As public concern about changes in the world's climate mounted in the 1980s, the WMO
(World Meteorological Organisation) and the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme)
established the IPCC
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in 1988 to assess the seriousness of the
problem. The First Assessment Report of the IPCC, completed in 1990, highlighted the
global threat of climate change.
In December 1990, the UN General Assembly decided to launch negotiations on
what was to become the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The
negotiations commenced in February 1991 and were concluded in 15 months. The Convention
was adopted in May 1992, and opened for signature in Rio at the UN Conference on
Environment and Development. It came into force in March, 1994 after being ratified by 50
The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the
Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant
provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the
atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
climate system. Such a level 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.
In 1997, the Parties to the UNFCCC adopted
Protocol, which requires Annex I countries (developed countries and economies in
transition) to reduce their overall GHG emissions by 5.2% below their 1990 levels.
An important milestone in the international negotiations on
climate change was reached at the resumed session of CoP 6 (sixth Conference of Parties to
the UNFCCC, which promotes and reviews the implementation of the Convention) held in Bonn,
in July 2001. Political agreement was reached to help countries move towards the adoption
of the Kyoto Protocol, which was formalized into the Marrakesh Accords in
The next session of the Conference of Parties (COP-8) is to be held in New Delhi during 23
October-1 November 2002.
Status of ratification
of the Kyoto Protocol