UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Structure and Agreements

The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, and was established to stabilise greenhouse-gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate. The Convention now has 165 ratified signatories, with 174 parties to the Convention in total as of May 1998.

At the Convention's first Conference of the Parties (COP) in ‘95, the Berlin Mandate was adopted. The agreement emphasised the inadequacy of the commitment taken by developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2002 in achieving the objectives of the Convention. As a result the mandate provided momentum and strengthened the commitments of the developed-country parties after the year 2000.

COP-2, ‘96, was the next opportunity to push forward the agenda. Ministers gave political impetus to the Berlin Mandate through agreements laid out in the Geneva Ministerial Declaration. The Declaration provided the space and opportunity for negotiations on the text of a legally binding protocol. The remit of any such text was that it should include quantified legally binding objectives for emissions limitations and significant overall reductions within specified time frames.

A draft text of an instrument was circulated in June ‘97 as the precursor to COP-3 in Kyoto. This formed the basis to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, which provided for an overall global average reduction of 5.2% of the emissions of the 6 prescribed GHG’s from 1990 levels by the period of 2008-2012. In addition COP-3 also made provisions for the transfer of technology from North to South, specifically through information dissemination and technology adaptation.

Obligations and follow up

Parties to the Convention are required to: 

make available to the COP national inventories of emissions 
to formulate, implement and publish national and regional programmes containing those measures to mitigate climate change 
to promote and co-operate in the development, application and diffusion of technologies, practices and processes that control, reduce or prevent GHG emissions 
to promote sustainable management 
to co-operate in scientific, technical and socio-economic systematic and development of data relating to climate change.

Review Process

The COP is responsible for periodically examining the obligations of the parties in ensuring implementation of the Convention. Including assessing the levels of implementation and the measures taken by the parties.

For further information on the Convention refer to:


For information on the status and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol refer to:



Earth Summit 2002 / Partners / Acronyms / Staff / Issues

UN Conventions Focus / Global Agencies / UN Conference Focus

Site Map / Major Group Organisations / UN Commissions Focus/ Regional Agencies


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