International Climate Agreement


UNCCC“We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time."  

(Copenhagen Accord, 18 December 2009)


While the United States should be a leader in confronting global warming, no one nation can solve this challenge alone.

Why We Need an Internationally Binding Agreement

To avoid the dangerous consequences of run-away climate change we must achieve an international agreement that commits countries to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. NWF is working with environmental organizations around the world to meet this goal.The agreement must be established under the backing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In June of 2012, NWF sent a delegation to Brazil for the UN Rio+20 Summit to represent the views of our diverse members and supporters and to advocate for international solutions to the climate change crisis.


Outcome of RIO + 20

The summit at Rio+20 ended with a chorus of disappointment about the weak and vague final outcome document, with accusations of leaders "failing to lead" and being in the pockets of vested private sector interests. The conference produced only vague goals and few concrete commitments. 

A group of non-profits set out an alternative text to the outcome document, sent to the UN and Rio +20 delegates - here’s an excerpt:

  • The Future We Want is not to be found in the document that bears this name.
  • The Future We Want is not what resulted from the Rio +20 negotiation process.
  • The future that we want has commitment and action, not just promises. It has the urgency needed to reverse the social, environmental and economic crisis, not postpone it. It has cooperation and is in tune with civil society and its aspirations, and not just the comfortable position of governments.

Outcome of Copenhagen in 2009

At the 2009 Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark, the U.S. negotiated an agreement with a number of other countries called the Copenhagen Accord.  The Accord is a political agreement that is voluntary in nature and calls for all nations to reduce emissions and make new investments in clean energy technologies and practices in exchange for developed countries providing assistance to developing nations in adapting to the effects of climate change. As part of this agreement, the U.S. has pledged to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels
  • Help raise $100B per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.

To see other countries’ pledges, visit the UNFCCC web site.

While the Accord has encouraged many countries to come forward with proposed actions to reduce their global warming pollution, the Accord does not provide the legally binding international treaty and the pledges made in association with the Accord would still not prevent global temperatures from exceeding the 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels that scientists say is necessary to tackle the climate crisis.

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