Infographic: timeline of climate change negotiations

Check out our infographic containing a timeline listing milestones and key initiatives in the global fight against climate change.

From the Earth Summit to the latest UN climate conference, discover the most important events in the history of climate change negotiations in reverse chronological order.

The EU has been a key player in the fight against climate change. In 2021, the EU made a legally binding commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2050, while setting a target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Since then, it has updated many energy and environment-related rules to achieve those targets, under a package known as Fit for 55.

In the context of the Russian war in Ukraine, the EU has been working to reduce its energy dependence on non-EU countries and has adopted rules to boost the deployment of renewable sources of energy.

Interactive timeline : A guide to climate change negotiations


  1.  COP28 makes progress on fossil fuels

    ( 30 November - 12 December 2023 )

    The COP28 climate change conference, held in Dubai, approves a roadmap for a transition away from fossil fuels. Negotiators at COP28 also agree on commitments to triple renewables capacity and double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. In addition, they make progress in relation to climate change adaptation measures and finance.

  2.  COP27 takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh

    ( 6-20 November 2022 )

    Countries agreed to create a loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters. However, despite slow progress on phasing out fossil fuels and moving towards the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius limit, no new measures were agreed.

  3.  COP26 takes place in Glasgow

    ( 1-13 November 2021 )

    During the COP26, countries agreed to the goal of climate neutrality; increased funding for vulnerable developing countries; and less money for new fossil fuel projects. They did not reach a common response to phasing out the use of coal.

  4.  European Climate Law enters into force

    ( 29 July 2021 )

    The EU's first climate law makes reaching climate neutrality by 2050 law. It also aims to achieve negative emissions after 2050 and sets an intermediary climate target of a reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030.

  5.  US rejoins the Paris Agreement

    ( 19 February 2021 )

    Shortly after Joe Biden is sworn in as US President, the US becomes again a party to the Paris Agreement.

  6.  European Climate Law: Parliament adopts its position

    ( 7 October 2020 )

    The European Parliament approves its negotiating position on the Climate Law proposing that the EU and all member states reach climate neutrality by 2050. It also sets a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target of 60%.

  7.  EU to become climate neutral by 2050

    ( 12 December 2019 )

    EU leaders agree to make the EU climate neutral by 2050 during a European Council meeting in Brussels.

  8.  The Green Deal

    ( 11 December 2019 )

    The European Commission presents the Green Deal. Using the European Climate Law, it aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

  9.  COP25 takes place in Madrid

    ( 2-13 December 2019 )

    COP25 concludes with an agreement on increased carbon cutting, but disappoints as decisions on a global carbon trading system, clarity on concrete emission cuts and a system to channel new funding to the most vulnerable countries are postponed to the next COP in Glasgow.

  10.  European Parliament declares climate emergency

    ( 28 November 2019 )

    The European Parliament declares a climate emergency in Europe and globally. They want the Commission to ensure that all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals are fully aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to less than 1.5°C.

  11.  COP24 takes place in Katowice

    ( 3-14 December 2018 )

    COP24 in Poland ends with mixed results. Countries agree on a deal putting the Paris Agreement into practice – but leave core issues about a global carbon trading system and how to respond to warnings of a temperature rise beyond 1.5°C unresolved.

  12.  UN IPCC releases its 1.5° special report

    ( October 2018 )

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a report investigating the impact of a 1.5°C rise in temperature (above pre-industrial levels). It concludes that emissions will have to be reduced more than scientists originally estimated.

  13.  COP23 takes place in Bonn

    ( 6-17 November 2017 )

    COP23 makes significant progress toward clear and comprehensive implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement, which will make the agreement operational.

  14.  President Donald Trump announces his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement

    ( June 2017 )
  15.  COP22 takes place in Marrakesh

    ( 7-18 November 2016 )

    Parties pledge to move forward on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and welcome the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide”.

  16.  Paris Agreement enters into force

    ( 4 November 2016 )
  17.  In a historic vote Parliament gives its consent to the EU’s ratification of the Paris Agreement

    ( 4 October 2016 )

    Thanks to the Parliament's consent, the Paris Agreement can enter into force in November 2016, having met the necessary conditions much earlier than predicted.

  18.  Paris Agreement is adopted

    ( December 2015 )

    The Paris Agreement on fighting climate change is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The objective of the agreement is to maintain the increase in global temperatures well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, whilst making efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. The agreement aims to ensure global greenhouse gas emissions peak as soon as possible, and to balance emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. Furthermore, the agreement addresses the adaptation to climate change, financial and other support for developing countries, technology transfer and capacity building, as well as losses and damage.

  19.  The IPCC’s fifth assessment report is released

    ( 2014 )

    The report provides an overview of the state of knowledge concerning the science of climate change, emphasizing new results since the publication of the previous AR4 report. The report refers to the “clear and growing” human influence on the climate, warning that if left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impact on people and ecosystems.

  20.  COP20 takes place in Lima

    ( December 2014 )

    COP20 requires all countries to describe their intended contributions for the 2015 agreement clearly, transparently and understandably.

  21.  COP19 in Warsaw

    ( November 2013 )

    Parties agree a timeplan for countries to table their intended contributions for the new global climate agreement and for ways to accelerate efforts before 2020. They set up a mechanism to address losses and damage caused by climate change in vulnerable developing countries. The also enhance the implementation of measures already agreed (for instance on climate finance) and transparency of reporting on emissions.

  22.  COP18 takes place in Doha

    ( 2012 )

    Governments agree to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement by 2015 and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond existing pledges to curb emissions. They also adopt the Doha Amendment to the Koyoto Protocol, adding new emission reduction targets for participating countries for 2012-2020.

  23.  COP17 takes place in Durban

    ( 2011 )

    In Durban, governments clearly commit to a new universal climate change agreement by 2015 for the period beyond 2020, where all will play their part to the best of their ability and all will be able to reap the benefits together.

  24.  The Cancun Agreements are adopted

    ( 2010 )

    The Cancun Agreements is a comprehensive package adopted by governments to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change. The Green Climate Fund is established.

  25.  The IPCC’s fourth assessment report is released

    ( 2007 )

    The report represents the largest and most detailed summary of the climate change situation ever undertaken, created with the help of a large number of contributors, both scientists and governmental representatives. The headline findings of the report were: "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

  26.  The Kyoto Protocol enters into force

    ( February 2005 )
  27.  The EU's Emissions Trading System is launched

    ( January 2005 )

    The European Union Emissions Trading System, the world's first and largest emissions trading scheme, is launched as a major pillar of EU climate policy.

  28.  The Marrakesh Accords

    ( November 2001 )

    The Marrakesh Accords are adopted at COP7, detailing the rules for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, setting up new funding and planning instruments for adaptation, and establishing a technology transfer framework to support developing countries in addressing climate change

  29.  President George W. Bush removes the US from the Kyoto process

    ( 11 June 2001 )

    President George W. Bush removes the US from the Kyoto process, arguing that it puts more of the burden for reducing emissions on industrialised nations instead of developing ones

  30.  The Kyoto Protocol is adopted

    ( 1997 )

    The Kyoto Protocol is the world's first greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty. The Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets - an average of 5% by the period 2008-2012 with wide variations on targets for individual countries.

  31.  COP1 takes place in Berlin

    ( 1995 )

    Parties agree that commitments in the Convention are "inadequate" for meeting Convention objectives. They establish a process for negotiating stronger commitments for developed countries, thus laying the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol.

  32.  The UNFCCC enters into force

    ( 1994 )
  33.  Earth Summit in Rio

    ( 1992 )

    Governments are invited to sign the Convention on Climate Change at the Earth Summit in Rio.

  34.  Convention on Climate Change is adopted

    ( May 1992 )

    The text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This is the key international treaty to reduce global warming and help cope with the consequences of climate change. For the first time binding gas emissions reduction targets are set for industrialised countries.

  35.  First meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee takes place

    ( 1991 )
  36.  The IPCC produces its first assessment report

    ( 1990 )

    In its first assessment report the IPCC concludes that humanity's emissions are adding to the atmosphere's natural component of greenhosue gases. It underlines the importance of climate change as a challenge requiring international cooperation to tackle its consequences. The report therefore plays a decisive role in paving the way for the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  37.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set up

    ( 1988 )

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, providing the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge regarding climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

  38.  The Montreal Protocol is adopted

    ( 1987 )

    The protocol restricts the use of chemicals that can damage the ozone layer

  39.  World Climate Conference takes place in Geneva 1979

    ( 1979 )

    This is one of the first major international meetings on climate change. Essentially a scientific conference, it is attended by scientists from a wide range of disciplines. It leads to the establishment of the World Climate Programme.

  40.  United Nations Conference on the Human Environment takes place

    ( 1972 )

    This is the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues and marks a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.

The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) is illuminated with the lettering reading 'The Paris accord is done' in Paris on November 4, 2016, to celebrate the first day of the application of the Paris COP21 climate accord.
The Eiffel Tower is illuminated with the lettering reading 'The Paris accord is done' in Paris on 4 November 2016