This chapter is about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For 200 years scientists have been telling is that if we cage the atmosphere chemistry a lot by burning fossil fuels we threaten the survival of our own and millions of other species. The UNFCCC is a legally binding framework that the world’s governments agreed to in 1992 to confront the challenge of human-induced climate change. In 1972, there was a summit in Stockholm, Sweden that got the global environmental movement off the ground. 1979 marked the first world climate conference, and in the 1980s, attention shifted to the ozone layer and the danger of industrial chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs that destroyed the upper ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol was passed and companies came up with solutions that were safer than CFCs; it will be difficult to do the same for fossil fuels. This realization about the need for intensified scientific understanding about human-induced climate change led to the created of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro produced the UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC was to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.” The UNFCC said that because science tells us that as greenhouse gas concentrations rise we warm the planet and that is dangerous, we have to stop increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system. How can this be met technologically, fairly, and in the context of different countries and economies? The UNFCCC separated countries into Annex 1 countries, which are the rich countries who are more historically responsible for pollution and have wealth and technology, and the Annex 2 countries, who have more time to take responsibility for CO2 emissions. They have Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). The US then said that it would not be a signatory to any protocol regarding the UNFCCC that would limit the use of greenhouse gas producing technologies unless those mandates also restricted developing countries. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was signed at an annual Conference of the Parties (COP), of which the 21st happened in Paris in 2015. This video is part of the module Towards a New Climate Change Agreement.
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