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4 COPs to save the World

Since the 1992 Earth Summit, climate negotiations are held every year with the gathering of the Conference of Parties. From Rio to Paris, through Kyoto and Copenhagen, let's have a look on the hopes and disillusions these meetings gave birth to.

© Bob Strong / Reuters / Stringer Shanghai

Rio 1992, the kick-off

Context: 20 years after the first Earth Summit, in Stockholm, Rio's shall emphasize the necessity for the United Nations to face global warming issues.
Main event: The Parties pass the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) fundamental text on which the annual negotiations are still based.
Where are we at? Rio is considered a success for introducing founding legislation and initiating the still ongoing climate discussions.

Kyoto 1997, the next level

Context: The 3rd COP is supposed to lead to stronger commitments from the Parties according to the negotiations initiated two years  ago in Berlin
Main event: On December 11th, the Parties sign the Kyoto Protocol. They commit to reduce their greenhouse gases emissions with precise objectives for the 2008-2012 period.
Where are we at? The Protocol needs a successor involving China and India as the superpower they became. Its credibility was damaged by the refusal from the USA to ratify it and Canada's withdrawal.

 

 

Copenhagen 2009, the disenchantment

Context: 12 years after Kyoto, this "last chance" summit is supposed to lead to a new, larger and more ambitious climate deal.
Main event: After unsuccessful negotiations, some Parties settle on a non-biding statement with the goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
Where are we at? The Kyoto Protocol is outdated. The COP organizers accept the Copenhagen crash and look forward to a new agreement in Paris.

Allegory: dashed hopes from Copenhagen.

Paris 2015, a fresh impetus?

Context: Six years after Copenhagen, the sense of urgency is stressed by alarming scientific publications.
Main event: Organizers want a new biding deal on the levels of greenhouse gases and the funding of the fight against global warming for developing countries. It's also an expectation from the public.
Where are we at? Negotiations are still ongoing, mostly about the distribution of effort between wealthy and developing countries. Parties submitted their own agenda for energy transition. Encouraging but insufficient, according to the UN.