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International Climate Change Law Research Guide: International Agreements

Introduction

Major sources of international climate change law include the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the decisions made by the UNFCCC in implementing these treaties.

For help decoding the many acronyms used in climate change law and science, see this glossary.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement (TIAS 16-1104)

  • Official Text (United States Treaty and Other International Acts Series)
  • UN Treaty Details
    • Includes a list of participants with treaty adoption status.
  • Secretariat Website
    • Includes overviews of the treaty, detailed reports, and treaty-related documents. Explore the "Process and meetings" and "Documents and Decisions" tabs for more.
  • NDC Registry
    • "Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of [its] long-term goals. NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change." See this page for a general overview of NDCs.

The Katowice Climate Package

Additional Reading

The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol (2303 U.N.T.S. 162)

  • Official Text (UN Treaty Series)
    • The official text can be cumbersome to navigate and is best used for Bluebooking purposes. See this page for a more readable PDF.
  • UN Treaty Details
    • Includes a list of participants with treaty adoption status.
  • Secretariat Website
    • Includes overviews of the treaty, detailed reports, and treaty-related documents. Explore the "Process and meetings" and "Documents and Decisions" tabs for more.

The UNFCCC

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1771 U.N.T.S. 107)

  • Official Text (UN Treaty Series)
    • The official text can be cumbersome to navigate and is best used for Bluebooking purposes. See this page for a more readable PDF.
  • UN Treaty Details
    • Includes a list of participants with treaty adoption status.
  • Secretariat Website
    • Includes news, treaty overviews, detailed reports, and treaty-related documents.
    • See this page for a structural overview of the UNFCCC.

UNFCCC Decisions

The UNFCCC consists of multiple bodies tasked with implementing the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. The main decision-making bodies are the COP (implementing the Convention as a whole), the CMP (implementing the Kyoto Protocol), and the CMA (implementing the Paris agreement). The decisions made by these bodies provide an additional source of international law that build upon the original treaties. You can find the text of these decisions using the UNFCCC Decisions Database or by browsing topics on the UNFCCC website.

UNFCCC decisions are titled according to decision number, the decision-making body, and session number. For example, "Decision 3/CMA.1" refers to the third decision made at the first session of the CMA.

Other UNFCCC Resources

Citation Help

Citing international agreements according to Bluebook format can be tricky. Which citation format you should use depends on whether the United States is party to a treaty. Making matters more complicated is the inconsistency in where U.S. treaties are published.

  • According to Bluebook Rule 21.4.5(a)(ii), when citing to multilateral treaties to which the U.S. is a party (like the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC), you should provide a citation to one of the following treaty sources, in order of preference:
    • U.S.T. (U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements) (ceased production in 1984)
    • Stat. (Statutes at Large) (ceased production in 1949)
    • T.I.A.S. (Treaties and Other International Acts Series)
    • U.N.T.S. (United Nations Treaty Series)
    • One of several more obscure treaty publications not listed here
  • Bluebook Rule 21.4.5(b) provides a few treaty source options for treaties to which the U.S. is not a party, but most major treaties can be found in the U.N.T.S. (United Nations Treaties and other International Acts Series).

The quickest way to find where a treaty was published is to use HeinOnline's World Treaty Index. Search treaties by title to see associated treaty sources. Alternatively, try searching for a law review article that discusses the treaty and check the treaty sources cited in the article.

Citations to official treaty sources for the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, and the UNFCCC are provided above. The best available publication for the Paris Agreement is the T.I.A.S., while the best available publication for the Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC is the U.N.T.S.

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Paris Agreement Background

Legend

CP = Conference of the Parties 

CMA = Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement

CMP = Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol

COP = Conference of the Parties 

FCCC = Framework Convention on Climate Change

INDC = Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

IPCC = Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

NAP = National Adaptation Plan

NDC = Nationally Determined Contributions

PCCB = Paris Committee on Capacity-building

SBI = Subsidiary Body for Implementation

SBSTA = Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice

UNFCCC = United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

WIM = Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts

See this glossary for more.