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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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Global Climate

United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change

In response to the warnings of scientists, governments launched negotiations in December 1990 on a global treaty to address the problem of climate change. After 15 months of talks, they adopted by consensus in 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which set an “ultimate objective” of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at safe levels. Such levels, which the Convention does not quantify, should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. To achieve this objective, all Parties (countries that have ratified the Convention) have a general commitment to address climate change, adapt to its effects, and report on the action they are taking to implement the Convention. The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 4, 1992, and came into force on March 21, 1994. Today, some 181 governments have ratified the treaty. The United States ratified the Convention on October 15, 1992. Parties to the Convention meet regularly at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to review the implementation of the Convention and continue talks on how best to tackle climate change. For more information, please see the UNFCCC web site at: www.unfccc.int

Text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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