negotiations towards the 2015 agreement by elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and the process for submitting and synthesizing INDCs, while also addressing pre-2020 ambition. Parties also adopted 19 decisions that, inter alia, help operationalize the WIM, establish the Lima work programme on gender, and adopt the Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising.

PARIS: The UN Climate Change Conference convened in Paris, France, in November-December 2015, and culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Agreement specifies that each party shall communicate successive NDCs that it intends to achieve. By 2020, parties whose NDCs contain a timeframe up to 2025 are requested to communicate a new NDC, and parties with a NDC timeframe up to 2030 are requested to communicate or update these contributions. Starting in 2023, aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years in a global stock take.

MARRAKECH: The UN Climate Change Conference convened from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, and included the first Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Parties adopted 35 decisions, several related to the work programme under the Paris Agreement, including agreeing: that such work should conclude by 2018; that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement; the terms of reference for the Paris Committee on Capacity-building; and to initiate process to identify the information to be provided in accordance with Agreement Article 9.5 (biennial finance communications by developed countries). COP 22 also adopted decisions related to: the Convention’s implementation, including approving the five-year workplan of the WIM; enhancing the Technology Mechanism; and continuing and enhancing the Lima work programme on gender.

See more climate negotiation information from Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions