COP 1 – Berlin

Took place from to 28 March to 7 April 1995 with a much younger Angela Merkel in the chair.  By then the scientists were clear that ‘returning to  1990 emissions levels by 2000’, the goal that had made it into the UNFCCC text [the EU had wanted targets and timetables for actual reductions – the US said nope] would not be enough to avoid dangerous climate change (article 2).


For ‘what is coming’ – see

Milburn, C. 1995. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Strife. The Age, 18 February, p19.

BERLIN is not going to be a happy destination for Australian officials visiting next month to discuss climate change. The city will host the world’s most important conference on the subject since the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and Australia will have to explain why it cannot meet international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade.

During the heady days of the Rio summit, the UN’s member nations acknowledged the need for concerted action to reduce the damage to the global environment. The Australian Government duly promised to stabilise Australia’s emission levels to 1990 levels by 2000.

But it now admits that it will miss its promised target set in the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, by pumping 654 million tonnes of gases into the air an increase of 7 per cent on 1990 levels….

Australia’s official position continues to support the 1990 emission freeze but its resolve appears to be wavering. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has asked a research arm of Government to prepare Cabinet proposals that could water down the international targets and prevent tougher measures being imposed at Berlin.

Mr Bill Hare, the climate policy director for Greenpeace International, is observing the New York negotiations. He says members of the Australian delegation in New York are already arguing behind the scenes that Australia has a special case for more lenient targets because its economy is heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

The ENB summary:

Australia’s position, action:

The US and especially Australia were very opposed to targets and timetables, but grudgingly went along.  There was an agreement (“The Berlin Mandate”) that a deal that involved rich countries only making cuts would be negotiated, and then agreed at the third COP, in 1997.

I have a bunch of documents about the Berlin Mandate – the post-Berlin discussions and workshops in Canberra, the AGBM meetings etc…

See also Jeremy Leggett’s The Carbon War – he managed to get insurance companies to send lobbyists, but they were only there for a day, whereas there were heaps of Global Climate Coalition lobbyists there for the entire period.

“Policy shifted under Keating, at the First Conference of Parties (COP1) to the UNFCCC in Berlin, in 1995, with Australia fighting targets, emphasizing costs, calling for differentiation, and no longer accepting developed nation responsibility. Australia’s “leader to laggard” shift was entrenched at the 1996 COP2 in Geneva by the newly elected Howard coalition government. Australia made a serious effort, with an attitude noted as
positively hostile, to derail the Kyoto process, questioning IPCC science, opposing legally binding targets and advocating differentiation for itself.47″
Crowley, K. 2007. Is Australia Faking It?
Macdonald 2005a, 225.
Macdonald, Matt. 2005a. Fair Weather Friend? Ethics and Australia’s Approach to Climate
Change. Australian Journal of Politics and History 51 (2): 216–234.

Macdonald, Matt. 2005a. Fair Weather Friend? Ethics and Australia’s Approach to Climate
Change. Australian Journal of Politics and History 51 (2): 216–234.


Following the UNFCCC’s adoption in 1992, developing countries, supported by the European Union (EU), had begun pushing for the international community to establish a stronger international agreement – this time including binding targets for developed countries.52 In March–April 1995, Parties to the UNFCCC held their first Conference of the Parties (COP 1). The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) urged Parties to adopt a protocol including a commitment by developed countries to reduce their CO2 emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2005 (the same target once endorsed by the Hawke government). Australia refused, however, to support the AOSIS proposal, in part because of this target.  While the Keating government agreed that the UNFCCC was too weak and needed strengthening, it argued against the inclusion of the word ‘reductions’ in conference deliberations, a position eventually relaxed in response to widespread criticism. Ultimately, the Keating government refused to support any future agreement setting targets and timetables to reduce GHG emissions

At COP 1, the Keating government also argued that while developed countries ought to shoulder the primary burden for emission reductions, developing countries also needed to play a greater role.57 In coalition with its JUSCANZ partners (Japan, US, Canada and New Zealand) Australia pushed for the major developing countries – Brazil, Korea, Malaysia and China – to also adopt mitigation commitments.58 Australia’s position was ultimately rejected by the COP at Berlin with the ‘Berlin Mandate’  (launching negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol) deciding that only developed countries would be required to strengthen their mitigation targets.

Cordes Holland PhD thesis, p.66.

Hare, B. and Kinrade, P. 1995. Cold Feet On Global Warming. The Age, 11 April, p.10. (Clippings)


Australians could have been forgiven for expecting their Government to seek a global solution to global warming in Berlin. Unfortunately, far from taking the lead in negotiations, Australia was one of a small group of countries instrumental in ensuring the Berlin summit did not produce a strong mandate for protection of the global atmosphere.

Yet Australia went to Berlin with two propositions that became big stumbling blocks to a mandate for further action. Australia did not want legally binding targets and timetables for emission reduction. It also wanted to link wealthy countries’ emission reductions to poorer developing countries’ emission limits. Australia must have known that linking a mandate agreement at the summit to emission limits for developing nations was against the spirit of the convention. The document specifically calls on industrialised countries to take the lead in cutting emissions because they are responsible for 75 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas. Australia must have known its position would be unacceptable to developing countries which legitimately argued that since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the industrialsied countries, particularly Australia, have not yet shown that they will cut their own emissions in line with existing commitments.

Australia’s defensive stance is based on confusing the interests of companies engaged in coal mining and resource processing with the national interest. The national interest is as much to do with ensuring the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy industries as it is with fossil fuels. It is also very much about actually showing leadership in the Asia-Pacific region.


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