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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: December 2009

1 - Climate change: scientific background and introduction

Summary

Objectives and background

Is the climate changing? If so, how does it affect sustainable development opportunities? What are the options to respond to the changes: adapting, mitigating, both? What do these response options cost? How can we maximize synergies between the climate change response and broader sustainable development strategies, and minimize trade-offs between the two? These are the central questions addressed in this book.

Since global climate change was put on the international political agenda in 1992, developments in both climate science and climate policies have been swift, taking into account the complexity of the issues at stake. On the political side, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was agreed upon in 1992, and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol with legally binding commitments was signed in 1997. Progress was stalled after the repudiation of the Protocol by the US government in 2001. In a world divided by a wide variety of stakeholders, the UNFCCC continues, however, to be the main negotiations platform and the only available international regime that has to meet the challenge of achieving global co-ordination of national climate change responses in the direction of a common goal: avoiding dangerous interference with the climate system (see also Box 1.1). During negotiations in The Hague in 2000, in Bonn in the summer of 2001, and finally in Marrakech in autumn 2001, barriers were overcome and a very detailed cookbook was agreed describing the implementation modalities of the Protocol: the Marrakech Accords.

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