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UNFCCC and the Famous COPs

UNFCCC: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


What is UNFCCC?

  • The UNFCCC (for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is the United Nations based framework that support the global response to the threat of climate change.
  • It was signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
  • The original secretariat was in Geneva. Since 1995, the secretariat has been located in Bonn, Germany.
  • The Convention has near universal membership (197 Parties) and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement and 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
  • UNFCCC established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • UNFCCC treaty is considered a legally non-binding agreement.

UNFCCC and the Famous COPs_3.1

What is Conference of the Parties (COP)?

  • Article 7.2 of the convention defines the COP as the “supreme body” of the Convention, as it is its highest decision-making authority. The climate change process revolves around the annual sessions of the COP.


Timeline of important COPs


UNFCCC COPs Year Venue Landmark decisions
UNFCCC COP 1 1995 Berlin, Germany
UNFCCC COP 3 1997 Kyoto, Japan Kyoto protocol adopted
UNFCCC COP 7 2001 Marrakesh, Morocco Marrakesh Accords—the most detailed outline of the rules and procedures for the functioning of the global carbon market instruments like International Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation
UNFCCC COP 8 2002 New Delhi, India Delhi Declaration:  focussed on the development needs of the poorest countries and the need for transfer of technology to mitigate climate change.
UNFCCC COP11/CMP1 2005 Montreal, Canada First session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
UNFCCC COP13 2007 Bali, Indonesia Bali Road Map and Bali action plan:  charing the way for a post-2012 outcome.
UNFCCC COP 14 2008 Poznan, Poland Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol launched.
UNFCCC COP15 2009 Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhagen Accord drafted.  A five nation accord between US and BASIC countries (India, China, Brazil and South Africa).  Developed countries promised to provide $30 billion for the period 2010-12 and to mobilize long term finance of further $100 billion a year by 2020.
UNFCCC COP 16 2010 Cancun, Mexico Green Climate Fund (GCF) established to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change.  GCF was intended to raise climate finance of $ 100 billion by 2020.
UNFCCC COP 17 2011 Durban, South Africa A new commitment to form a universal climate change agreement by 2015 for the period beyond 2020. This agreement effectively resulted in the Paris Agreement of 2015.
UNFCCC COP 18 2012 Doha, Qatar Doha Agreement: Agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol.  Climate Technology Centre (CTC) was established as an implementation arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism.
UNFCCC COP 19 2013 Warsaw, Poland Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) term was coined here.
UNFCCC COP 20 2014 Lima, Peru National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) should be prepared by the government. Launch of  NAZCA Climate Action Portal.
UNFCCC COP 21 2015 Paris, France Paris Agreement adopted.

Global Stocktake to be created every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Paris Agreement.

UNFCCC COP 22 2016 Marrakech, Morocco Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) was launched at the Conference.  Deliberations on “Orphan Issues”.
UNFCCC COP 23 2017 Bonn, Germany. (Chaired by Fiji) Gender Action Plan was launched. Ocean Pathway Partnership was launched, Talanoa Dialogue, Powering Past Coal Alliance.
UNFCCC COP 24 2018 Katowice, Poland ——
UNFCCC COP 25 2019 Madrid, Spain Establishment of Santiago Network.
UNFCCC COP 26 2021 Glasgow, UK Glasgow summit


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