The International Regime: An Overview of the International Structures Addressing Climate Change

Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Chapter 2, Vol. VII Issue 2 pp.31

January 1, 2007

By Kyle Danish

Efforts to construct an international regime to address global climate change have been under way since 1990. A high water mark in the evolution of this regime was  the entry into force in February 2005 of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, the Kyoto Protocol will not be the final word on the issue. Its emission limits cover only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and those limits expire in 2012.

The current international climate change regime comprises a network of agreements and mechanisms. Some of these agreements are “nested” in the sense that one unfolds from another. For example, the Kyoto Protocol is an outgrowth of and is formally linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States is a party to the Framework Convention, but opted not to join to the Protocol. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is a part of the European Union’s strategy for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, but could continue to exist after the expiration of the Protocol’s 2008-2012 “commitment period.” Standing parallel to these initiatives is the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which is a multilateral, not legally binding program. The Asia-Pacific Partnership is not formally linked to the Framework Convention or to the Protocol.

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