Status of International GHG Regulation

In the international climate regime, the most fundamental framework convention is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is produced at the Rio Earth Summit, 1992 and originally legally non-binding. Three groups of countries have been identified under the Convention, each group undertook a differing commitments

  • Annex I Parties, which include the industrialized countries member of the OCDE in
    1992 and countries with economies in transition.
  • Annex II Parties consist of the OECD members of Annex I but not countries with
    economies in transition.
  • Non-Annex I Parties, which are mostly developing countries.

They are subject to general commitments to respond to climate change, the same that Annex I and Annex II Parties. They agree to compile an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions and submit reports –known as national communications- on actions they are taking to implement the Convention.

However, to legally bind commitments to emissions cuts, in December 1997 the Kyoto Protocol as a substantial extension to the Convention was outlined, and came into force on 16 February 2005. The most noteworthy elements of the Protocol is its flexible mechanism in assisting Parties cost-effectively meet their reduction target, which even inspire the EU ETS to some extent. The three mechanisms are joint implementation, the clean development mechanism and emissions trading.

Since the current commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, to sustain the efforts to reduce emission and to provide a stable framework for carbon markets and investments into infrastructure, a successor agreement is under way. To date, through the Bali Action Plan adopted in COP 13, 2007, four building blocks and a shared vision for the future agreement have been agreed, that is: enhanced adaptation, enhanced mitigation including emission reduction from deforestation and forest degradation, technology transfer and finance. And according to the Plan, a future agreement will be presented at COP15 in Copenhagen in December 2009.