Across the globe, several countries have identified the existence of climate change. Therefore, they have joined together on various occasions, to make a commitment to themselves, to each other, and to the globe, to combat the effects of climate change. The following is a description of such commitments.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro June 3 - 14 1992. The framework for the treaty began in 1991, but it was at the convention that the treaty was opened for signature. It entered into force in March 1994 following ratification by 50 countries. The objective of the treaty is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.
The treaty itself set no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Therefore, the treaty is considered legally non-binding. Instead, the it provides for updates, called "protocols,” that set mandatory emission limits.
The principal update is the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol has become widely recognized, becoming better known than the UNFCCC itself. The Kyoto Protocol, aimed at fighting global warming, was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of July 2010, 193 states have signed and ratified the protocol: http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/status_of_ratification/items/2613.php
Under the Protocol, 37 countries commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride - and two groups of gases - hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons – which are produced by the greenhouse gases. Additionally, all member countries give general commitments, such as agreeing to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions.
Each country is required to submit an annual report of all greenhouse gas emissions.
1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987, and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone seven revisions, in 1990 (London), 1991 (Nairobi), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1993 (Bangkok), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050.
It has been ratified by 196 states: http://ozone.unep.org/Ratification_status/
1979 Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
The Geneva Convention is an international environmental treaty that intends to protect the human environment against air pollution and to gradually reduce and prevent air pollution, including long-range transboundary air pollution. The convention opened for signature on November 13, 1979 and entered into force on March 16, 1983. 51 parties have agreed to the treaty: http://www.unece.org/env/lrtap/status/lrtap_st.htmIt has been extended by eight protocols that identify specific measures to be taken by the party members to cut their emissions of air pollutants.
Parties develop policies and strategies to combat the discharge of air pollutants through exchanges of information, consultation, research and monitoring. The Parties meet annually at sessions of the Executive Body to review ongoing work and plan future activities including a work plan for the coming year.
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