Timeline of Global Climate Action

Timeline of Global Climate Action

Global warming increasingly dominates the discussions of international conventions and "eco-minded" citizens of all countries continue to do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint. From the introduction of the environment as a UN problem in 1968 to efforts at reaching a post-Kyoto settlement, read on for a brief timeline of international action for environmental protection.  Please add to the conversation and suggest other important events by using the "discuss" feature below.


1968, July 30
Resolution 1346 (XLV) recommends that the General Assembly consider a conference on environmental problems.

1972, June 5-16
Stockholm United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which establishes the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), committed to establishing environmentally sensitive policies in developing states.

1983, December 19
Resolution 38/161 establishes a commission to study environmental problems until “2000 and beyond”.

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) submits “Brundtland report”* on sustainable development to General Assembly.

1987, September 16
Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer opened for signature to reduce the elimination of certain halogenated hydrogens which are damaging to the ozone layer. Has been revised 7 times and been ratified by 196 states including Japan (1988) and the United States (1990).

1989, March 22:
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal opened for signature. Has been signed but not ratified by the United States.

1992, June 3-14
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) aka the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit opens the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for signature. Also forms the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), which continues to convene annual meetings**, and Agenda 21 while specifically addressed environmental issues such as the scarcity of water and alternative energy.

1997, December 11
Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC opened for signature at the third conference of the UNCCC (COP 3), setting 37 industrialized countries (not including the United States) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2002, August 26-September 4
World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD or Earth Summit 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa affirms implementation of Agenda 21, a plan for promoting sustainable development at the international and local levels.

2007, December 3-15
2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 13) in Bali, Indonesia adapts the Bali Action Plan (Decision 1/CP.13), a post-Kyoto blueprint for future negotiations concerning the reduction of emissions.

*Please reference the United Nations Documentation Research Guide for copies of all documents mentioned in this timeline.

**Read and watch expert commentary about COP 15 Copenhagen