In 1992, countries joined in an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as framework for international coorporation to combat climate change. Together, the parties meet annually in the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to discuss, negotiatate, and assess plans in fighting climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding agreement in which developed country parties must reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, was adopted. In December 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted. It entered into effect in October 2016.

The UNFCCC video below provides a review of progress made since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015 and hurdles faced in reaching the agreement’s main goal: to keep global temperature warming well below 2°C.

There is plenty of information regarding the UNFCCC that can be found online. Click through some of our favorite sources below:

UNFCCC Timeline

In 1988, the IPCC was established. Since then, the United Nations has aimed to reduce GHG emissions and protect the environment on an international scale for 30 years. To view a timeline released by the UNFCCC, click here.

Climate – Get the Pig Picture

 The UNFCCC, with support from the government of Singapore, has put together a terrific webpage, Climate – Get the Big Picture  that provides general background as well as background of key issues.  For more in depth explanations of UNFCCC initiatives, this website is a great resource.

Climate Governance educational videos

The International Institute for Sustainable Development prepared a series of videos discussing climate governance before COP 21 in 2015. Although a few years out of date, they provide a good background to the UNFCCC and the state of international climate negotiations. Watch the videos below:


Free online courses (UN CC:e-Learn)

The UN has created the UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UNCC Learn) along with other educational modules on more specific topics. If you are looking for a more in-depth introduction to the UNFCCC, climate science and national policy, you can take online courses for free here.


The UNFCCC website regularly updates their website with news relevant to different climate topics. These topics include adaptation, mitigation, land use, capacity-building, gender, and more

Organizations and projects to follow

Ambition to Action: This project monitors the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions by country parties. They release NDC Update Reports twice a year; these reports can be downloaded from their website.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: C2ES works to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. A key objective is to develop national market-based programs to reduce emissions cost-effectively.

Climate Action Tracker: The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is an independent scientific analysis produced by research organizations that track climate action. CAT tracks progress towards the goal of holding warming well below 2°C by 2100. It tracks 32 countries that contribute to around 80% of global emissions.

Project for Advancing Climate Transparency: PACT provides research and support in advancing transparency between parties and planning for the Global Stocktake.

World Resources Institute: A research organization that works around the world, the WRI is instrumental in the advancement of climate research and advancement in sustainability. They regularly publish reports instrumental for the advancement of climate policy.