Climate Negotiations in the UN
The Climate Convention (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC) was signed by 154 countries, including Denmark, in June 1992 in connection with an environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Convention has since been ratified by 192 countries, including the US.
The goal of the Climate Convention
The goal of the Climate Convention is to stabilise the content of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to such an extent that dangerous, man-made climate change is prevented. According to the preamble, the stabilisation is to take place in such a manner that the ecosystems are allowed to adjust by natural means. This means that food security may not be compromised, and the possibility of creating sustainable development – socially and economically – may not be endangered.
The Climate Convention is a so-called framework convention. This means that it serves as an overall tool for the mitigation of greenhouse gases, but does not itself contain binding requirements for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
The background for the Climate Convention
In 1990, the UN General Assembly decided to commence drafting an actual climate convention. This was done against a bleak background: the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had in its first synthesis report that same year pointed out the actual risk that a rise in greenhouse gas emissions could affect the global environment to an unprecedented and potentially serious degree.
The Climate Convention is administered by the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. At all UNFCCC conferences, the secretariat is responsible for preparing the agenda, background documents etc.
What is a COP?
Every year, the Parties to the Climate Convention meet at a COP (Conference of the Parties). The Conference of the Parties is the supreme body in the climate negotiations, and major decisions that impact the implementation of the Climate Convention are taken at these conferences. Usually, the conference lasts two weeks, and all countries that have signed the Climate Convention are represented. Typically, several thousands of delegates representing the governments of member states and observer organisations participate, as do journalists and representatives from commercial and civil society organisations. In total, 19 COP's have been held, the latest in Warsaw, Poland, from 11-22 November 2013. The next COP, COP20 will be held in Lima, Peru, from 1-12 December 2014.
Each year a number of preparatory meetings are held. In May/June, a permanent preparatory meeting is held in Bonn, the cradle of the Climate Convention, which is also where its two subsidiary bodies (SBI, Subsidiary Body of Implementation – and SBSTA, Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technical Advice) meet in order to prepare for the COP, which is held at the end of the year.