The United Nations family is at the forefront of efforts to save our planet. In 1992, through the Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was produced as a first step in addressing the problem of climate change. Today, this convention enjoys near-universal membership, and 197 countries have ratified the convention and are party to it. The ultimate goal of the agreement is to prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.
By 1995, countries began negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and two years later, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. Legally, the Kyoto Protocol binds developed country parties to emissions reduction targets. The first commitment period of the Protocol began in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began on January 1, 2013 and will end in 2020. There are now 197 Parties to the Convention and 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
The parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015 to the United Nations Framework Convention reached a historic agreement to combat climate change, and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments necessary to achieve a sustainable, low-carbon future. The Paris Agreement builds on the agreement, and for the first time brings all countries into common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, while strengthening support to help developing countries do so. As such, it charts a new course in global climate efforts.
The main objective of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the rise in global temperatures this century also to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise even further to 1.5°C. .
On the occasion of Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 2016, 175 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement at United Nations Headquarters in New York. This was the largest number of countries signing an international agreement in one day ever to date. There are now 191 countries that have acceded to the Paris Agreement