International climate change negotiations

On the international level, the most important policy definitions on climate change are laid down in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which entered into force in 1994, as well as in the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement that are linked to the UNFCCC. The purpose of the Convention is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

The Convention does not include quantitative objectives. Instead, industrialised countries are committed to reducing their carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, which constitutes a further specification of the Convention. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol lasted from 2008 to 2012; the second runs from 2013 to 2020.



The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015. The agreement entered into force in Novermber 2016. The Agreement has been considered historical and making a difference in the international climate change politics. It includes several uniform oblications for all Parties. It does not include specific emission reduction requirements but each Party is to prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions that it intends to achieve. In Paris Parties also agreed on how to enhance emission reductions already prior to 2020.

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for coordinating the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the related climate change negotiations in Finland.

Key issues in UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

For example, the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have the following obligations:

  • The countries must draft and implement national climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes.

  • The countries must inventory the amount of their greenhouse gas emissions and report on this to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

  • The countries must protect carbon reservoirs and sinks in the soil, forests and seas.

  • The countries must support observations of the climate system and the related research.

  • Industrial countries have a special obligation to undertake efforts to mitigate climate change.

  • The wealthiest industrial countries must provide developing countries with financial support and expert assistance, for mitigation and adaptation programmes and for reporting purposes.

The Convention regards the EU member states, the OECD's 24 original member countries and 14 countries in transition to a market economy as industrial countries. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol obliged industrial countries to reduce their emissions. No obligations were imposed on developing countries.

Supervision of compliance with agreements

The parties to the UNFCCC submit annual reports on their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sinks to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC stipulates that the parties must also submit regular reports (every 3–4 years) on the implementation of policies and measures on climate change consistent with the objectives of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

Furthermore, EU member states submit a country report to the European Commission approximately every two years, concerning their policy measures and the impact of these on trends in greenhouse gas emissions.

UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the Convention's highest decision-making authority. Its first session (COP 1) was held in Berlin in 1995. Since then, Conferences have been held once a year.

The latest Climate Change Conference, held in Warsaw, Poland, on 11 November to 22 November 2013 was already the 19th Conference of the Parties. The next COP will be held in Lima, Peru.

Further information on the COPs and climate change negotiations is available in the reports of the Finnish delegation. Earlier reports are available from the ministry upon request. The reports of the Finnish delegation can be found in Finnish on the Finnish version of this page:

Further information

Outi Honkatukia, Senior Environmental Adviser, tel.+358 295 250 272,

Published 2016-08-18 at 13:27, updated 2017-09-25 at 13:43