Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff
Chapter 3: International law and institutions for climate change
Public and private actions in response to climate change, at every level from businesses to intergovernmental cooperation, occur in the context of or against the backdrop of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aspires to ‘prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. Governments and observers, industry and environmental advocates alike agree that the primary immediate goal for responding to climate change is to mitigate – that is, to reduce or avoid man-made emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), most importantly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for electric power generation, industrial and commercial energy use, and transportation. The first phase of the most important set of international legal commitments to advance the mitigation goal under the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto) focused on reducing GHG emissions of industrial countries by an average of 5 percent compared to 1990 by the end of 2012. The Parties to Kyoto agreed on a phase II extension at their 8th meeting during the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the UNFCCC in Doha in 2012, but key Parties to Kyoto phase I, including Canada, Japan and Russia, chose not to participate, so Kyoto’s future effectiveness became doubtful.
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