In the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in 1992 at Rio (also known as the Earth Summit), UNFCCC along with two other conventions UN convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification were agreed. UNFCCC entered force in March 21, 1994 with 196 countries (known as “parties”) signing the treaty. Parties to UNFCCC are classified as either Annex I countries, Annex II countries or Developing countries. Annex I countries are industrialized countries and economies in transition who have committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to a level below their 1990 levels. Annex 2 countries consist of OECD members excluding the economies in transition.
These parties started to meet annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to chart out an international discourse on climate change. COP3 in Kyoto saw the adoption of Kyoto Protocol, a treaty for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on December 11, 1997. COP16 held in Cancun saw the adoption of major principles of the Copenhagen Accord which were limiting global temperature to 20 C and establishing a framework for a Green Climate Fund. Paris Agreement reached in COP21 in Paris in 2015 reaffirmed the goal of limiting global temperature increase by well below 20 C and putting effort in limiting the increase to 1.50 C.