The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
The UNFCCC is one of the two treaties which were opened for signature at the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), the other being the Convention on Biological Diversity. Parties joined the UNFCCC treaty to co-operatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.
The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 196 countries that have ratified the UNFCCC are called Parties to the Convention.
The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere ‘at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system’. It states that:
‘…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’
The UNFCCC is cited as remarkable for its time in recognising that there was a problem and by binding member states to act in the interests of human safety even in
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