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UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes

At the Rio Summit in 1992, 154 nations signed an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which upon ratification committed signatory governments to a voluntary "non-binding aim" to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, mainly in industrialised countries. The convention entered into force in 1994. The aim of the convention is to have a framework under which countries agree to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and stop temperature increases. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was added to the treaty and it has been ratified by 184 countries. The Protocol was set up with the main intention of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000 by setting more powerful and legally binding measures for 37 states.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the Convention; it is the highest decision-making authority. It is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention. The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise.

The Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) is the "supreme body" of the Kyoto Protocol. It is an association of those Parties to the Convention that have also ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The CMP meets every year at the same time as the COP.

The Convention established two permanent subsidiary bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). These bodies give advice to the COP and the CMP, and each has a specific mandate. The SBSTA and the SBI traditionally meet in parallel, at least twice a year.


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