The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or “UNFCCC”, was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. It entered into force on 21 March 1994 and has been ratified by 196 States, which constitute the “Parties” to the Convention – its stakeholders.
This Framework Convention is a universal convention of principle, acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and giving industrialised countries the major part of responsibility for combating it.
The Conference of the Parties (COP), made up of all “States Parties”, is the Convention’s supreme decision-making body. It meets every year in a global session where decisions are made to meet goals for combating climate change. Decisions can only be made unanimously by the States Parties or by consensus.
France will be hosting and presiding the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015” from November 30th to December 11th. COP21 will be a crucial conference, as it needs to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. The conference will bringing together around 40,000 participants in total – delegates representing each country, observers, and civil society members. It is the largest diplomatic event ever hosted by France and one of the largest climate conferences ever organised.
The stakes are high: the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.
To achieve this, the future agreement must focus equally on mitigation – that is, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to below 2°C – and societies’ adaptation to existing climate changes. These efforts must take into account the needs and capacities of each country. The agreement will enter into force in 2020 and will need to be sustainable to enable long-term change.