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Rio to Copenhagen

india Updated: Oct 23, 2009 22:07 IST

Its been 19 years since all the countries in the world came together to take affirmative action to save the world from the ill effects of climate change caused due to relentless pollution. A look at two decades long journey to save the earth.

1. All the members of United Nations got together on June 3, 1992 to discuss efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It was called United Nation Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Its unofficial name became more popular - Earth Summit.

2. At the end of the summit all the member countries signed a treaty - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The objective of the treaty is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

3. UNFCC's first task was to set up a national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory to determine the amount of GHG per nation.

4. UNFCCC by itself does not put any conditions on the nations to bring down their GHG emissions (also known as carbon footprint). It issues updates (Also called protocols) and they set mandatory limits of emissions.

5. UNFCCC's members also known as parties have been meeting every year since 1995. They are referred to as Conference of Parties (COP).

6. The COP concluded in 1997 a protocol in Kyoto that set a legally binding mandatory cap on the carbon emissions on developed countries.

7. Kyoto protocol, as it is now famous, said that the emission levels have to be brought down by 5% from 1990 level. All the burden of this reduction was placed on the developed countries as they were accounting for 80% of the global carbon emission.

8. The Kyoto Protocol was further discussed and after working out all the modalities it was accepted in Marrakech, Morocco in 2001 and was sent to all the countries for acceptance.

9. By 2005 all the countries except USA and Australia accepted the Kyoto protocol.

10. The Kyoto protocol asks developed countries (Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America (40 countries and separately the European Union) to reduce their carbon footprint by employing new technology or helping other developing nations by financing their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions.

11. The Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

12. All the countries are meeting again to thrash out a new agreement to reduce carbon emission. Developed countries led by USA insist that Kyoto protocol is based on an old reality and now the developing countries too have a larger carbon footprint so they must agree on an emission cut.

13. Developing countries led by China and India insist that Kyoto protocol is the only framework they would work with. There is no question of a new framework where developing countries are made to cut their carbon emission as it would be counter productive for their economic growth.

14. USA maintains that China's carbon emission is as much as that of US and hence it is an equal culprit in global warming. While China says per capita US carbon emission is five times more than that of China and it would not stop before it reaches per capita parity with the US.

15. With these hardened positions COP is going to meet in Copenhagen on December 7, 2009 to work out a treaty for emission reduction mechanism after 2012.