United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change – a subsidiary body of the United Nations – adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on May 9, 1992. It came into force on March 21, 1994. It aimed at encouraging countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions below levels which would prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

The UNFCCC is one of the three conventions discussed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit) in June 1992. It is closely linked with the other two Rio Conventions : the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The UNFCCC was originally signed by 158 countries. The Convention currently has 165 signatories and 198 Parties have ratified it. (Signatories are qualified to ratify, accept or approve a treaty. Ratification is an 'international act' whereby a State indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty.)

India signed the UNFCCC on June 10, 1992, and ratified it on Nov 1, 1993. As per the requirements of the Convention, the country submitted its first ‘national communication’ to the United Nations in 2004 and the first biennial update report in 2015. These provide situational assessments and outline the various measures undertaken by the country to combat climate change.

The UNFCCC contains 26 articles. Articles 1-3 define the scope of the Convention. Articles 4-6 outline the commitments and responsibilities of the Parties. Articles 7-14 deal with the implementation of the Convention and working of the statutory bodies. Article 15-18 consider amendments to the Convention and Articles 19-26 outline the Depository of the Convention, signing and ratification procedures.

The following are excerpts from seven of the 26 Articles, which highlight the different aspects of the Convention:

Article 1: “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

Article 2: 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 3: The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.

The specific needs and special circumstances of developing country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and of those Parties, especially developing country Parties, that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention, should be given full consideration.

Article 4: All Parties, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall formulate, implement, publish and regularly update national and, where appropriate, regional programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change by addressing anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, and measures to facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change.

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.

The Parties shall take full account of the specific needs and special situations of the least developed countries in their actions with regard to funding and transfer of technology.

Article 5: The Parties shall support and further develop, as appropriate, international and intergovernmental programmes and networks or organizations aimed at defining, conducting, assessing and financing research, data collection and systematic observation, taking into account the need to minimize duplication of effort.

Article 7: The Conference of the Parties, as the supreme body of this Convention, shall keep under regular review the implementation of the Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt, and shall make, within its mandate, the decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention.

Article 12: Each Party shall communicate to the Conference of the Parties, through the secretariat, the following elements of information: (a) A national inventory of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol (b) A general description of steps taken or envisaged by the Party to implement the Convention; and (c) Any other information that the Party considers relevant to the achievement of the objective of the Convention and suitable for inclusion in its communication, including, if feasible, material relevant for calculations of global emission trends. 

Focus by Siddhita Sonavane.


United Nations


United Nations


09 May, 1992