UNFCCC Article 2 Text

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Humanity has an ultimate objective to guide its response to climate change.  The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into force on March 21, 1994 (UNFCCC).  The 195 countries that ratified the UNFCCC are Parties to the Convention.  By ratifying the UNFCCC, they each adopted an ultimate objective that is set out in Article 2:


Article 2


The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.  Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.


The world has an ultimate objective, but is it clear what is needed?  The simple conclusion is that 195 countries have agreed to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases at some point.  But what is dangerous interference with the climate system?

The International Panel on Climate Change addressed this question in 2007 when it published its 4th Assessment Report.  They review the findings of expert groups that asssociate uppper limits of risk at global average temperature increases of between 1ºC and 2ºC, and greehouse gas concentrations as high as 550 parts per million CO2-equivalent.  The IPCC's AR4 focusses on key vulnerabilities that relate to Article 2:  biological systems, social systems, geophysical systems, extreme events and regional systems.  The IPCC article, What is dangerous interference with the climate system?, discusses the compleixities of this question in more detail.

Since 2007, some scientists have identified 350 ppm CO2 as an upper boundary, although increased radiative forcing of 1 watt per square meter of the earth is more comprehensive because it includes other greenhouse gases and all other human-caused factors (Hansen et al., 2008; Rockström et al., 2009; Steffen et al., 2015).




IPCC-2007  What is dangerous interference with the climate system?

UNFCCC  Introducing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

UNFCCC  Text of the Convention (English) [PDF]




UNFCCC.  First steps to a safer future: Introducing The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/items/6036.php [link]