What is UNFCCC?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted and implemented by countries all around the world in 1994 to address the issue of climate change. The 197 countries that ratified the agreement represent almost universal global involvement. The UNFCCC states that its objectives are to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” and prevent human damage and interference with the climate system. 

Ratified in 1992, the UNFCCC is the first global treaty addressing climate change that created this organization. It meets yearly to discuss progress and take bold action. The Kyoto Protocol and more recent Paris Agreement are other landmark treaties that have emerged from these annual meetings. Emory has sent delegations to COP21 in Paris, France in 2015 and COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016.

Under the treaty, industrialized countries are expected to be in the forefront of reducing emissions. They also have agreed to provide financial support to developing countries to mitigate the impact of climate change. The Global Environment Facility oversees a systems of grants and loans to channel assistance to emerging economies.  

Industrialized countries also have to report regularly on their climate change policies and provide annual inventories of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Developing countries also are required to report their actions to address and adapt to climate change. The UNFCCC acknowledges that developing nations share of emissions is likely to grow, although it strives to help these countries contain emissions so as not to weaken their economies. In the initial years of the treaty, the organization emphasized mitigation of climate change rather than adaptation to establish with the climate change impact with more certainty. However recently, the UNFCCC has worked to support and fund adaptation policies.