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The International Agreements on Climate Change
- The United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) (adopted, 1992, entered into force, 1994)
i. Stabilization of greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere: The ultimate
objective of the Climate Change Convention is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic
(man-made) interference with the climate system. 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
ii. Precautionary principle: The Convention sets out some guiding principles.
precautionary principle says that the lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as an
excuse to postpone action when there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage. The
principle of the common but differentiated responsibilities of States assigns the lead in
combating climate change to developed countries. Other principles deal with the special
needs for developing countries and the importance of promoting sustainable
iii. Development and submission of national communications: Both developed
developing countries accept a number of general commitments. All parties will develop and
submit "national communications" containing inventories of greenhouse gas emissions by
source and removals by sinks. They will adopt national programs for mitigating climate
change and develop strategies for adapting to its impacts. They will also promote technology
transfer and the sustainable management, conservation, and enhancement of greenhouse gas
sinks and reservoirs.
iv. Take into account relevant social, economic, and environmental policies:
Additionally, the Parties will take climate change into account in their relevant social,
economic and environmental policies; cooperate in scientific, technical and educational
matters; and promote education, public awareness, and the exchange of information related
to climate change.
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- The Kyoto Protocol (adopted, 1997; not yet entered into force)
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i. Emission reduction targets: The Kyoto Protocol commits Annex I Parties to the UNFCCC to legally binding targets to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the period 2008 to 2012. Although the targets average a 5% reduction from 1990 levels, the targets are set individually and range from a reduction in 8% for EU member countries to an increase in 10% for Iceland.
ii. Buenos Aires Plan of Action and the Bonn Agreements: As a follow-up to the Protocol, Parties at COP 4 adopted a work programme covering unfinished business at Kyoto and general implementation issues of the Convention. This resulted at the second session of COP 6 in political consensus on the so-called "Bonn Agreements," which included the creation of a special climate fund, a least developed country (LDC) fund, and an adaptation fund. The "Bonn Agreements" also included consensus to establish a technology transfer expert group, obligations for Annex I countries to report on their commitments, agreement on the eligibility of projects under the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, consensus on land use, land use change and forestry, and agreement on the institutional structure of the compliance system.