Key junctures in global climate negotiations

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 25, 2012
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The UN climate change conference will be held in the Qatari capital of Doha on Nov. 26-Dec. 7. The following are the five major junctures that the global climate negotiations have gone through in the past 20 years.


At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro of Brazil, participants from over 150 countries drew up the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide a general framework for international efforts and negotiations aimed at combating the climate change.

The convention took effect in 1994 and more than 190 countries as well as the EU have become its parties.

As the foundation for global anti-climate-change cooperation, the UNFCCC established as its core the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, under which developed countries are required to take the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and provide technological and financial support to developing countries to help them fight climate change, while the developing countries are required to take actions for their own part to mitigate and adapt to the warming climate.


The 1997 UN climate change conference in Japan approved the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding document that sets mandatory goals for nearly 40 developed countries in emission reduction.

The protocol's first commitment period, which runs from 2008 through 2012, requires the signatories to slash their overall greenhouse gas emission to 5.2 percent below the 1990 level.

However, some parties, particularly the members of the Umbrella Group, are not keen to implement the protocol. Most notably, the United States and Canada withdrew from the agreement respectively in 2001 and 2011.

Nevertheless, the 2009 Copenhagen talks ensured that after the first commitment period expires, there will be a second one, whose technical and legal details are high on the agenda of the upcoming Doha conference.


The 2007 UN climate talks in Indonesia struck the Bali Roadmap, which charted the course for the international climate negotiations.

The centerpiece of the roadmap is the double-track process, meaning two working groups, respectively under UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, will be the main platform for climate negotiations.

The roadmap also set a two-year deadline for negotiators to work out the post-2012 plans for coping with the warming climate. But the roadmap's mandate was extended twice due to a lack of agreement upon its expiration in 2009 and in 2011.


The 2009 Copenhagen and 2010 Cancun talks led to the founding of the Green Climate Fund, which pledged to provide poor countries with additional money to bolster their anti-warming and adaption efforts.

According to the plan, 30 billion U.S. dollars are to be raised before 2012 as the Fast-Start Finance, then 100 billion dollars each year are to be contributed to this fund between 2012 and 2020.

Last year's Durban conference officially kicked off the fund and defined it as the operating entity under UNFCCC's financial mechanism.

The upcoming Doha conference will focus on its effective fulfillment and implementation.


After long hours of debate at the 2011 Durban talks, the participants agreed to form a new working group responsible for developing before 2015 a legal instrument applicable to all UNFCCC parties concerning anti-climate-change efforts after 2020.

As the platform, formally Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (Durban Platform), was a product of compromise coming out in the extended hours of the conference, it is lacking in specification on its details.

When the platform was initiated earlier this year, rich countries tried to make it a "brand new table" for climate talks where the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is void, a move rejected by many developing countries.

The future of the Durban Platform is expected to witness more fierce confrontation if the developed countries continue to use this new mechanism as a tool to shake off their fair share of the responsibilities.

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