Skip to main content
Global Climate Change Policies

Global Climate Change Policies

1988 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Membership is open to all members of the WMO and UN with thousands of scientists and other experts contributing to the understanding of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports that have the agreement of leading climate scientists and consensus from participating government.
1990 - IPCC's First Assessment Report (AR1)
The report concludes that emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth's surface and calls for a global treaty on climate change.
1990 UN General Assembly Negotiations on a Framework Convention begin
The UN General Assembly establish the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for a Framework Convention on Climate Change around binding commitments, targets and timetables for emissions reductions, financial mechanisms, technology transfer, and 'common but differentiated' responsibilities of developed and developing countries.
1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The objective of the treaty is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” and provides a framework for negotiating specific international treaties (called "protocols") that may set binding limits on greenhouse gases.
1992 Rio Earth Summit
The UNFCCC opens for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio, bringing the world together to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
1994 UNFCCC Enters into Force
The UNFCCC enters into force. Countries that sign the treaty are known as 'Parties' who meet annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to negotiate multilateral responses to climate change.
1995 Conference of Parties 1, Berlin
Delegates agreed that commitments in the Convention were 'inadequate' and established a process to negotiate strengthened commitments for developed countries, thus laying the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol.
1997 Kyoto Protocol Adopted
The third Conference of the Parties achieves an historical milestone with adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's first greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty. The Protocol operationalises the UNFCCC by committing developed countries to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets and places a heavier burden on them under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”.
2011 COP 17, Durban
At the seventeenth Conference of the Parties, 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.
2012 COP 18, Doha
At the eighteenth Conference of the Parties, 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.
2014 - IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level"
2015 The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The 17 interconnecting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a “call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone everywhere” setting out a plan to achieve the goals. No. 13 addresses Climate Action with an objective to; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy. Further information can be found here.
2015 COP 21 – Paris Agreement
The first ever legally binding global climate change agreement universally adopted at the Conference of Parties in Paris in December 2015. The agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 20C and employ efforts to limit it to 1.50C. This agreement also aims to support, and build the capacity of, countries to be able to deal with the impacts of climate change. Further information can be found here.
2018 IPCC Confirms Importance of 1.5C Goal
A special Global Warming of 1.5C report by the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening, upgraded its risk warning from previous reports, and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact. According to the report, global warming will likely rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 if warming continues to increase at the current rate. Limiting warming below or close to 1.5 °C would require a decrease in net emissions of around 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
2018 Katowice Climate Package
At COP 24 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.