Introduction to Climate Change

7. The Framework Convention on Climate Change

Shortly after the Second World Climate Conference [held in November 1990], the U.N. General Assembly established the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Climate Convention (INC). The resulting Framework Convention on Climate Change was in many ways disappointing to environmentalists, but was nonetheless a positive step in the control of greenhouse gases. Central to the Convention is the objective found in Article 2. That objective requires the Parties to achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." This objective is the standard by which the Parties' commitments under the climate regime are to be measured. Under Articles 4(2)(d) and 7(2)(a), the Conference of the Parties is charged with periodically evaluating implementation of the Convention to ensure that commitments are adequate to meet this overall objective. It was just such an evaluation that would ultimately lead to the recognition that binding targets were necessary in the Kyoto Protocol. Just as important as the substantive standards in the Climate Change Convention is the institutional framework established for the continued implementation of the Convention and the progressive development of the regime through protocols or amendments.