Evolution of the international climate change policy and processes: UNFCCC to Paris Agreement

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science


Oxford Academic


School of Business and Law




Naser, M. M., & Pearce, P. (2022). Evolution of the international climate change policy and processes: UNFCCC to Paris Agreement. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.422


Evolution of international climate change policy and processes commenced in 1990 with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which made the first global attempt to provide an intergovernmental platform for addressing the effects of climate change. Since then, major advances in the international dialog occurred from 1995 to 2004 during the Kyoto Protocol. However, the Kyoto Protocol outcome was not considered a major success in terms of reducing global emissions, although it succeeded in advancing global market-based flexible mitigation mechanisms, such as emissions trading, joint implementation, and the clean development mechanism. A turnaround in the global approach occurred with the Paris Agreement in 2015, which represented a major turning point in the climate debate, with a bottom-up approach allowing states to set their own emission targets. In addition, the Paris Agreement was the catalyst for formation of bodies and institutions that promote negotiated climate change themes and has permitted countries to work together to share direct practical approaches for tackling climate change. The success of the Paris Agreement can be seen as more countries commit to nationally determined contribution targets. In addition, the practical implication of the bottom-up approach for institutional investors and corporate engagement is evident from the increase in the number of global climate change litigation cases brought against corporations and financial institutions that breach climate change obligations. Going forward, some of the climate change negotiation issues of concern that have yet to be resolved include the differences in contributions required by developed nations as opposed to developing nations, sometimes referred to as the North–South divide in climate change negotiations, the issue of loss and damage associated with climate change events, such as tropical cyclones and storms, and how to account for non-economic loss and damage caused by climate change events.



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