The United Nations Climate Change Conference opened on Monday in Bali, a resort island of Indonesia.
Over 180 countries, represented by some 10,000 delegates, are taking part in the two-week conference from Dec. 3 to 14.
The main purpose of the meeting is to begin negotiations for a new climate change regime to replace the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.
The following are the chronology of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
1. Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met for the first time in Berlin, Germany in the spring of 1995, and voiced concerns about the adequacy of countries' abilities to meet commitments under the Convention.
These were expressed in a UN ministerial declaration known as the "Berlin Mandate", which established a two-year Analytical and Assessment Phase (AAP), to negotiate a "comprehensive menu of actions" for countries to pick from and choose future options to address climate change which for them, individually, made the best economic and environmental sense. The Berlin Mandate exempted non-Annex I countries from additional binding obligations, in keeping with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" established in the UNFCCC- even though, collectively, the larger, newly industrializing countries were expected to be the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions 15 years hence.
2. July 8-19, 1996: The Second Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP-2) was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Ministerial Declaration was adopted on July 18, and reflected a U.S. position statement presented by Timothy Wirth, former Under Secretary for Global Affairs for the U.S. State Department at that meeting, which accepted the scientific findings on climate change proffered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its second assessment (1995); rejected uniform "harmonized policies" in favor of flexibility; called for "legally binding mid-term targets."
3. December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan: The Kyoto Protocol was adopted by COP-3 after intensive negotiations.
Most industrialized nations and some central European economies in transition agreed to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of an average of 6 to 8 percent below 1990 levels between the years 2008-2012, defined as the first emissions budget period. The United States would be required to reduce its total emissions an average of 7 percent below 1990 levels. However, neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration sent the protocol to Congress for ratification. The Bush administration explicitly rejected the protocol in 2001.
4. Nov. 2-13, 1998: COP-4 took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It had been expected that the remaining issues unresolved in Kyoto would be finalized at this meeting. However, the complexity and difficulty of finding agreement on these issues proved insurmountable, and instead, the parties adopted a two-year "Plan of Action" to advance efforts and to devise mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000.
5. Oct. 25 to Nov. 5, 1999: COP-5 was held in Bonn, Germany. Ministers and officials from 166 governments concluded two weeks of climate change negotiations that centered on enabling decisions and a timetable for completing the outstanding details of the 1997Kyoto Protocol by COP-6 from Nov. 13-24, 2000 in the Hague. It was primarily a technical meeting, and did not reach major conclusions.
6. Dec. 13-24, 2000: COP-6 was held in The Hague, The Netherlands. The meeting ends without agreement and formal Plenary decides to suspend COP-6, reconvene in 2001.
When the COP-6 negotiations resumed on July 16-27, 2001, in Bonn, Germany little progress had been made on resolving the differences that had produced an impasse in The Hague. However, this meeting took place after George W. Bush had become the U.S. President, and had rejected the Kyoto Protocol in March; as a result the U.S. delegation to this meeting declined to participate in the negotiations related to the Protocol, and chose to act as observers at that meeting.
As the other parties negotiated the key issues, agreement was reached on most of the major political issues, to the surprise of most observers given the low level of expectations that preceded the meeting. The agreements included: Flexible Mechanisms which the United States had strongly favored as the Protocol was initially put together, including emissions trading; Joint Implementation (JI); and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which allow industrialized countries to fund emissions reduction activities in developing countries as an alternative to domestic emission reductions.
7. Oct. 29-Nov. 10, 2001: COP-7 took place in Marrakesh, Morocco. At the COP-7 meeting, negotiators in effect completed the work of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, finalizing most of the operational details and setting the stage for nations to ratify the Protocol. The completed package of decisions are known as the Marrakech Accords.
8. Oct. 23-Nov. 1, 2002: COP-8 was held in New Delhi, India.
9. Dec. 1-12, 2003: COP-9 Session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in Milan, Italy
10. Dec. 6 - 17, 2004: The 10th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP-10) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
COP-10 marked the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which served as a central theme for the meeting. In addition to the accomplishments of the past 10 years and future challenges, discussions at COP-10 highlighted a range of climate-related issues, including the impacts of climate change and adaptation measures, mitigation policies and their impacts, and technology.
11. Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, 2005: COP-11 took place in Montreal, Canada. The meeting was also the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1) to the Kyoto Protocol since their initial meeting in Kyoto in 1997. It was therefore one of the largest intergovernmental conferences on climate change ever. The event marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
At the end of the conference, the Montreal Action Plan was hammered out to "extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date and negotiate deeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions."
The conference attracted unprecedented business interest as a result of two operation trading systems: the pan-European emissions trading scheme and the Clean Development Mechanism, a tool to promote sustainable development and combat climate change.
12. Nov. 6-17, 2006: COP-12 and MOP-2 was held in Nairobi, Kenya. At the meeting, the phrase climate tourists were coined to describe some delegates who attended "to see Africa, take snaps of the wildlife, the poor, dying African children and women".
13. Dec. 3-14, 2007: COP-13 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the third Meeting of the Parties (MOP-3) will take place in Bali, Indonesia.
The conference, hosted by the government of Indonesia, brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media.