The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), which facilitates the fight against global warming. UNFCCC is an international agreement on environmental protection, with the main objective to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 countries (the Annex I countries) commit themselves to reduce their emission of the four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons), and every member country makes general commitments. The target of the Annex I countries under the Protocol is a 5.2% reduction of GHG emissions relative to the 1990 level. Emission limits do not cover emissions by international transport and aviation but are in addition to targets on industrial gases and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are dealt with under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
The conference of the UN Climate Change Convention took place from 7 to 18 December 2009 in the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 5th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, where the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC was renegotiated. The conference was attended by the parties to the UNFCCC. Before the conference, in March 2009, the Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions Summit of Science took place. A commitment was made in Copenhagen to provide an initial USD 30 bn (for the period between 2010 and 2012) to facilitate a quick start, and developed countries promised to mobilize long-term finance of a further USD 100 billion a year by 2020. The new Copenhagen Green Climate Fund is crucial in building trust and cooperation between developed and developing countries. The agreement includes the measurement and verification of specific targets, measures and financing, as well as the basic principles of providing information relating to these issues, which are crucial in promoting transparency and accountability in the carbon markets. COP 15 failed to deliver a legally binding agreement. This means that international policymakers are likely to play a less prominent role in replacing fossil fuels and the reduction of excessive carbon dioxide emission.
The 2010 UN Climate Change Conference took place from 29 November to 10 December 2010 in Cancun, Mexico. The conference is officially referred to as the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (CMP 6) to the Kyoto Protocol. In addition, the two permanent subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)– held their 33rd sessions. The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference extended the mandates of the two temporary subsidiary bodies, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), and they met as well. An agreement was adopted at the summit, although it is non-binding. The agreement recognizes that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet, which needs to be urgently addressed by all parties. It affirms that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and that all parties share a vision for long-term cooperative action in order to achieve the objective of the Convention, including through achievement of a global goal. It recognizes that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid twentieth century are very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, as assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report. The agreement further recognizes that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required, with a view to holding the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal, consistent with science and on the basis of equity; and recognizes the need to consider, in the context of the first review, strengthening in relation to a global average temperature rise of 1.5°C. The agreement also notes that addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift towards building a low-carbon society. The agreement calls on rich countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord, and for developing countries to plan to reduce their emissions.