The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty signed in 1992 with a primary goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures and mitigating human-induced climate change. It is considered to be the foundational treaty for the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015.
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty that aims to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5, degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This goal is accomplished by outlining a framework for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial and technical support to developing countries.
The Paris Agreement operates on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. This means that while all countries have a shared responsibility to limit global warming, developing countries are given more flexibility and support in their efforts to do so.
One of the key features of the Paris Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by each country. These are essentially self-determined targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are reviewed and updated every five years.
The Paris Agreement also established the Green Climate Fund, which provides financial support to developing countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The fund is aimed at helping countries transition to low-carbon economies and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
As of 2021, 189 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, including all major emitters such as the United States, China, and India. However, there have been concerns about the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement, as the NDCs submitted by countries are not sufficiently ambitious to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Overall, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement provide a necessary global framework for addressing climate change. However, it will take continued effort and political will on the part of countries to ensure that the goals of limiting global warming are met and that the most vulnerable countries are supported in their efforts to adapt to a changing climate.