In response to growing scientific evidence and mounting international concern about climate change, the UNFCCC was agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The following table sets out this and some of the other key international, EU and UK developments over the last decade and a half. More detailed information on these developments can be found in the UKCCP.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Held in Rio de Janeiro, the Convention, which has been ratified by 189 countries to date, saw developed countries agree to return GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. The UK was one of the few countries to achieve such a reduction.
This conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Japan established a legal framework for GHG emissions reduction targets, with an average 5.2% reduction required by developed countries by 2008-2012. It also established three 'flexible mechanisms' (Joint Implementation, the Clean Development Mechanism and International Emissions Trading) to allow countries to achieve part of their targets through action in other countries.
EU Environment Ministers agree allocation of the EU Kyoto target
In June, under the UK Presidency of the EU the EU burden sharing agreement was settled. The UK agreed to a 12.5% cut in GHG emissions as its contribution to the overall EU target of -8%.
EU Climate Change Programme
Published by the European Commission, this Programme contains 42 measures aimed at ensuring the EU meets its Kyoto Protocol target. Nearly all of these measures are now in place.
UK and Scottish Climate Change Programmes
The UK Programme was published in November, complemented by the publication of a separate Scottish Programme, to set out how the UK would meet its Kyoto Protocol target. The UKCCP also affirms the UK domestic goal to reduce CO 2 emissions by 20% by 2010.
Marrakech Accords agreed
The compliance system for the Kyoto Protocol was agreed in Morocco at the 2001 Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. This states that if a country fails to meet its Kyoto target it must make up the shortfall in the next commitment period as well as an additional 30% of that shortfall as a penalty.
UK Energy White Paper
Published in February the White Paper committed to a long-term goal to put the UK on a path to reduce CO 2 emissions by some 60% by 2050, with real progress by 2020.
Review of UK and Scottish Climate Change Programmes
The review was designed to evaluate existing Programme measures and possible new ones to ensure the UK remains on track to meet its Kyoto target and more ambitious domestic goals. A Scottish review was launched simultaneously.
Kyoto Protocol enters into force
The Protocol came into force on 16 February following ratification by Russia (which ensured that, as required, more than 55% of the emissions of Annex I Parties (developed nations)). To date, 162 countries have ratified the Protocol. (The UK ratified in 2002.)
EU Emissions Trading Scheme ( EUETS) starts
The scheme, which involves all 25 EU Member States and began on 1 January, is a key component of the EU's drive to reduce GHG emissions. The first phase runs from 2005-2007 and the second phase corresponds with the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012).
G8 Summit in Gleneagles
Scotland hosted the 2005 G8 Summit, which was chaired by the UK Government. Climate change and Africa were identified as the two key priorities and developing nations were represented at the Summit for the first time. The Gleneagles Plan of Action, which indicated that G8 nations would take forward a Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, was agreed.
Second phase of EU Climate Change Programme launched
Launched by the Commission in October, the second phase is aimed at addressing the following key issues: implementation of EU policies in Member States; passenger road transport; the inclusion of aviation in the EUETS; carbon capture and storage; and adaptation.
11th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Montreal
Held in November and December, this historic event was not only the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC but the first ever meeting of the Parties of the Protocol, as the Kyoto Protocol was now in force. One of the most productive conferences ever, over 40 decisions were reached, including agreement by the Parties of the UNFCCC - including USA and Australia - to hold a thorough dialogue.
Revised UK Climate Change Programme published
This Programme marks a stepping up of action by the UK Government to ensure progress towards its climate change obligations. Emissions projections show that the UK remains on course to meet its Kyoto target.