The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 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".
The UNFCCC was opened for signature on 9 May 1992, after an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee produced the text of the Framework Convention as a report following its meeting in New York from 30 April to 9 May 1992. It entered into force on 21 March 1994. As of May 2011, UNFCCC has 195 parties. The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The 2010 Cancun agreements state that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level.
One of the first tasks set by the UNFCCC was for signatory nations to establish national greenhouse gas inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals, which were used to create the 1990 benchmark levels for accession of Annex I countries to the Kyoto Protocol and for the commitment of those countries to GHG reductions. Updated inventories must be regularly submitted by Annex I countries.
The UNFCCC is also the name of the UN Secretariat charged with supporting the operation of the Convention, with offices in Bonn, Germany. From 17 May 2010 the head of the secretariat is Ms. Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica. 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.
Short history of the UNFCCC
2012 - The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol is adopted by the CMP at CMP8.
2011 — The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action drafted and accepted by the COP, at COP17
2010 — Cancun Agreements drafted and largely accepted by the COP, at COP16.
2009 — Copenhagen Accord drafted at COP15 in Copenhagen. This was taken note of by the COP. Countries later submitted emissions reductions pledges or mitigation action pledges, all non-binding.
2007 — IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report released. Climate science entered into popular consciousness. At COP13, Parties agreed on the Bali Road Map, which charted the way towards a post-2012 outcome in two work streams: the AWG-KP, and another under the Convention, known as the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action Under the Convention.
2005 — Entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. The first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP 1) takes place in Montreal. In accordance with Kyoto Protocol requirements, Parties launched negotiations on the next phase of the KP under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).
2001 — Release of IPCC's Third Assessment Report. Bonn Agreements adopted, based on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action of 1998. Marrakesh Accords adopted at COP7, detailing rules for implementation of Kyoto Protocol, setting up new funding and planning instruments for adaptation, and establishing a technology transfer framework.
1997 — Kyoto Protocol formally adopted in December at COP3. More about the Kyoto Protocol.
1996 — The UNFCCC Secretariat is set up to support action under the Convention.
1995 — The first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) takes place in Berlin.
1994 — UNFCCC enters into force. An introduction to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
1992 — The INC adopts UNFCCC text. At the Earth Summit in Rio, the UNFCCC is opened for signature along with its sister Rio Conventions, UNCBD and UNCCD. More about the two other Rio Conventions: UNCBD and UNCCD.
1991 — First meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) takes place.
1990 — IPCC's first assessment report released. IPCC and second World Climate Conference call for a global treaty on climate change. United Nations General Assembly negotiations on a framework convention begin.
1988 — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set up.
1979 — The first World Climate Conference (WCC) takes place.