The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ) was open to signature in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit and entered into force on 21 March 1994. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic 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 sustainable manner.

On 11 December 1997, the UNFCCC Parties adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force on 16 February 2005. On 12 December 2015, 196 UNFCCC Parties adopted the Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.

The Paris Agreement overarching goal is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. The Paris Agreement works on a five-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries. Since 2020, countries have been submitting their national climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Each successive NDC is meant to reflect an increasingly higher degree of ambition compared to the previous version.

The Secretariat cooperates, collaborates, and exchanges information with the UNFCCC Secretariat in accordance with decisions (BC-16/22, RC-11/9 and SC-11/21), on international cooperation and coordination with other organizations. In those decisions, the COPs recognized that actions taken under the conventions may contribute to achieving the UNFCCC’s objectives and requested the Secretariat to enhance its cooperation with the UNFCCC secretariat on issues of common interest.

Learn more about the interlinkages between wastes, chemicals and climate change.