UN climate talks Frustrations build as emissions rise

The very first UN climate talks, COP1, took place in Berlin in 1995. Friends of the Earth was 26 years old and climate activists had been demanding action for decades. 

Despite high hopes, COP1 and those that followed  became seen as talking shops instead of forums for climate action. Frustrations built as emissions rose. But so did the environmental movement.

In 2005, the first global day of action for the climate took place, with thousands taking to the streets and demonstrating. 

At COP19 in Warsaw in 2013, Friends of the Earth walked out of the talks wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Volveremos’’ (“we’ll be back” in Spanish), alongside groups who represented millions of people worldwide demanding climate justice.

At the talks in Paris in 2015, 195 countries signed a landmark agreement with the lofty goal to reduce emissions and aim to limit global heating  to “well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. 

Photograph: Paris © Amelia Collins/Friends of the Earth

Although previous climate talks have been frustratingly slow, they are one of the only spaces where countries in the Global South who are already facing severe climate impacts (like those in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and parts of Asia) can participate on an equal footing with industrialised places like the US, the UK, Japan and Europe.

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