Climate change timeline | HT Tech

Climate change timeline

Timeline on global warming for the December 3-14 Bali conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (IPCC).

| Updated on: Dec 03 2007, 16:29 IST

Timeline on global warming for the December 3-14 Bali conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (IPCC).

1827: French scientist Jean-Baptiste Fourier is the first to consider the 'greenhouse effect', the phenomenon whereby atmospheric gases trap solar energy, increasing Earth's surface temperature, rather than let the heat radiate back into space.

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1896: Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius blames the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) for producing carbon dioxide (CO2).

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1958: US scientist Charles David Keeling detects a yearly rise in atmospheric CO2.

1988: UN sets up a scientific authority to vet the evidence on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

1990: 1st IPCC report says levels of man-made greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere and predicts these will cause global warming.

1997: UNFCCC countries sign the Kyoto Protocol. Under its first commitment period, industrialised countries are required to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases to 5.2 per cent below their 1990 levels by the end of 2012. Fleshing out its complex and legally-binding rulebook is left to further negotiations.

2000: 1990s are named as the hottest decade on record.


-- The United States, the biggest greenhouse-gas polluter, abandons Kyoto Protocol. President George W. Bush questions scientific consensus on global warming, says treaty is too expensive for the US economy and unfair as big developing countries escape binding emissions pledges.

-- Kyoto signatories minus the US agree on the treaty's rulebook, opening the way to ratification process.


-- Kyoto Protocol takes effect on February 16.

-- Global warming takes centre stage at G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where it is described as 'a serious and long-term challenge.'

-- Awareness of global warming surges in US after an exceptional season for tropical storms, led by Hurricane Katrina.


-- Former US vice president Al Gore's docu-movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' drives global warming up US political agenda.

-- California unveils plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and files lawsuits against six vehicle manufacturers for their contribution to global warming.

-- Report by former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern says global warming will cost up to 20 per cent of worldwide gross domestic product if nothing is done.

-- Democrats regain control of US Congress, enabling them to propose legislation that will toughen US measures against greenhouse gases.


-- Landmark 4th Assessment Report by the IPCC delivers crippling blow to climate skeptics. It says the evidence for global warming is 'unequivocal' and the risk of hunger, homelessness and water-borne disease will amplify this century as a result of climate change. It forecasts likely warming of 1.8-4.0 C (3.2-7.2 F) by 2100 and a rise in sea levels of at least 18 centimetres (7.2 inches).

-- Climate change now dominates political agenda, dominating a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, a special summit at the UN in New York and a meeting of emitters in Washington. Bush acknowledges climate change and energy security to be 'two of the great challenges of our time.'

-- Two authoritative agencies (Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency and the International Energy Agency) respectively say China surpassed the US in 2006 as the world's No. 1 emitter or will surpass it in 2007.

-- Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to Gore and the IPCC.

-- Dec 3-14: Talks under the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia, on deepening cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions after 2012, when current commitments expire under the Kyoto Protocol.

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First Published Date: 03 Dec, 16:26 IST