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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Rio - 1992)

The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The three are intrinsically linked. It is in this context that the Joint Liaison Group was set up to boost cooperation among the three Conventions, with the ultimate aim of developing synergies in their activities on issues of mutual concern. It now also incorporates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 195 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention.

The Convention:

Recognized that there was a problem.

  • This was remarkable for its time. When the UNFCCC took effect, there was less scientific evidence than there is now. The UNFCCC borrowed a very important line from one of the most successful multilateral environmental treaties in history (the Montreal Protocol, in 1987): it bound member states to act in the interests of human safety even in the face of scientific uncertainty.                                 

Sets a lofty but specific goal.

  • The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system." It states that "such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner."

Puts the onus on developed countries to lead the way.

  • The idea is that, as they are the source of most past and current greenhouse gas emissions, industrialized countries are expected to do the most to cut emissions on home ground. They are called Annex I countries and belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).                         

Directs new funds to climate change activities in developing countries.

  • Industrialized nations agree under the Convention to support climate change activities in developing countries by providing financial support for action on climate change-- above and beyond any financial assistance they already provide to these countries.

Charts the beginnings of a path to strike a delicate balance.

  • Economic development is particularly vital to the world's poorer countries. Such progress is difficult to achieve even without the complications added by climate change. The Convention takes this into consideration by accepting that the share of greenhouse gas emissions produced by developing nations will grow in the coming years.

Kicks off formal consideration of adaptation to climate change.

  • The Convention acknowledges the vulnerability of all countries to the effects of climate change and calls for special efforts to ease the consequences, especially in developing countries which lack the resources to do so on their own. In the early years of the Convention, adaptation received less attention than mitigation, as Parties wanted more certainty on impacts of and vulnerability to climate change.

This presentation was taken from the UNFCCC Website

You can find more information,a nd the convention on other languages, on: 

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Document uploaded by

Florent Martin
30 April 2015

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