The EU and its member countries take part in international efforts to fight climate change under the UN climate convention.
UN climate convention
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agreed in 1992, is the main international treaty on fighting climate change. Its objective is to prevent dangerous man-made interference with the global climate system.
The EU and all its member countries are among the 197 Parties of the Convention.
The Paris Agreement adopted by all UNFCCC Parties in December 2015 is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate agreement. It is due to enter into force in 2020.
Before 2020, the world's only legally binding instrument for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties, including the EU and its member countries. However, because many major emitters are not part of Kyoto, it only covers about 12% of global emissions.
2 commitment periods have been agreed:
- 1st period (2008-12) – industrialised countries committed to reduce emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels
- 2nd period (2013-20) – Parties who joined this period committed to reduce emissions by at least 18% below 1990 levels
Conferences of the Parties (COP)
The UNFCCC's top decision-making body is the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). All Parties to the Convention can take part. Representatives of business, international organisations, interest groups and associations have observer status.
Meetings of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)
Kyoto's top decision-making body is the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). All Parties to the Protocol are represented. Governments that are not Parties attend as observers.
These prepare the decisions taken by the COP and CMP. Meetings are held at the annual COP/CMP and the Bonn climate conference each June.
- Subsidiary Body for Scientific & Technological Advice (SBSTA)
- Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)
Other international fora
The EU and its member countries participate actively in international fora whose decisions or recommendations feed directly or indirectly into the UN process. These include the:
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- G8 and G20
- Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF)
- Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- International Energy Agency (IEA).