The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties. The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation.
The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realized and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created. In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, has, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. Climate change matters for the survival and development of all human life. It is urgent to take action to curtail the causes of global warming. The Paris Agreement reaffirms the ambitious goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. To keep the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees in sight, global greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 55 percent by 2030 and net emissions have to fall to zero by 2050, according to the United Nations. Recent climate talks in Madrid ended with a partial agreement to ask countries to come up with more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the existing terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement.