The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed by more than 150 countries in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"Human activities have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases," says the convention.
These increases, according to the convention, "enhance the natural greenhouse effect, and will result on average in an additional warming of the earth's surface and atmosphere and may adversely affect natural ecosystems and humankind."
The convention entered into force in 1994. It pointed out that since the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries, and per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low, the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" should be observed in addressing climate change.
According to this principle, developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and provide financial resources, including transfer of technology, for developing countries.
With the funds and technological support provided, developing countries need to adopt measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, according to the convention.
The ultimate goal of the UNFCCC is to achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."
So far, the convention has been ratified by 192 countries.
(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2009)