Stockholm Conference (1972)

The First United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, also known as Stockholm Conference, revolved around the chemical pollution, atomic testing and whaling, issues that at that time marked the great global concerns in environmental matters. The weather, however, was not yet present at the convention. For the first time in an international forum, social and economic aspects were jointly analyzed as part of the environmental problem. It was also at this time that the world community, for the first time, certified the damage caused by humans to the planet. This summit is usually considered as the starting point in the evolution of modern International Environmental Law.

Montreal Protocol (1987)

It is the treaty referring to hole in the ozone layer. In 1985 the existence of this problem was confirmed, announced for some years by scientists. Chlorofluorocarbon gases, present in refrigeration systems, hair spray or deodorants, were rapidly destroying the ozone layer in the atmosphere, which slows down ultraviolet radiation. That was going to mean, among many other things, a sharp increase in cancers of skin. The UN played an important role in international mediation, although the support of the leaders of Great Britain and the United States, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, was also decisive at that time. Finally, in 1987 a total of 190 countries signed the Montreal Protocol, which established the progressive prohibition of these gases. It was the most successful environmental agreement to date, and of better results.

Earth Summit (1992)

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (popularly known as the Earth Summit), a total of 172 governments approved an ambitious program of action for global sustainable development: Agenda 21. It was a set of specific actions to stop the environmental degradation of the planet, both globally and locally, and promote the recovery of the natural environment and human well-being. It was at the Earth Summit where the concept of sustainable development was defined: “The type of development that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It was also here that the COPs were born, that is, the Conferences of the Parties, whose 26th edition is now being held in Glasgow. The Earth Summit approved the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes a Conference of the Parties to monitor and update climate-related strategies. 25 have already been held so far, but many of them made little progress. The Convention on Biological Diversity also arose then, whose Conference of the Parties also meets annually.

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Kyoto Protocol (1997)

Climate and greenhouse gas emissions were the main protagonists of this convention. The Kyoto Protocol (Japan) was an international agreement ratified by 192 countries and launched in 2005 by which the most industrialized states committed themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, with the aim of stopping climate change, a reality that was already well verified from a scientific point of view at that time. The United States was absent from this summit, which had a second part as an extension to achieve the objectives set. The Kyoto protocol was the one that created the ‘flexibility’ mechanisms to meet the reduction objectives, including some as controversial as the possibility for countries to trade in polluting emissions, financing environmental projects in other states in exchange for obtaining emission rights.

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Paris Summit (2015)

The 21st Conference of the Parties which was the Paris Summit represented the great ‘acceleration’ that the planet needed in view of the alarming climate situation and after the insufficient results of the Kyoto summit. 190 countries signed an agreement, legally binding (as in all previous cases) by which they undertake to do everything necessary so that the temperature increase at the end of the century on Earth does not exceed 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels (1850), and, if possible, stay below 1.5 ° C. Commitments were also made to offer assistance to developing countries to adapt to the consequences of climate change. The subject that has been pending for several COPs is Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which is the one that includes the possibility for countries to take advantage of an exchange of emission rights. Negotiations to regulate this carbon emissions buying and selling is one of the main challenges of the new Glasgow Conference of the Parties.

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