What the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was able to accomplish in 2015 was really over 20 years in the making. The IPCC was established in 1989, and delivered their first report to the UN in 1990 about the consequences burning fossil fuels and adding excess greenhouse gases to our atmosphere. What is especially troubling is the fact that world leaders were warned of this issue 27 years ago, but because of the financial influence of the fossil fuel industry on politics, there has been little regulation on green house gases during this time.
In November of 2015 Nature published a very descriptive and engaging look at the delicate nature of enforcing a global policy on greenhouse gases and protecting the atmosphere. This graphic novel inspired comic titled the "Fragile Framework" explains how scientists have known about the phenomenon of climate change for well over 100 years.
First was the discovery by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius calculated the effects carbon dioxide could have on changing the temperature of the atmosphere.
In 1958, Bell Labs produced an episode of their program Bell Telephone Science Hour which highlighted the consequences of climate change and how society should develop new technology to deal with the anticipated threat.
Through some investigative reporting it has been shown that in 1977 Exxon Mobil was aware of the dangers of climate change, but spent millions of dollars to cover up any concerns over harming the environment. All to protect the short term profits of very few, while jeopardizing the safety of billions around the globe.
The IPCC and UN convened in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 to address the concerns of carbon dioxide emissions from major corporations and countries, and even floated the idea of instituting a carbon tax. Because of heavy pressure from the fossil fuel industry on US politicians, the US never ratified the treaty. Any global efforts towards stemming the flow of green house gasses into the atmosphere has languished ever since.