September 24, 2012

Peeling Back the COP: Part 1

Topic: Introduction and history of climate change negotiations


So, we have all heard of climate change, and all that appertains to it. Climate change mitigation and adaptation have become hot topics, and also one of the areas of focus for AYICC. But then, this topic can be overwhelming at times, and this was the case when I first set out to wrap my head around it. COP18 (18th Conference of Parties) is just around the corner, and there are quite a number of interesting issues that will be discussed.

Inspiration for this series

In looking for material related to climate change negotiations, I noticed that much of it is written for technocrats, making it “hostile” for beginners who are interested in learning about the climate change negotiation process. Therefore, I took it upon myself to come up with a series titled “Peeling Back the COP” (not related in any way to a book that goes by a similar title) that is aimed at demystifying the climate change negotiation process through short, snappy and fun articles that will be published twice a week – from now until the start of COP18 (end of November 2012).

Brief history of climate change negotiations

NB: I will try to keep this very simple, and where necessary, I will provide useful links that you can use for further research.

So, how did the climate change negotiation process start? In truth, it was the culmination of previous studies, discussions and issues brought up over the years, and the year 1990 saw major changes to the way this issue was perceived. During the UN General Assembly session of 1990, there were some negotiations that were undertaken with the aim of creating a formal body of addressing the issue of climate change. One of the results of the negotiations was the formation of a body that would come up with a convention that would deal with climate change; it was called the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC).

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee

This committee took fifteen months to come up with a convention for tackling climate change, and it aptly named it the Climate Change Convention. This convention was then presented before the UN Commission on Environment and Development (UN CED) for signing in 1992 - this was the famous Earth Summit.


I know that I promised to keep these posts short and fun (not yet there), so this marks the end of part 1. In the second part of this series, we will explore the Climate Change Convention in detail, as it is the basis of the climate change negotiation framework.

Note: If you are interested in contributing to this series, please drop me an email ( and I will be more than glad to have you on board!

See you in part 2 (Tearing apart the Climate Change Convention)!

Useful resources

1.     A brief history of UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention for Climate Change):

Compiled by: Kennedy Liti Mbeva



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