International Climate Change Processes

For over 20 years international leaders have been meeting to try and agree on a means to address the threats posed by climate change.  These meetings are mainly operated through the structures of the United Nations. The following sections describe the international agreements that have taken place on climate change.

2014 sees the release of Working Group 2 (impacts and Adaptation) and WG 3 (Mitigation) reports form the IPCCs Fifth Assessment report . Download the latest IPCC reports and information here. http://www.ipcc.ch/


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Logo for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by 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.  The Convention enjoys near universal membership, with 192 countries having ratified.

The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994. Under the Convention, governments:

  • gather 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 
  • cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change

Learn more about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Learn more about the Kyoto Protocol


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The IPCC is the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences.

2014 sees the release of Working Group 2 (impacts and Adaptation) and WG 3 (Mitigation) reports form the IPCCs Fifth Assessment report . Download the latest IPCC reports and information here.  http://www.ipcc.ch/

The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. Differing viewpoints existing within the scientific community are reflected in the IPCC reports.The assessment reports from the IPCC help to inform the international negotiations on climate change.


International climate change meetings and conferences

The intergovernmental negotiation process primarily encompasses the Conference of the Parties (COP), the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), Subsidiary Bodies meetings and a series of workshops.

The COP is the "supreme body" of the Convention. The CMP is the "supreme body" of the Kyoto Protocol. The Convention established two permanent subsidiary bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

COP 15 in Copenhagen during December 2009 aimed to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Whilst the conference was not as successful as many coutries had hoped it did result in the Copenhagen Accord. Many countries have signed up to this accord.

During 2010 there were further international meetings in Bonn, Germany in May and Tianjin in China in October. COP 16 took place in Mexico in December 2010 and resulted in the Cancun Agreements. Details on the Cancun Agreements can be found on the UNFCCC website.

2011 saw further international meetings in preperation for COP17 which took place in Durban, South Africa, from the 28th November to 9th December 2011. Further details are available on the COP17 website.

Overview of international climate change meetings and conferences

For an overview of the history and progress of climate talks, the International Institute for Sustainable Development Reporting Services* (IISD RS) provide bulletins during and after each meeting. 

Download the IISD RS Earth Negotiations Bulletin for Durban - COP17

Download the IISD RS Earth Negotiations Bulletin for Panama (October 2011)

Dowload the IISD RS Earth Negotiations Bulletin for Cancun - COP16

Download the IISD RS Earth Negotiations Bulletin for the 32nd Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Find out more about climate change

 

 

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