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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Founded in 1988, it provides objective studies to understand climate change –  its impacts, future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. It does this through systematic review of relevant scientific literature and provides comprehensive updates.

Over the past decades, the IPCC has created informed consensus about the connection between human activities and climate change.

Today, the IPCC is an internationally recognised authority on climate change, with its work largely agreed upon by climate scientists and countries.

Introduction to the IPCCC

Summary of the latest IPCC report (2021)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, and Paris Agreement

The UNFCC is a treaty that brings about global collaboration to tackle climate change and its effects. Effective since 1994 when climate change had less scientific credibility, the UNFCC foresaw potential concerns of global action and committed developed countries to act. It has since attempted to keep its 197 member states accountable through various evolutions including the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Agreement (2015).

Effective from 2005 to 2020, the Kyoto Protocol was an attempt to commit countries to limit and reduce greenhouse gases emissions according to agreed individual targets. Given that industrialised and developed countries are largely responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, the Protocol places a heavier burden on the developed countries.

This prompted heavy opposition in the United States Senate and as a result, the United States was not party to this agreement. The Protocol introduced innovative economic mechanisms such as ‘international emissions trading’ where countries can buy ‘emissions’ from other countries to meet their emission targets.

Following greater urgency resulting from increasing scientific consensus on climate change, concerns that the set targets agreed upon from the Kyoto Protocol was insufficient led to the most ambitious Paris Agreement in 2015.

Legally binding and adopted by 196 parties, the Paris Agreement improves upon previous commitment attempts by allowing flexibility in how countries action against climate change as long as it helps to limit global warming to well below 2 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This requires countries, both developed and developing, to commit to achieve climate neutrality – net zero carbon emissions by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with its removal or absorption.

The Agreement places an emphasis on long-term strategic planning to reach its goal. The agreement also supports capacity-building, finance, and technological development for countries who need it.

Countries are held accountable through transparent reports on a cyclical basis to learn from one another and to set more ambitious plans in the next round.

About The Paris Agreement

Comparing the original treaty, Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement