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Climate Change Timeline

1985 – 2021 – Route to COP26

  • 1985

    Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer: the globe had already seen advancements in the scientific understanding of ozone depletion and its impacts on human health and the environment. It was then that the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was created in response. This agreement is a framework convention that lays out principles agreed upon by many parties. It does not, however, require countries to take control actions to protect the ozone layer. This would come later in the form of the Montreal Protocol.

  • 1987

    Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (agreed) - also known simply as the Montreal Protocol, is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.

  • 1988

    (November) IPCC Established - World Meteorological Organization WMO and UN Environment Programme UNEP establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC. To this day IPCC assessments are the scientific underpinning of international negotiations while also providing unique insights into, for example, managing the risk of extreme events and disasters.

  • 1990

    (November) IPCC & 2nd World climate Conference - The IPCC releases the first assessment report saying 'emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases' leading to calls by the IPCC and the second World Climate Conference for a global treaty.

  • 1990

    Creation of Multilateral Fund - The Multilateral Fund was established by the London Amendment to the Protocol in 1990. The phase-out of Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) will enable the ozone layer to repair itself. The Fund was the first financial mechanism to be born from an international treaty.

  • 1990

    (December) UN General Assembly Negotiations on a Framework - On 11 December 1990, the UN General Assembly establishes the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The INC held five sessions where more than 150 states discussed binding commitments, targets and timetables for emissions reductions, financial mechanisms, technology transfer, and 'common but differentiated' responsibilities of developed and developing countries.

  • 1990

    London Amendment - The 1990 London Amendment calls for a ban on the production of the most damaging ozone-depleting substances by 2000 in developed countries and 2010 in developing countries. 

  • 1991

    Phase out of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) begins

  • 1992

    Copenhagen Amendment- The 1990 London Amendment calls for a ban on the production of the most damaging ozone-depleting substances by 2000 in developed countries and 2010 in developing countries. The 1992 Copenhagen Amendment changed the date of the ban to 1996 in developed countries.

  • 1992

    UNFCCC opens for Signatures at Rio Earth Summit - The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change opens for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio, bringing the world together to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The UNFCCC has two sister Conventions also agreed in Rio, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The summit results in some of the first international agreements on climate change.

  • 1992

    (May): Convention Adopted - The text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

  • 1994

    (21st March) UNFCCC Enters into Force - The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, spawned two years earlier in Rio, enters into force. Signatories are not legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and give no targets or timetables for doing so. Countries that signed the treaty are known as 'Parties'. With 196 Parties, the UNFCCC has near-universal membership. Parties meet annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to negotiate multilateral responses to climate change.

  • 1995

    Vienna Amendment - Vienna Accord. In 1995, the Conference of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to phase out consumption of methyl bromide in developed states by 2010.  

  • 1995

    Berlin – UNFCC Signatories gather for the first Conference of the Parties COP1 - Germany's then environment minister, Angela Merkel, presides over the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) in Berlin, where Parties agreed that commitments in the Convention were 'inadequate' for meeting Convention objectives. The United States pushes back against legally binding targets and timetables, but joins the other countries in agreeing to strengthen commitments on limiting greenhouse gases. The Berlin Mandate establishes a process to negotiate strengthened commitments for developed countries, thus laying the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol.

  • 1996

    UNFCCC Secretariate moves to Bonn - The UNFCCC secretariat relocates from Geneva to its current home in Bonn, paving the way for the city to become an international sustainability hub and home to 18 UN organizations employing around 1.000 staff, of which the UNFCCC is the largest.

  • 1996

    The Third Conference of the Parties COP2 - Accepted the scientific findings on climate change proffered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its second assessment (1995). Rejected uniform "harmonized policies" in favour of flexibility, and Called for "legally binding mid-term targets’.

  • 1996

    Phase out of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) begins

  • 1997

    Montreal Amendment - After the Montreal Protocol was signed, new data showed worse-than-expected damage to the ozone layer. The Parties to the Montreal Protocol have amended the Protocol to enable, among other things, the control of new chemicals and the creation of a financial mechanism to enable developing countries to comply.

  • 1997

    (December): Kyoto Protocol Adopted - The third Conference of the Parties COP3 achieves an historical milestone with adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's first greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty. The legally binding treaty requires countries to reduce emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels and establishes a system to monitor countries progress.

  • 1998

    Conference of the Parties (COP4) - Buenos Aires Argentina

  • 1999

    Conference of the Parties (COP5) – Bonn Germany

  • 1999

    Beijing Amendment - The Beijing Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, (the Beijing Amendment) done at Beijing in November 1999, amends the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Montreal Protocol).

  • 2000

    Conference of the Parties (COP6) – The Hague Netherlands - the talks in The Hague collapsed. The President (Jan Pronk) of COP 6, suspended COP-6 without agreement, with the expectation that negotiations would later resume. It was later announced that the COP 6 meetings (termed "COP 6 bis") would be resumed in BonnGermany, in the second half of July. The discussions included 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.

  • 2001

    Bonn - A major breakthrough is achieved at the second part of the sixth Conference of the Parties COP6 meeting in Bonn, with governments reaching a broad political agreement on the operational rulebook for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

  • 2001

    (November) Marrakesh - The seventh Conference of the Parties COP7 -results in the Marrakesh Accords, setting the stage for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This would formalize agreement on operational rules for International Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation along with a compliance regime and accounting procedures.

  • 2002

    The Eight Conference of the Parties COP8 - New Delhi, India - Called for efforts by developed countries to transfer technology and minimize the impact of climate change on developing countries.

  • 2003

    The Ninth Conference of the Parties COP9 - The parties agreed to use the Adaptation Fund established at COP7 in 2001 primarily in supporting developing countries better adapt to climate change.

  • 2004

    The Tenth Conference of the Parties COP10 – Discussions on 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

  • 2005

    (January) EU Emissions Trading Industries - The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, the first and largest emissions trading scheme in the world, launches as a major pillar of EU climate policy. Installations regulated by the scheme are collectively responsible for close to half of the EU's emissions of CO2.

  • 2005

    (February) Kyoto Protocol Enters into Force - History is made when the Russian Federation submitted its instrument of ratification to the Kyoto Protocol, sealing its entry into force. Notably it does not include the United States, the world’s leading carbon emitter.

  • 2005

    2005: Montreal - Following the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol earlier in the year, the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP 11) for the first time is held in conjunction with the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties.

  • 2006

    (January) Clean Development Mechanism Opens - The Clean Development Mechanism, a key mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, opens for business.

  • 2006

    (November) Nairobi - At the twelfth Conference of the Parties COP12 held in Kenya, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice SBSTA is mandated to undertake a programme to address impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change - the Nairobi Work Programme NWP activities are ongoing.

  • 2007

    Bali - The thirteenth Conference of the Parties COP13 adopts the Bali Road Map, including the Bali Action Plan, charting the course for a new negotiating process to address climate change. The Plan has five main categories: shared vision, mitigationadaptationtechnologyand financing.

  • 2008

    Joint Implementation Mechanism Starts - The Kyoto Protocol mechanism 'Joint Implementation' starts. This allows a country with an emission reduction or limitation commitment under the Protocol to earn emission reduction units (ERUs) from an emission-reduction or emission removal project in another country with similar commitments.

  • 2008

    Poznan - The fourteenth Conference of the Parties COP14 in Poznan, Poland, delivers important steps towards assisting developing countries, including the launch of the Adaptation Fundunder the Kyoto Protocol and the Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer.

  • 2009

    (September) UN Summit on Climate Change – Seven world leaders pledge action plans to cut emissions by a ‘notable margin’ by 2020

  • 2009

    (December) Copenhagen - World leaders gather for the fifteenth Conference of the Parties COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, which produced the Copenhagen Accord. Developed countries pledge up to USD 30 billion in fast-start finance for the period 2010-2012.

  • 2010

    (December) Cancun - The sixteenth Conference of the Parties COP 16 results in the Cancun Agreements, a comprehensive package by governments to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change. The Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanismand the Cancun Adaptation Framework are established.

  • 2011

    (December) Durban - At the seventeenth Conference of the Parties COP17, governments commit to a new universal climate change agreement by 2015 for the period beyond 2020, leading to the launch of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action or ADP.

  • 2011

    (December) Momentum for change launched at COP17 in Durban South -Momentum for Change, a special initiative of the UNFCCC, shines a light on innovative and transformative climate action taking place around the world.

  • 2012

    (December) Doha - At the eighteenth Conference of the Parties COP18, governments agree to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement by 2015 and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond existing pledges to curb emissions. They also adopt the Doha Amendment, launching a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

  • 2013

    (September) IPCC Releases second part of 5th Assessment Report - The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)releases the Working Group 1 contribution to its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), on the science of climate change.

  • 2013

    Warsaw - The nineteenth Conference of the Parties COP19 - produces the Warsaw Outcomes, including a rulebook for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and a mechanism to address loss and damage caused by long-term climate change impacts.

  • 2014

    (March) 20th Anniversary UNFCCC- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) celebrates its 20th anniversary.

  • 2014

    IPCC Releases 2nd part of 5th Assessment Report - The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases the Working Group 2 contribution to its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

  • 2014

    Lima, Peru - The Conference of the Parties COP20 – (20th year) The conference delegates held negotiations towards a global climate agreement.

  • 2014

    (September) Un Secretary General’s Climate Summit - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to host a Climate Summit in New York, inviting Heads of State and Government, business, finance, civil society and local leaders to mobilize action and ambition on climate change in advance of COP21 in Paris in 2015

  • 2014

    (December) Lima - At the Twentieth Conference of the Parties, COP20 - World Governments will have the opportunity to make a last collective push towards a new and meaningful universal agreement in 2015.

  • 2015

    Paris, France - The Conference of the Parties COP21 – Historical ‘Paris Agreement Adopted’ - 195 nations agreed to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future, on 12 December 2015. The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

  • 2016

    (November) Bula - The conference of the Parties COP22 – Marrakesh Partnership for global Climate Action - A crucial outcome of the Marrakech climate conference was to move forward on writing the rule book of the Paris Agreement.
    The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway, and launched the Marrakech Partnership for Climate Action.

  • 2016

    Kigali Amendment- On October 15, 2016, with the United States' leadership, 197 countries adopted an amendmentto phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda. Under the amendment, countries committed to cut the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years.

  • 2017

    (November) Bonn, Germany - The Conference of the Parties COP23 - The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference will take place from 6 to 17 November at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany, the seat of the Climate Change Secretariat. The purpose of the conference was to discuss and implement plans about combating climate change, including the details of how the Paris Agreementwill work after it enters into force in 2020.
    Bonn will also make history by being the first COP to be presided over by a small island developing state: in this case by the Presidency of Fiji.

  • 2017

    (November) A Launch Pad for Higher Ambition - At the UN climate conference COP23 in Bonn, nations agree the next steps towards higher climate action ambition before 2020. Delegates launch the 'Talanoa Dialogue' to help set the stage for the revising upwards of national climate action plans needed to put the world on track to meet pre-2020 ambition and the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

  • 2018

    (October) IPCC Confirms Importance of 1.5c Goal - A special Global Warming of 1.5C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the need to maintain the strongest commitment to the Paris Agreement's aims of limiting global warming to stave off the worst impacts of climate change, which include more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms.

  • 2018

    (December) Katowice, Poland – The Conference of the Parties COP24 - Government Adopt Katowice Climate Package - In Poland, governments adopt a robust set of guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The agreed 'Katowice Climate Package' operationalizes the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement, promotes international cooperation and encourages greater ambition.

  • 2019

    (March) Africa Climate Week - Africa Climate Week in Accra is the first 'Regional Climate Week' of 2019. It will provide encouragement to the implementation of countries' Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and climate action to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

  • 2019

    (September) UNSG’s Climate Action Week - To boost ambition and to accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host a summit in New York. The Summit comes exactly one year before countries are set to enhance their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.

  • 2019

    (November) Madrid Spain – The Conference of the Parties COP25 – COP was divided into two zones – Blue Zone and Green Zone. The blue zone hosted sessions for negotiation between the parties of the COP. The green zone was dedicated to civil society initiatives aiming to promote social participation.

  • 2019

    (August) Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week - As another critical stepping stone to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' UN Climate Summit 2019 in September, the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week in Salvador, Brazil, will bring together diverse actors from the public and private sectors and demonstrate that there is genuine international support for stepping-up climate action.

  • 2019

    Phase down of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) begins

  • 2021

    (January) Joe Biden becomes President of the USA- will re-join the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

  • 2021

    (November) Green Finance Summit - Role of Green Finance in the recovery from COVID 19. To mobilise capital by converting momentum into action ahead of COP26

  • 2021

    (November) United Nations Climate Change Summit COP26