United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, or Paris Agreement) is an international environmental treaty which came into force on 19 March 1994. It was one key outcome of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Its aim it to stabilise the global levels of greenhouse gases that may cause deleterious anthropogenic changes to the Earth’s climate systems.

The initial protocol set non-binding limits on the levels of greenhouse gases released by signatory countries and had no enforcement mechanisms. At subsequent meetings, since 1995, parties to the Convention have strengthened its provisions. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was agreed. This set legally binding reduction targets for greenhouse gases for signatory countries over the period 2008-2012.

The 2010 conference in Cancùn agreed that a limit of no greater than a 2 degrees Celsius rise in the Earth’s global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should be the aim of signatories to the Convention, with a further target of limiting the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Accord came in to force on 20 November 2016. It set targets from 2020 onwards. Not all parties to the original agreement have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, China and India and the United States of America being the most prominent ones which have not. Sadly, in June 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Accord entirely.

The United Kingdom, as part of its obligations under the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCC), must provide annual reports of greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, for which it has signed and ratified, so that the UK’s ratification has been extended to them. These include: Guernsey and the Isle of Man, since 4 April 2005; Gibraltar, since 2 January 2007; Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, and Jersey, since 7 March 2007. They do this via the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

In 2016, a submission was made to the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee Inquiry into Leaving the EU: negotiation priorities for energy and climate change policy in order to ensure that the UKOT and CDs were not overlooked. Read the UKOTCF written evidence here.

Some useful links include: 

1. UK Government report Climate change in the UKOTs 

2. IUCN report Climate Change and Biodiversity in the European Union Overseas Entities