United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. The objective of the treaty is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.[1]

The UNFCCC is also the name of the United Nations Secretariat charged with supporting the operation of the Convention. The Secretariat, augmented through the parallel efforts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aims to gain consensus through meetings and the discussion of various strategies. As of May 17, 2010 the Secretariat is Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica.[2]

1992 UNCED Treaty

One of its first tasks of the UNFCCC was to establish national greenhouse gas inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals, which were used to create the 1990 benchmark levels for the commitment of industrialized countries, called Annex 1 Parties, to GHG reductions. Updated inventories must be regularly submitted by Annex I countries.[3]

The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development treaty set no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. In that sense, the treaty is considered legally non-binding. Instead, the treaty provides for updates (called "protocols") that would set mandatory emission limits. The UNFCCC was opened for signature on May 9, 1992, after an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee produced the text of the Framework Convention as a report following its meeting in New York from April 30 to May 9, 1992. It entered into force on March 21, 1994. As of December 2009, UNFCCC had 192 parties.[3]

1997 Kyoto Protocol

The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The principal update was the Kyoto Protocol, which has become better known than the UNFCCC itself. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The key mechanisms established were emissions trading, the clean development mechanism (CDM), and joint implementation.[4]

COP15 and COP16

COP15 conference was "the fifteenth Conference of the Parties under the United Nations’ Climate Change Convention. The conference took place from 30 November to 11 December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark." [1] "It is expected that ministers and officials from 189 countries will take part. In addition, there will be participants from a large number of organizations." [2] The next meeting, COP16, will take place in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November-10 December 2010. [3]

Contact Details

Key Groupings Involved in the Negotiations

Forthcoming Negotiating Meetings on the UNFCCC

Articles and Resources


  1. Article 2. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Retrieved on November 15, 2005.
  2. "Executive Secretary" UNFCCC Website, accessed October 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 What is the UNFCCC & the COP. Climate Leaders. Lead India (2009). Retrieved on October 13, 2010.
  4. "Kyoto Protocol" UNFCCC Website, accessed October 2010.

SourceWatch Resources

Criticism of the Treaty

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