Inter-Govt. Climate Action Overview


Inter-Governmental Action on Climate Change

Last edit 6Jan19



KATOWICE Climate Conference 2018 - CLICK HERE





Climate Conference before Paris:

A very significant intergovernmental climate conference was the Copenhagen Climate Conference COP15 (Denmark) in 2009. This was followed by the the Cancun Climate Conference COP16 (Mexico) in 2010 (also see HERE). Durban Climate Conference COP17 HERE. The 2012 International Climate Conference was in Doha, Qatar.  The 2013 Conference in Warsaw COP19.  2014 climate conference in Lima, Peru (COP 20)

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The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol (KP) is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aimed at fighting global warming and climate change impacts. HERE is the UNFCCC site on the KP.

The KP recognizes "Annex 1" countries, developed countries, which are responsible for most of the cumulative greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as having special responsibility for carbon greenhouse gas emission reductions. Here is a graph of carbon emissions up to the year 2000 by region:


The KP started the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), emissions trading ("cap-and-trade") aimed at a start of mitigating global warming and climate change. The KP was never supposed to be the final mitigation solution, but rather a first step. The KP also provided for an "Adaptation Fund" for non Annex I countries, to be funded mostly by the CDM.

Countries other than Annex 1 have no emission reduction responsibility under the KP. However China and India among other non-Annex 1 countries have rapidly increased emissions since 2000, and China is currently the #1 emitter on a country basis (though not on a per-capita basis). For this reason, the U.S. never ratified the KP. 

The Durban Platform adopted at the Durban Climate Conference (2011) and the Doha Conference (2012) extended the KP past 2012. In addition, the distinction between Annex 1 and other countries in terms of emissions reduction responsibilities is to be abolished in a future climate treaty to be negotiated, but which is expected to be implemented only after 2020.

Right-wing media regularly attack the KP as being expensive and ineffective. This is part of the climate denier/contrarian/faux-skeptic agenda that no mitigation of climate change is worthwhile, based on flawed analyses that minimize climate risks and maximize mitigation expense. For an analysis of contrarian positions, see HERE.

The UNFCCC, to which the KP is a protocol, is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." The US is a signatory to the UNFCCC.

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Bilateral and Multilateral Climate Negotiations

There have been bilateral (2-country) and multilateral climate negotiations. For example:


  • HERE is a China - US statement of co-operation on climate mitigation through renewable energy action (2013). 
  • U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (2013)
  • U.S.-China Joint Statement on Climate Change (2/15/14)

    In light of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its worsening impacts, and the related issue of air pollution from burning fossil fuels, the United States and China recognize the urgent need for action to meet these twin challenges. Both sides reaffirm their commitment to contribute significantly to successful 2015 global efforts to meet this challenge. Accordingly, China and the United States will work together, within the vehicle of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) launched last year, to collaborate through enhanced policy dialogue, including the sharing of information regarding their respective post-2020 plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Regarding practical cooperative actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, the two sides have reached agreement on the implementation plans on the five initiatives launched under the CCWG, including Emission Reductions from Heavy Duty and Other Vehicles, Smart Grids, Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, Collecting and Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, and Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Industry, and commit to devote significant effort and resources to secure concrete results by the Sixth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in 2014. 

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UN TV, the UNFCCC Climate Change Studio, Climate Change TV

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UNDP (UN Development Program)

From the UNDP:

  • HERE is a calendar of climate change events.

  • HERE is a history of climate change negotiations.

  • There are publications with details, for example:

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HERE are links to UN organizations involved with climate change, the 2007 Bali Road Map, the 1992 Rio Declaration, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and NGO activities on climate change, including the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development (NY).

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Methods & Science

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) regularly undertakes work on methodological and scientific matters as they relate to the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol process.  Some of the issues the SBSTA is currently dealing with are scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of mitigation of climate change; land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); bunker fuels; and research and systematic observation.


Scientific, Technical and Socio-Economic Aspects of Mitigation of Climate Change
The ultimate objective of the Convention is the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Accordingly, under Article 4.1(b) of the Convention, all Parties are required to undertake efforts to mitigate climate change.


Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD)
This web portal aims to facilitate access by developing countries to information made available by Parties, relevant organizations and stakeholders in a number of areas related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.


Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)
The UNFCCC defines “sink” as “any process, activity or mechanism which removes a greenhouse gas, an aerosol or a precursor of a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere”. The development of policy on “sinks” has evolved to cover emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities and thus, the acronym LULUCF is now used to refer to this sector.

Image Emissions Resulting from Fuel Used for International Transportation: Aviation and Marine "Bunker Fuels"
In accordance with the IPCC Guidelines for the preparation of greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and the UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories, emissions from international aviation and maritime transportation (also known as international bunker fuel emissions) should be calculated as part of the national GHG inventories of Parties, but should be excluded from national totals and reported separately. These emissions are not subject to the limitation and reduction commitments of Annex I Parties under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

Research and Systematic Observation
The Convention calls on Parties to promote and cooperate in research and systematic observation of the climate system, including through support to existing international programmes and networks (see Articles 4.1(g) and 5). In doing so, the Convention commits Parties to cooperate to improve the capacities of developing countries to participate in research and systematic observation. “Research and Systematic Observation” has regularly been an agenda item of the SBSTA since its seventeenth session.


Other Methodological Issues
This section includes information about interactions with the ozone layer; the Brazilian proposal; single projects; review of methodological work; Third Assessment Report of the IPCC; and links to sources of data on greenhouse gas emissions and to socio-economic data and tools.


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Links to Negotiations and all other climate topics from the UNFCCC





Interim Climate Talks (examples)

Interim talks are held between the annual climate conferences. For example, from the April 2013 Bonn Climate Change meeting, HERE is the press briefing from the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figuereas:

HERE is a video report on the Bonn talks (June, 2011), and HERE is information about talks in Bangkok (April 2011), in preparation for Durban, and HERE is information about intermediate talks in preparation for Cancun, in Germany (2010).

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Here is a list of acronyms helpful in deciphering climate documents:

AOSIS Alliance of Small Island States
AWG-KP Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol
AWG-LCA Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention
BAP Bali Action Plan
BAU Business as Usual
CA Copenhagen Accord
CDM Clean Development Mechanism
CMP Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties
COP Conference of the Parties
EU European Union
G-20 Group of Twenty
G-8 Group of Eight
GEF Global Environment Facility
GHG Greenhouse Gas
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPCC FAR IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
IPRs Intellectual Property Rights
LDCs Least Developed Countries
LULUCF Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry
MRV Measurement, Reporting and Verification
NAMAs Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions
ODA Official Development Assistance
REDD-plus Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus Conservation
SBSTA Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Techno- logical Advice
SIDS Small Island Developing States
UNDP United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change




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