Climate change has always been anissue in our society, yet not the most pressing one. However that has changedgreatly, due to scientific discoveries and advances within the 1950s that havecontinued and will keep continuing (World Meteorological Organization, 2017).Upon the realization that certain factors and our own actions where affectingthe environment, the global community started to bring further awareness tothese issues.
They did so by forming climate change conferences, the very firsttaking place in 1979, Geneva. The First WorldClimate Conference – Geneva, 1979The 1979 World Climate Conference is commonly referredto as the First World Climate Conference (FWCC). The 12 day long summit washeld in the International Convention Centre in Geneva from February 12thto the 23rd, with its main focus being global warming and how itcould affect human activity. It was attended by WMO, the United NationsEducational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO),the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), ICSU and other importantorganizations. The event was dubbed as “a world conference of experts onclimate and mankind”, and within the first week was attended by about 350specialists from 53 countries and 24 international organization (White, 1979).
By the endof the conference the organizers created a World Climate Conference Declarationincluding the following:”Having regardto the all-pervading influence of climate on human society and on many fieldsof human activities and endeavour, the Conference finds that it is now urgentlynecessary for the nations of the world:(a) To take full advantage of man’s present knowledge ofclimate;(b) To take steps to improve significantly that knowledge;(c) To foresee and prevent potential man-made changes inclimate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity (World Meteorological Organization,2017).” The conference was quite successful as directly after, it ledto the establishment of the World Climate Program, and spurred two more WorldClimate Conferences that continued to make significant scientific progress overa span of over 30 years. The Kyoto Protocol –1997 The KyotoProtocol was established in Kyoto, Japan on December 11th of 1997and put into action on February 16th of 2005. The Protocol commitsits participants to the set international binding emission reduction targetswith regular commitment periods where progress is checked. As the protocolrecognizes that developed countries are mainly responsible for the current highlevels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere due to many years of industrialactivities, the agreement places a larger load on developed nations under the ideaof “common but differentiated responsibilities” (United Nations,2013).
In Doha,Qatar, on December 8th 2012, the Doha Amendment to the KyotoProtocol was adopted. The amendment includes new commitments for theparticipants involved, a revised list of GHG to be reported on, and amendmentsto several articles that specifically referenced issues related to the firstcommitment period which are required to be updated for the second commitmentperiod (United Nations, 2013).Under theProtocol, countries must meet their goals, measureable by national standards.However, the Protocol also offers them supplementary methods to meet theirtargets by way of three market-based mechanisms.The Kyotomechanisms are as listed below:· International Emissions Trading· Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)· Joint implementation (JI)The KyotoProtocol is historically seen as the first step towards a global emissionreduction regime that stabilized GHG and CO2 emissions, as it wasthe first of its kind.
It has beenregarded as an agreement that can provide the framework for futureinternational agreements on climate change and the environment, however Canadadid not seem to share the same sentiment.In 2011Canada chose to exercise its legal right and drop out of the Protocol, as the countryhad signed onto it under a liberal government but no major efforts atimplementation had been made. “The Kyoto protocol does not cover theworld’s largest two emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannotwork,” the Canadian environment minister, Peter Kent said.
“It’s nowclear that Kyoto is not the path forward to a global solution to climatechange. If anything it’s an impediment,” (The Guardian, 2011). Canadajoined the US and developing countries that were not a part of the Protocol, asit specifically targeted developed nations when developing nations were alsoemitting large amounts of GHG (United States Failure to Sign the Kyoto Treaty).The CopenhagenClimate Change Conference – 2009 The Copenhagen Climate ChangeConference was a highly political environment as almost 115 world leaders werein attendance (United Nations, 2014). This made the conference one of the biggestgatherings of world leaders ever outside of the UN headquarters located in NewYork. The conference added improvements to the Clean Development Mechanism withinthe Kyoto Protocol and majorly progressed the negotiations on the infrastructureneeded for sufficient global climate change cooperation.
The conference only ended up producingthe Copenhagen Accord, which portrayed political intent to constrain carbon andrespond actively to climate change, in both the short and long term. The accordconsisted of leaders from the US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China. The Accord contained several majorelements. One element was their long-term goal of limiting the maximum globalaverage temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. However, theparties involved could not agree on how to do this in a rational way (UnitedNations, 2014). It also included a consideration to limit the temperature increaseto below 1.5 degrees – an important demand made by vulnerable developingcountries that would experience extreme affects from larger temperatureincreases (United Nations, 2014).
Other central elements included:· Developedcountries’ promises to fund actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adjustto the inevitable effects of climate change in developing countries. · Developedcountries promised to provide US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012. · Promisedto mobilize long-term finance of a further US$100 billion a year by 2020 from avariety of sources.
· Agreementon the measurement, reporting and verification of developing country actions,including a reference to “international consultation and analysis”,(which at the time, had yet to be defined). The establishment of four new bodieswas another element: · amechanism on REDD-plus· aHigh-Level Panel under the COP to study implementation of financial provisions· theCopenhagen Green Climate Fund· aTechnology Mechanism The Accord was a last minute endeavourthat was thrown together, but was no concrete means to an end. It was vaguewhen describing how countries could achieve the set goals and did not have anyreasonable methods to assess progress. At the time of the conference it wasonly agreed upon and acknowledged by a few countries, failing to sway themajority due to these reasons. Obama himself said, “This progress is notenough” and that they have come a long way but have longer to go (Vidal, John,et al., 2009).
The Paris Agreement –2016The Paris Agreement was a major win inthe fight against climate change, as it was the first legally binding globalclimate change deal that was universally accepted by 196 countries. Theagreement’s key elements include reducing emissions, transparency and globalstocktake, adaption, loss and damage, role of cities, regions and local authoritiesas well as support (Climate Action – European Commission – 2017). A long-term goal of keeping the increase inglobal average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and toaim to limit the increase to 1.5°C were two that governments agreed upon. Dueto the vague and flexible nature of the agreement, countries are able to settheir own goals within the parameters and justify them accordingly. 195countries were originally inclined to ratify the agreement with the exceptionof Nicaragua and Syria, however they have joined the agreement as of 2017,leaving the US as the only country left out of the agreement. President Trump planson leaving as it will put the country at a “permanent disadvantage” (Ballesteros,Carlos, 2017).
Steps for SuccessDuringthe climate summit conducted within our class, we were able to successfullycreate a working document and pass a motion and plan to fight against climatechange. Our summit was successful for a few different reasons. If those pointsand strategies that we used were to have been applied to a conference such asthe Copenhagen Climate Conference, the parties involved may have seen a betterand stronger outcome.
Ibelieve that the first step to having a successful climate change conferencewould be to listen to and acknowledge all of the countries involved within thesummit. As seen with the Paris Agreement, it was successful as all of thecountries were working towards a common goal but each are able to work towardsit at their own pace, according to their resources and financial standings, amongother things. Thatties into the goals being achievable, which I believe to be the second step insuccess. If the goals within the conference’s outcome are achievable they will beplausible for a country or any country to attain, which would motivate acountry much more than trying to strive for something that is impossible toattain. The final step is to make sure that the goalsconstructed by the conference are measurable.
This way, countries and committeesare able to track the progress made in the fight against climate change andmake sure that requirements are being met.