The highs and lows of COP from 1995 to the present day

Sustainability Magazine takes a look at some of the milestones – and setbacks – of the United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change over the years

The 27th iteration of the United Nations Climate Conference, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, was called by some the most significant climate accord since Paris in 2015.

The biggest news of the event was an agreement on loss and damage, which is the notion that rich, developed countries – by far the world’s largest emitters – pay poorer countries for damages incurred as a result of the changing climate. 

Many, though, claimed that COP27’s achievements were nowhere near enough to make significant headway towards lowering CO2 in the atmosphere to safe levels. 

Below, we take a look at the highs and lows of the UN's Conference of the Parties since 1995 to the present day...

1995: COP1: Berlin, Germany

The first ever COP is held wherein parties agree to the Berlin Mandate, which calls on specific, legally-binding targets to reduce developed countries’ emissions.

1997: COP3: Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Protocol is agreed upon, and this includes emissions’ targets for the six major greenhouse gases. The United States signs but fails to ratify the Protocol.

2007: COP13: Bali, Indonesia 

The Bali Roadmap sets a timetable for negotiations for a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol and include all countries, not only the developed ones. However, the Bali Action Plan did not require binding GHG targets for developing countries.

2015: COP21: Paris, France

Delegates agree to the Paris Agreement, to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2°C. Critics state that COP21 completely failed to challenge the fossil fuel industry, and the power it holds over countries around the world.

2017: COP23: Bonn, Germany

Prior to this conference, then-US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to pull out of the Paris Accord, which he subsequently went on to do. Countries in attendance agree to the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, with a coal phase-out planned for 2030 for developed countries, and 2050 for the rest.

2022 : COP27: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

During a breakthrough agreement, developed countries agree to a historic loss-and-damage fund, offering reparations to developing countries affected by climate change. Yet again, however, the conference failed to set real targets for clean energy transitions and reducing greenhouse gases.


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