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Historic overview of COP (1995-2022)

Historic overview of COP (1995-2022)

Let’s start with a brief explanation of what COP is and why it has been created! So…COP, aka The Conference of Parties, is the apex decision-making body of the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was formed in 1994 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and to protect the Earth from the threat of climate change.

COP members have been meeting every year since the year 1995, and these include environmental experts, ministers, heads of state, non-governmental organizations, and in some meetings civil society and private sector representatives. The number of participating countries has been gradually increasing ever since the first year. As of 2019, the number of member countries in the UNFCCC has reached 197.

Another positive development in recent years was the emphasis placed on the participation of young people, by creating space and special events for them during each conference.  

Also important to note, is that organizing COP every year was a conscious decision for the countries to advance more effectively in the fight against climate change. 

OK, here is the chronological overview of all the historic conferences!

1. Conference of the Parties 1 

Berlin Mandate 28 Mar 1995 - 07 Apr 1995 

The first UNFCCC Conference of the Parties voiced concerns about the adequacy of countries' abilities to meet commitments under the Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (BSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

From it came the Berlin Mandate, a sort of catalog of commitments that was quite indefinite, allowing countries to choose initiatives tailored to their needs.


2. Conference of the Parties 2 

Geneva, Switzerland 08 Jul 1996 - 19 Jul 1996 

The second UNFCCC Conference of the Parties addressed the need to establish binding quantitative targets on the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries, with precise reductions for 2005, 2010, and 2020. 

The main achievements of COP 2 were the consideration of several reports on activities within the Convention’s mandate and the adoption of 18 decisions on DDT, exemptions, financial resources and mechanisms, implementation plans, technical assistance, synergies, and effectiveness evaluation.


3. Conference of the Parties 3 

Kyoto, Japan 01 Dec - 10 Dec 1997 

The main achievement of the third UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. This protocol lays the foundation of the carbon market. 

4. Conference of the Parties 4 

Buenos Aires, Argentina 02 Nov 1998 - 13 Nov 1998 

The fourth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties COP 4 was supposed to address and finalize the remaining issues unresolved in Kyoto. However, the complexity and difficulty of finding agreement on these issues proved insurmountable, and instead, the parties adopted a 2-year "Plan of Action" to advance efforts and devise mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000.

During this conference, Argentina and Kazakhstan expressed their commitment to take on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligation, the first two non-Annex countries to do so. 


5. Conference of the Parties 5 

Bonn, Germany 25 Oct 1999 - 05 Nov 1999 

The fifth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties took place between 25 October and 5 November 1999, in Bonn, Germany. It was primarily a technical meeting and did not reach major conclusions. The main achievement can be considered as the implementation of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action to reduce the risk of global climate change and also set out a collective strategy for achieving strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth. Furthermore, this conference marks the beginning of cooperation with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

6. Conference of the Parties 6 

The Hague, Netherlands 13 Nov 2000 - 24 Nov 2000 

The sixth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties discussions evolved rapidly into a high-level negotiation over the major political issues. These included: the major controversy over the United States' proposal to allow credit for carbon "sinks" in forests and agricultural lands that would satisfy a major proportion of the U.S. emissions reductions in this way; disagreements over consequences for non-compliance by countries that did not meet their emission reduction targets; and difficulties in resolving how developing countries could obtain financial assistance to deal with adverse effects of climate change and meet their obligations to plan for measuring and possibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the final hours of COP 6, despite some compromises agreed upon between the United States and some EU countries the talks in The Hague collapsed. Jan Pronk, the President of COP 6, suspended COP 6 without agreement. The continuation of COP 6 (termed "COP 6 bis") was resumed in Bonn, Germany, in the second half of July 2001.  


7. Conference of the Parties 7 

Marrakech, Morocco 29 Oct 2001 - 10 Nov 2001 

At the seventh UNFCCC Conference of the Parties meeting negotiators wrapped up the work on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, finalizing most of the operational details and setting the stage for nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The completed package of decisions is known as the Marrakech Accords. The United States delegation maintained its observer role, declining to participate actively in the negotiations. Other parties continued to express hope that the United States would re-engage in the process at some point and worked to achieve ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the requisite number of countries to bring it into force (55 countries needed to ratify it, including those accounting for 55% of developed-country emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990). The date of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (August–September 2002) was put forward as a target to bring the Kyoto Protocol into force. 


8. Conference of the Parties 8 

New Delhi, India 23 Oct 2002 - 01 Nov 2002 

The eighth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties adopted the Delhi Ministerial Declaration that, amongst others, called for efforts by developed countries to transfer technology and minimize the impact of climate change on developing countries. It also approved the New Delhi work program on Article 6 of the Convention.  

The Kyoto Protocol could enter into force once it was ratified by 55 countries, including countries responsible for 55% of the developed world's 1990 CO2 emissions. With the United States and Australia refusing ratification, Russia's agreement was required to meet the ratification criteria and therefore Russia could delay the process. So, COP 8 was marked by Russia's hesitation, stating that it needed more time to think it over. 

9. Conference of the Parties 9 

Milan, Italy 01 Dec 2003 - 12 Dec 2003 

The ninth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was marked by the agreement to use the Adaptation Fund established at COP 7 in 2001 primarily in supporting developing countries better adapt to climate change. The fund would also be used for capacity-building through technology transfer.  

At COP9, the parties also agreed to review the first national reports submitted by 110 non-Annex I countries. 

10. Conference of the Parties 10 

Buenos Aires, Argentina 06 Dec 2004 - 17 Dec 2004 

The tenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties discussed the progress made since the first Conference of the Parties 10 years ago and its future challenges, with special emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The parties also began discussing the post-Kyoto mechanism, on how to allocate emission reduction obligations following 2012, when the first commitment period ends. 

11. Conference of the Parties 11 

Montreal, Canada 28 Nov 2005 - 09 Dec 2005

The eleventh UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 1) since their initial meeting in Kyoto in 1997. It was one of the largest intergovernmental conferences on climate change ever. The event marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Hosting more than 10,000 delegates. The Montreal Action Plan was an agreement to "extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date and negotiate deeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions".


12. Conference of the Parties 12 

Nairobi, Kenya 06 Nov 2006 - 17 Nov 2006

The twelfth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was marked by the adoption of a five-year plan of work to support climate change adaptation by developing countries, and an agreement on the procedures and modalities for the Adaptation Fund. The parties also agreed to improve the projects for a clean development mechanism. 


13. Conference of the Parties 13 

Bali, Indonesia 03 Dec 2007 - 17 Dec 2007 

The thirteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was marked by the agreement on a timeline and structured negotiation on the post-2012 framework (the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol), namely by the adoption of the Bali Action Plan (Decision 1/CP.13).  

The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) was established as a new subsidiary body to conduct the negotiations aimed at urgently enhancing the implementation of the Convention up to and beyond 2012.

14. Conference of the Parties 14 

Poznań, Poland 01 Dec 2008 - 12 Dec 2008

The fourteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties primary focus was on the negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, the conference was marked by the agreement on principles for the financing of a fund to help the poorest nations cope with the effects of climate change and the approval of a mechanism to incorporate forest protection into the efforts of the international community to combat climate change.

15. Conference of the Parties 15 

Copenhagen, Denmark 07 Dec 2009 - 18 Dec 2009

The fifteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties overall goal was to establish an ambitious global climate agreement for the period from 2012 when the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires. However, on 14 November 2009, the New York Times announced that "President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement. Agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific "politically binding" agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future".

16. Conference of the Parties 16 

Cancún, Mexico 28 Nov 2010 - 10 Dec 2010 

The sixteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties outcome was an agreement adopted by the states' parties that called for the US$100 billion per annum "Green Climate Fund", and a "Climate Technology Centre" and network. However, the funding of the Green Climate Fund was not agreed upon. Nor was a commitment to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol agreed upon, but it was concluded that the base year shall be 1990 and the global warming potentials shall be those provided by the IPCC.  

All parties "Recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet, and thus requires to be urgently addressed by all Parties,". 


17. Conference of the Parties 17 

Durban, South Africa 28 Nov 2011 - 09 Dec 2011 

The seventeenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties agreed to a start for negotiations on a legally binding deal comprising all countries, to be adopted in 2015, governing the period post 2020. There was also progress regarding the creation of a Green Climate Fund (GCF) for which a management framework was adopted. The fund is to distribute US$100 billion per year to help poor countries adapt to climate impacts.  

While the president of the conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, declared it a success, scientists and environmental groups warned that the deal was not sufficient to avoid global warming beyond 2 °C as more urgent action is needed.

18. Conference of the Parties 18 

Doha, Qatar 26 Nov 2012 - 07 Dec 2012 

The eighteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties produced a package of documents collectively titled The Doha Climate Gateway. The conference made little progress toward the funding of the Green Climate Fund.  

19. Conference of the Parties 19 

Warsaw, Poland 11 Nov 2013 - 23 Nov 2013 

The nineteenth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was marked by several preliminary and actual agreements, including unused credits from phase one of the Kyoto Protocol, improvements to several UNFCCC action mechanisms, and a refinement of the measurement, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).  

Delegates also focused on the potential conditions of a final global climate change agreement expected to be ratified in 2015 at the Paris Conference. The conference led to an agreement that all states would start cutting emissions as soon as possible, but preferably by the first quarter of 2015.  

The Warsaw International Mechanism was also proposed. 

20. Conference of the Parties 20

Lima, Peru 01 Dec 2014 - 12 Dec 2014 

The twentieth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties is remembered by the fact that for the first time, all countries agree to develop and share their commitment to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. 


21. Conference of the Parties 21 

Paris, France 30 Nov 2015 - 12 Dec 2015 

The twenty-first UNFCCC Conference of the Parties negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December, governing climate change reduction measures from 2020. The adoption of this agreement ended the work of the Durban platform, established during COP17. The agreement would enter into force on 4 November 2016. On 4 October 2016, the threshold for adoption was reached with over 55 countries representing at least 55% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions ratifying the Agreement. 


22. Conference of the Parties 22 

Marrakech, Morocco 07 Nov 2016 - 18 Nov 2016

The twenty-second UNFCCC Conference of the Parties focal issue was that of water scarcity, water cleanliness, and water-related sustainability, a major problem in the developing world, including many African states. Prior to the event, a special initiative on water was presided by Charafat Afailal, Morocco's Minister in Charge of Water, and Aziz Mekouar, COP 22 Ambassador for Multilateral Negotiations.  

Another focal issue was the need to reduce greenhouse emissions and utilize low-carbon energy sources. Mr. Peter Thompson, President of the UN General Assembly, called for the transformation of the global economy in all sectors to achieve a low-emissions global economy.

23. Conference of the Parties 23 

Bonn, Germany 06 Nov 2017 - 17 Nov 2017

The twenty-third UNFCCC Conference of the Parties marks the progress made on the Rulebook to detail how the Paris Agreement will work in practice (Paris Rulebook), to conclude in 2018.

Facilitative Dialogues, known as the Talanoa Dialogue, were also created, a process allowing countries to share experiences and good practices to achieve the Agreement objectives. The Talanoa Dialogue Platform was launched to promote the participation and dialogue of local and indigenous communities.

A Gender Action Plan was adopted to ensure the role of women in decision-making related to climate change 


24. Conference of the Parties 24 

Katowice, Poland 03 Dec 2018 - 14 Dec 2018

The twenty-fourth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was held two months after the IPCC published its report analyzing the impacts of a 1.5°C global temperature increase, which focused the conference’s debate on a need for greater urgency in reducing polluting emissions. However, the report was not considered to be a guide for action in the texts agreed upon during the conference.

Meanwhile, the Talanoa Dialogue ended, with the next step being to review the 2020 climate plans to align them with the set objective of limiting global warming.

Also, one of the most important articles of the negotiation was left unresolved: Article 6 permitting the development of carbon markets. 

25. Conference of the Parties 25 

Madrid, Spain 02 Dec 2019 - 13 Dec 2019 

The twenty-fifth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was aiming to finalize the “rulebook” of the Paris Agreement – the operating manual needed when it takes effect in 2020 – by settling on rules for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation under “Article 6” of the deal.

The talks held were unable to reach a consensus in many areas, pushing decisions into next year under “Rule 16” of the UN climate process.  

Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency, and “common timeframes” for climate pledges were all punted into 2020 when countries are also due to raise the ambition of their efforts.

The conference is also remembered by a disconnect that was highlighted by a huge protest march through the heart of the Spanish capital and by the presence of climate activist Greta Thunberg, who arrived from her transatlantic journey by sail just in time to make several high-profile appearances in the COP25 conference halls. 


26. Conference of the Parties 26 

Glasgow, Scotland 31 Oct 2021 - 12 Nov 2021 

The twenty-sixth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties goals focused on the following topics: securing global net zero by mid-century and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach;adapting measures to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilizing finance in private and public sectors required to secure global net zero; finalizing the Paris Rulebook.  

The two headline outcomes from COP26 were the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact and agreeing on the Paris Rulebook.


27. Conference of the Parties 27 

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt 06 Nov 2022 - 18 Nov 2022 

In November 2022, the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt will host the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 27), to build on previous successes and pave the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change. 


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