​United Nations Framework ​Convention
​on Climate Change

UN negotiations under and implement
​the 1992 UN FCCC.

​​The Kyoto Protocol as of 2013 has expired, the EU extending its commitment and the US and Canada having already withdrawn.

The strong 2007-2009 ​​urging from the IPCC andn others that a new UN treaty must be agreed on by 2012 has not happened. Post 2007 negotiations making no progress were put on hold with a delayed so called deadline of a 2015 conference in Paris. 

The agenda has been watered down ​​to individual national voluntary contributions to be simply lodged wit the UN and assessed periodically in terms of the 2C international policy target. A new 2015 treaty is said to make 2020 the earliest time for measures to be applied by nations and the US has submitted this goal should 2025 (FIELD legal report). 

​​UNFCCC obligations 

Most climate change sources mistakenly think that the DAI is not clearly defined and most experts say that science cannot define 'dangerous' with respect to climate change. ​​In fact DAI is clearly and specifically defined by the UNFCCC so it is well defined for the scientists, and science routinely determines dangers to the public and makes recommendations to governments for the protection of the public.   

​​Legal experts debate to what extent States are obligated under the UN Framework climate convention. The fact is if States sincerely wish to avoid disastrous to catastrophic impacts the UNFCCC provides a clear, well defined comprehensive agreement with specific terms that all States could agree on implementing.

​​In particular the obligation of wealthy States to provide all manner of assistance to the least developed and responsible States is included several times. It is this provision for the most vulnerable that the most responsible nation governments continue to use to block any progress on a new emissions reduction agreement. Both politically and practically the industrially developing nations are being forced to industrialize using fossil fuels, when under the convention they would be industrializing using clean energy sources.  

The evidence is overwhelming that the world is far beyond dangerous anthropogenic interference (or DAI, as the scientists call it) with the climate system. 

The first thing to do in order to get those involved in international climate change negotiations and national policy making to act on their responsibilities is to get them to acknowledge that, after 15 years of delaying tactics, the world is far beyond dangerous climate interference.

"The stated goal of the UNFCCC – avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate – is in fact unattainable, because today we are already experiencing dangerous anthropogenic interference."

— John P. Holdren, Distinguished Scientist Seminar, 3 Nov 2006.
(Dr. Holdren is US Presidential Science Adviser, Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University, and Former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science)

Even so, no one has submitted that this is the case to the United Nations climate negotiations. As a result, the negotiators are not under pressure to reach an agreement and the industrialized nations are not being held accountable under international law.

It is acknowledged that dangerous interference with the climate system refers to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The distinction between dangerous interference and dangerous climate change is most important because of the climate system inertia. 

At point in time the heat transferred to the planet by amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is not reflected by the global temperature increase at that time. Most of the heat (90%) has been taken up by the oceans and there is a 30 year lag for that heat to be registered at the surface of the planet as a temperature increase. The ocean heat lag means the temperature increase at the time is committed to double in the future. 
Many people involved with global climate change think that DAI is not clearly defined by the UN climate convention. That's not correct. It is explicitly and specifically clearly defined in the text (body) of the convention.

Why does DAI as defined by the UNFCCC matter?
Global climate change can only be controlled with an international agreement involving the governments of all nations and the only basis/means for such an agreement that exists is the UNFCCC. It is also the only political and legalistic way to hold governments accountable for their inaction on emissions which now makes many disastrous to catastrophic impacts unavoidable.    

DAI is defined as an atmospheric GHG concentration ​​that would endanger or risk the sustainability of ecosystems, food productivity,and economies, with particular reference to the most climate change regions (that are listed) and populations.  

From the 1992 UNFCCC​​

"Adverse effects of climate change" means changes in the physical environment or biota resulting from climate change which have significant deleterious effects on the composition, resilience or productivity of natural and managed ecosystems or on the operation of socioeconomic systems or on human health and welfare

​​Adverse effects comes up several times with respect to the most vulnerable populations, and the vulnerable regions are listed.

It should be noted that all nations accept that the climate convention is binding.

​Key UNFCCC provisions.

Strong legal language e.g. shall ​rather than should

Defining goals
  • Risk​ based (avoidance of danger)
  • Precaution​ary principle
  • Safe atmospheric GHG levels​ goal
  • Differential nation responsibility​ for cumulative emissions
  • Limit emissions first by Annex 1 industrialized most responsible nation Parties
  • Rapid return ​of emissions to pre-1992
  • Transfer of funds and technology to the most vulnerable in particular.                               (a) Small island countries;                                       (b) Countries with low-lying coastal areas;                     (c) Countries with arid and semi-arid areas, forested areas and areas liable to forest decay;                       (d) Countries with areas prone to natural disasters;         (e) Countries with areas liable to drought and desertification;                                                           (f) Countries with areas of high urban atmospheric pollution;                                                                 (g) Countries with areas with fragile ecosystems, including mountainous ecosystems;

​​Article 2 Objective

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.

​Article 4 Commitments
2a The developed country Parties in annex I commit themselves specifically 

(a) Each of these Parties shall adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs. These policies and measures will demonstrate that developed countries are taking the lead in modifying longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions consistent with the objective of the Convention, recognizing that the return by the end of the present decade to earlier levels of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol would contribute to such modification

3. The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in annex II shall provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country Parties in complying with their obligations under Article 12 , paragraph 1. They shall also provide such financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, needed by the developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs of implementing measures that are covered by paragraph 1 of this Article and that are agreed between a developing country Party and the international entity or entities referred to in Article 11 , in accordance with that Article. The implementation of these commitments shall take into account the need for adequacy and predictability in the flow of funds and the importance of appropriate burden sharing among the developed country Parties.

4. The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in annex II shall also assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects.

5. The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in annex II shall take all practicable steps to promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and know-how to other Parties, particularly developing country Parties, to enable them to implement the provisions of the Convention. In this process, the developed country Parties shall support the development and enhancement of endogenous capacities and technologies of developing country Parties. 


What is happening in the UN climate negotiations and What is 'dangerous interference with the climate system'?

The term "dangerous (anthropogenic) interference with the climate system" (DAI) refers to the agreement and requirements of industrialized nations on the control of their greenhouse gas emissions under the clear intention and terms of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (Anthropogenic means caused by human activities.)

As of May 2015 just 37 of 196 U.N. member states have submitted plans to the United Nations, outlining their actions to slow global warming AFTER 2020 for the December 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference. The plans have been forced by big economy nation Parties the convention to be watered down from clear obligations under only Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

A May 2015 ​​Reuters report indicates there will be no real progress at the Pairs COP21. It says the world's richest nations are unlikely to reach a deal to phase out subsidies for coal exports at talks in June, reducing the chances of a new global climate change agreement at a U.N. conference in Paris, officials and campaigners say.

The export credits help developed nations supply coal-fired generation and mining technology to poor nations, a practice critics say harms attempts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been seeking for a year to agree to phase out export credits for coal, the most polluting fossil fuel.

​The Dec 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference, after years of deadlock and delays is the deadline for a new UN agreement. However it will not be legally and will allow national governments to carry on with individual policies and plans regards climate change. In terms of the UNFCCC it is a non agreement that flouts the terms of the Convention and keeps the world headed for planetary catastrophe.

​Lima COP20 Dec 2014 resulted only in The Lima Call to Action 
Notes for Understanding the Lima Outcome From Bad to Worse: A Roadmap to Global Burning 
​By Pablo Salon (Executive Director of Focus on the Global South)