There has been incidents in the past which made a couple of climate summits a huge fail in world history. However, the mistakes which were once made are not repeated; knowing the reality about the impacts of climate change, the international community is doing its part to ‘curb’ climate change.

But just a quick thought-wouldn’t it be great if the international community had stepped up in battle against climate change years ago? Here are some points about history’s most remembered; failed earth summits.

The first Earth Summit which was held in 1972 at Stockholm, Sweden , adapted a declaration setting out principles for the preservation of the environment and a plan that contained recommendations for the international community to take environmental actions, did not have a satisfactory outcome. Its provisions were very flexible and broad. Since the declaration was more of a passive document, it did not provide any mechanisms to control pollution or greenhouse emissions (the causes of climate change) and was legally non-binding.

However, it was seen as the beginning of an international environment law specifically concerning the land based sources of marine pollution (LBSMP) since it represented a strong sense of dedication by states to establish ground rules of international environmental law.

On the verge of fighting against global warming, Kyoto Protocol was created in the UNFCCC, in order to control greenhouse gases that are concentrated in the atmosphere and to prevent dangerous anthropological interference with climate system. The convention was opened for ratification at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

The Kyoto Protocol’s mission was to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, including methane gas and carbon monoxide. The Kyoto protocol set up a system which created ‘carbon credits’ units of carbon dioxide production that are measurable and could be traded. The Carbon Credit system makes it costly to pollute and was supposed to motivate countries and industries to regulate and monitor the production of carbon dioxide. Despite the many benefits of the Kyoto Protocol of which the most evident one is curbing of greenhouse gases, it failed; the United States of America (then the world’s largest carbon emitter) and Australia did not ratify this treaty and had condoned to the reckless pollution of the environment.

Moreover, developing worlds such as China ‘stayed’ outside of Kyoto’s regime; it also created loopholes where parties could fulfill their targets through exploitation. It was also seen that many economists dubious of the existence of climate change have claimed that Kyoto Protocol is a system to shift huge amount of money to the third world from the first world and is in fact a global social initiative. In addition, several countries believe that the protocol does not go far enough in order to stop global warming.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) held during 7-18 December in 2009 in an attempt to construct a post-Kyoto Protocol climate change framework, also known as the Copenhagen Summit, failed to create any new legally binding obligations on any country to decrease its emissions. The key outcomes of it was to prevent rise in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius; developed countries to provide aid to developing countries (around $30 million) in order to act against climate change and developed countries to provide reports of their emissions.

However, the conference was seen as a failure since it had many weaknesses such as, it did not create any new legally binding obligations on any country to reduce their CO2 emissions. It did not establish any non-legal targets for reduction of the global emissions.

It could be said that in the past Earth Summits as well as the Copenhagen Conference,  everyone just talked on what could be done, how it could be done and all that, but no one actually listened.


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