Treaties

Articles on the major climate change treaties, beginning with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit (1992). We review the Kyoto Protocol (1997), its ill-fated successor the Doha Amendment, and its successor the Paris Climate Agreement (2015). We look at the key aspects of each treaty, the list of parties or signatories, and assess its likely effect on global warming. In addition, we profile the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s expert advisory panel on climate science, and its landmark Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. We also review arguably the most successful of all environmental or climate change treaties, the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987).

Planet Earth seen from the moon

UN Climate Talks & Timeline

We explain the history and timeline of climate talks and negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We describe the important COP conferences, the climate treaties and accords concluded, and the numerous agreements negotiated on all aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. We show how certain developed countries have blocked progress for years because of selfish economic motives and political lobbying from fossil fuel companies.

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Paris Climate Agreement: Key Points

The Paris Agreement is one of the most heavily supported climate treaties. What are its key points? How does it compare to the Kyoto Protocol? Will it spur nations to take effective climate action? Will it help us to begin to resolve our climate crisis? In short will it be seen as a success or a failure? We provide some answers.

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Ozone Hole: What it looks like today

The Montreal Protocol

We look at the background of the Montreal Protocol (the discovery of the ozone hole and the Rowland-Molina Hypothesis), as well as its timetable and health benefits. We also describe the various ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

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IPCC Conference

Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the main United Nations authority on climate science. We review its origins, functions and working groups. How does the IPCC prepare its Assessment Reports? What are its scientific views on our climate crisis? What do critics say about the IPCC? We explain all you need to know.

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Kyoto Protocol Climate Treaty: Key Points

The Kyoto Protocol was the first climate treaty to impose legally binding obligations for 37 developed countries to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHGs). But most of the world was not required to make cuts in emissions. This led to disillusionment among developed nations, and the Doha Amendment was not ratified in time.

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Information & Facts about Treaties

• The most successful environmental treaty in history is the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987). The treaty has since undergone five important revisions and is still going strong.
 
• In 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into being. It was here that world governments agreed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. 

• In 1997 at the Kyoto Protocol, all Parties came together to legally agree binding greenhouse gas emission obligations. The greenhouse gases named were: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and Sulphur hexafluoride.
 
• In 2010, in Cancun, the Parties agreed to limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Today, global warming is already more than 1°C.

• In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement Parties agree to limit warming to "well below 2°C" above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C.

• The planet is currently on course to exceed 3°C.

• UN climate conferences (known as COP - 'conference of the parties') take place every year. In December 2019, COP25 was originally to take place in Santiago, Chile. Up to 25,000 delegates were scheduled to attend. In the end it was switched to Madrid where 26,706 participants attended. Transporting this number of delegates by plane, train or car, emits a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions.