United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) considers what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with inevitable temperature increases. A number of nations have approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful and legally binding measures. The UNFCCC Secretariat supports the institutions involved in the climate change process, particularly the Convention of the Parties (COP), the subsidiary bodies and their Bureau.


The Convention on Climate Change sets an framework for intergovernmental efforts to respond to climate change. It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 195 countries have ratified the Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994.

Under the Convention, governments, collect and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices; launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries; and cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

Kyoto Protocol

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol shares the Convention’s objective, principles and institutions, but strengthens the Convention by committing Annex I Parties to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and provides economic and market mechanisms to assist in those reductions. Only Parties to the Convention that have also become Parties to the Protocol (i.e by ratifying, accepting, approving, or acceding to it) are bound by the Protocol’s commitments. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 , ratified by 171 countries; it entered into force on 16 February 2005.

35 countries and the European Economic Community (EEC) are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below levels specified for each of them in the treaty. The individual targets for Annex I Parties are listed in the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B. These add up to a total cut in greenhouse-gas emissions of at least 5% from 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012.

The complexity of the negotiations meant there was unfinished matters even after the Kyoto Protocol itself was adopted. The Protocol provided the basic structures of its mechanisms and compliance system, but did not explain how the rules would operate. Although 84 countries signed the Protocol, indicating that they intended to ratify, many were reluctant to ratify and bring the Protocol into force before having a clearer picture of the treaty’s rulebook.

Further Negotiations for the post-2012 period

Bali Conference 2007

The United Nations Climate Change Conference - Bali, 3 - 14 December 2007 was hosted by the Government of Indonesia, bringing together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media. At this conference the Bali Road Map was established.

Cancun 2010

The next steps to address the long-term challenge of climate change collectively and comprehensively were taken at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. The Cancun Agreements' main objectives cover the topics mitigation, transparency of actions, technology, finance, adaptation,forests and capacity building.

Doha 2012

At its 8th session, in Doha, Qatar, in December 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Doha Amendment aims to facilitate implementation of the Protocol after the first commitment period and includes quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments for the second commitment period for a number of Annex I Parties


Website for the UNFCC

The main author of this article is Magdalena Muir
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Magdalena Muir (2020): United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Available from http://www.coastalwiki.org/wiki/United_Nations_Framework_Convention_on_Climate_Change [accessed on 15-06-2024]