What have we done so far?
For a livable future, we must have global greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and reduce them to net zero by 2050. Integrated climate strategies and business model transformation are the only way forward for solving the climate crisis – and thriving – decades down the road. That way is called climate action.
The goal of climate action is adaptation to climate change and mitigating its negative effects. Climate action is based on a system of international legal frameworks, mechanisms, measures and national regulations of countries participating in the climate regime. Although the countries give a decisive impulse to the entire course of climate action with their regulations and initiatives, it no longer depends only on the countries themselves. Today, global and national companies, non-governmental organizations and citizens alike participate in it. If they want to be part of a sustainable energy and climate future, companies and countries must be part of climate action. The most important moments in climate action so far are:
1972. Conference in Stockholm
The ongoing debate on environmental protection at the global level and under the auspices of the United Nations got its framework in 1972 at the famous conference on environmental protection in Stockholm. At the suggestion of the delegation of Yugoslavia at the time, the United Nations established June 5 as World Environment Day.
This is taken as the beginning of climate action on a global scale.
1979. Establishment of the International
Panel on Climate Change
1992. Summit in Rio
The first major subsequent global activity was the Summit in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the 1990s. Since then, numerous steps have been taken towards the establishment of a comprehensive climate regime for climate action.
The most significant step was taken in 1992 with the adoption of the Framework Convention on Climate Change under the auspices of the United Nations (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC), which became the main supporting pillar of activities to establish a global climate regime. The signing of this Convention was preceded by the first official, more professional and scientific meeting held in Geneva in 1979 under the name “First World Climate Conference” organized by the World Meteorological Organization. The most significant result of that meeting was the establishment of the International Panel in Climate Change (IPCC). It was the report that the IPCC published eleven years later, in 1990, that would serve as the scientific and professional basis for convening the Rio Summit in 1992
Since the Rio Summit under the auspices of the UNFCCC, first periodic and then regular annual world meetings at the highest level called the Conference of Parties (COP) began to be organized, and to date a total of 26 have been held. The last one was held last year in Glasgow (United Kingdom), and the next COP27 will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt).
Although all of them are significant because they give momentum to the whole process, some COPs were still more important in terms of their results. More significant events in that process during the past decades took place:
1997. Kyoto Protocol
The year at the COP in Kyoto (Japan) when the first global Protocol on the contribution of states to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto Protocol) was signed, which entered into force in 2005 and had a deadline valid until 2012.
COP13 in Bali (Indonesia) in 2007, when the Bali Action Plan was adopted, which provided for the formation of a global mechanism for financing the fight against climate change by establishing the Global Environment Facility, GEF.
Summit in Copenhagen (Denmark) when new financing mechanism was launched in the form of the Global Climate Fund, GCF.
Conference in Cancun (Mexico).
Conference in Durban (South Africa) when the “CITES” convention was adopted, which became one of the important pillars in preventing illegal trade in protected and strictly protected species.
Conference in Doha (Qatar). All these conferences gave a more optimistic impulse to the whole process. In Doha, the Doha Amendment was adopted, which was part of a wider package (The Doha Climate Gateway), which achieved the agreement of the signatory states to extend the validity of the Kyoto Protocol until 2015, three more years after its official termination, when it was planned to a new global agreement is adopted.
COP21 was the cornerstone for the establishment of a global climate regime after the Rio Summit (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997). At the Paris Summit in 2015, the Paris Agreement was concluded, a new and times the binding, global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that succeeded the one from Kyoto. This time, the states decided to take a different approach than the Kyoto Protocol. Unlike in 1997 when a global agreement on reduction targets was attempted which did not turn out to be a good path, in Paris countries decided to change direction and go “from the bottom up”, which in practice meant that the countries themselves obligate how much they will reduce emissions and then strictly adhere to it.
Conference in Glasgow (United Kingdom).
In 2020, the European Union adopted the biggest package of mechanisms and measures for climate action and green transition called “EU Green Deal”.
The next Conference is to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh.
In addition to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, in the last 30 years, several other important international conventions and agreements have been signed, which have become the basis of the climate regime. Climate change and environmental protection in general have thus become topics that have gained more importance on the international agenda, and a large number of countries in the world have put the conclusions of these conferences and the objectives of the Conventions into their national legislation, thus creating an obligation for companies and citizens in their territory in terms of reducing GHG emissions.
Climate change is a complex, multi-stakeholder problem that spans portfolio strategy, operations, product design, marketing, investor relations, and more. Adapting to global warming demands that business leaders take steps to mitigate risks and spur innovation. Addressing climate change can be challenging, but also presents opportunities for growth; as the energy transition accelerates, both the complexities and the opportunities are certain to increase.
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