United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Canada's role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Canada is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the key international forum for global efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change.

Canada joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change along with other nations in 1992. The agreement came into force in 1994 and now has near universal membership with 195 Parties (194 member countries and one regional organization, the European Union).

Canada is committed to working internationally to address climate change through the United Nations, including by:

  • Providing greenhouse gas emissions data on an annual basis;
  • reporting on our progress in reducing net greenhouse gas emissions;
  • providing financial and technical resources to developing countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to assist them in combating climate change; and
  • conducting scientific observations of the world's climate system and research on climate change and its impacts.

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Recent progress under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Ever since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force more than 18 years ago, Canada has participated in its meetings to discuss global action on climate change, gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices, and take stock of national and international progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The annual year-end meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) under the Convention have resulted in several major achievements. For example, COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009 culminated in the Copenhagen Accord, a significant breakthrough in the global effort to address climate change.

The Accord provides for international review of both developed and developing countries' mitigation targets and actions. Under the Accord, developed countries also agreed to scale up climate financing in both the short and long term to support mitigation and adaptation efforts by developing countries, including collective commitments to:

  • Provide new and additional resources approaching $30 billion (in U.S. dollars) for the 2010 to 2012 period, with adaptation funding focused on the poorest and most vulnerable; and
  • Jointly mobilize, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, $100 billion (in U.S. dollars) a year by 2020 from various sources.

At COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010, Parties adopted the Cancun Agreements, which bring us closer to implementing the mechanisms and commitments made under the Copenhagen Accord.

The Cancun Agreements provided for:

  • A framework for all major developed and developing countries to formally anchor their 2020 greenhouse gas targets in a parallel manner;
  • A framework for enhancing the transparency and accountability of all Parties' mitigation actions and GHG emissions through a system of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV);
  • The establishment of a Green Climate Fund , which, once finalized, could be a key channel for delivering a portion of the US$100 billion in climate financing, as committed to under the Copenhagen Accord;
  • The establishment of the Cancun Adaptation Framework to enhance action on adaptation to climate change;
  • The establishment of a Technology Mechanism to enhance technology development and transfer; and
  • The establishment of a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) to enable such action in developing countries.

Building on the Cancun Agreements, the latest round of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations that took place at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa in December 2011 represented further meaningful progress.  A key outcome of the negotiations was the adoption of the Durban Platform (PDF), which launches a process to develop a single, new, comprehensive climate change agreement by 2015 that will include commitments by all major emitters beginning in 2020. By acknowledging that all countries need to take action if we are to succeed in effectively addressing climate change, the Durban Platform builds upon the success of the Cancun Agreements of 2010 and the Copenhagen Accord of 2009, and represents a significant step in advancing international climate change efforts.  

Canada will continue to actively and constructively engage in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations to support the establishment of a fair and comprehensive global climate change regime that will effectively address global climate change and serve Canadian interests.

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