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    Review of 'A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiations'

    A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiationsCrossref
    Useful guidance to understand mechanisms which are driving the COPs
    Average rating:
        Rated 3.5 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 2 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 4 of 5.
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    A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiations

    The last 30 years have been a period of intense and continuous international negotiation to deal with climate change. During the same 30 years, humanity has doubled the amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There has, however, been progress and some notable successes. In 2015 at COP21, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement stating that they would limit global temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and would pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This was followed up at COP26 in Glasgow with many countries pledging to go net zero emissions by the middle of the century. But currently these pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global average temperature to 2.4˚C to 2.8˚C. This article reviews the history of international climate change negotiations and examines what the key objectives are for future COP meetings.

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      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Earth & Environmental sciences
      COP26,COP27,Paris Agreement,net zero,Policy and law,Climate,UNFCCC,Sustainable development,climate emergency,negotiations,climate change,Kyoto Protocol,environmental social movements,The Environment

      Review text

      Review of Article: A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiations, by Mark Maslin and John Lang

      General assessment:

      It is very laudable that ahead of COP27 there is a useful publication on the key outcomes of COPs in the past which gives guidance on what will be important in upcoming negotiations. It is easy reading, links climate activities with political news then, and its headlines and the figures are visually catching. I found it novel to also include an assessment the role of global environmental social movements which have given the COPs indeed some new impulses.

      It is also good to address the influence of the Russian war in Europe against the Ukraine. This together with the youth movements gives the climate narrative a new spin.

      However, I suggest for making it even more useful it should give a more complete picture of the history of COPs and its outcomes, and the figures could be edited in adding some more details and explanations.


      The abstract suggests that this is a rather holistic review of the past 30 years of climate change negotiations and their key objectives, but in the following elaborations the authors focus only on some key COPs. True that not every COP had the same importance, but the title suggests differently. 

      The introduction would deserve the full picture of climate history which has been described in an excellent and complete manner by John W. Zillman, in “WMO Bulletin, Vol. 58(3), July 2009, A history of climate activities” https://public.wmo.int/en/bulletin/history-climate-activities .  It is key to understand the path of activities which led to the founding of the UNFCCC and the various elements and programmes which until today have an impact on the COPs.

      Reference to Figure 1 about IPCC “was set up in 1988 and produced its very first science report on 1990”: This figure does not show when the IPCC was set-up.

      Missing more detailed analyses of COPs between “COP 3” and “COP15”: I am missing e.g. COP 12 in Nairobi 2006, which established the Nairobi work programme and emphasized the need for adaptation to climate change.

      The outcomes of COPs between COP3 and COP15 are only brushed over and do not do them justice.

      I would also suggest including some notion about the global stocktake, GST, of the Paris Agreement as aim to assess progress towards achieving the purpose of the agreement and its long-term goals. This is mechanism is causing until today some political turmoil.

      I am missing also touching on discussions and findings on “Loss and damage” and on “Research and Observation” in the past COPs in the sections before.

      I am challenging the labeling of the Green Climate Fund as a “political breakthrough”. There have been many other mechanisms with similar mandate and objectives, which would deserve mentioning as well.

      Reference to Figure 2, “:. Ratcheting up mitigation ambition”: Figure needs better explanation.

      Reference to Figure 4: The text of section on COP27 does not match the content in Figure 4. I would expect that the graphics is textually fully explained in the section on COP27.

      Figure 5: source ?

      Conclusions: It is not a typical conclusion of a science paper, but rather a final word. 



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