Climate change is a global phenomenon. We need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions – lowering them in the EU alone is not enough. That’s why the EU strives to promote climate action around the world. We work with non-EU countries bilaterally (one-to-one) and multilaterally (as a group). This section is about multilateral climate action.
UN climate convention
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agreed in 1992, is the main international treaty on fighting climate change. Its objective is to prevent dangerous man-made interference with the global climate system.
The EU and all its member countries are among the 197 Parties to the Convention.
Conference of the Parties (COP)
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual event during which the world’s countries gather to find solutions to the climate crisis.
The COP is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition to the Parties to the Convention, representatives of business, international organisations, interest groups and associations can also join the COP as observers.
Via the COP, the EU promotes ambitious climate action.
We also take part in the yearly Bonn Climate Change Conference, which lays the groundwork for the COP discussions.
At COP21 in 2015 in Paris, all UNFCCC Parties adopted the Paris Agreement: the first ever universal, legally binding global climate agreement. They agreed to limit the global temperature increase from the industrial revolution to 2100 to 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C.
COP28 will take place in Dubai, UAE from 30 November to 12 December 2023. The EU will strive to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees within reach, and support efforts to adapt to climate change.
As well as participating in the negotiations, the EU is organising side events which will be accessible both in person and online.
Before the Paris Agreement, the world's only legally binding instrument for cutting greenhouse gas emissions was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties, including the EU and its member countries. However, because many major emitters are not signatories, the Kyoto Protocol only covers about 12% of global emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol’s top decision-making body is the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). All Parties to the Protocol are represented. Governments that are not Parties attend as observers.
Other international fora
The EU and its member countries participate in international fora whose decisions or recommendations feed directly or indirectly into the UN process. These include the:
Supporting action by non-state actors
Launched at COP22, the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action aims to strengthen collaboration between governments and key stakeholders to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) set up by the UNFCCC allows non-state actors to register their climate commitments. It helps track action that can support countries in achieving their objectives under the Paris Agreement.
The EU and its member countries play an active role in promoting and sponsoring specific initiatives to both mitigate and adapt to climate change around the world.
Examples of initiatives supported by the European Commission:
- Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
- Covenant of Mayors - European Union
- Covenant of Mayors - Eastern Europe
- Covenant of Mayors - Southern Mediterranean
- Covenant of Mayors - Sub-Saharan Africa
- Mission Innovation
- Climate & Clean Air Coalition
- Africa Renewable Energy Initiative
- NDC Partnership
International climate finance
The EU is proud to support developing economies to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The EU, its Member States and the European Investment Bank are together the biggest contributor of public climate finance to developing economies.
They are also the world’s top provider of official development assistance, with action to combat climate change being increasingly integrated into this assistance.
- 6/11/2013 – COM(2013) 768 – Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the joint fulfilment of commitments thereunder
- 6/11/2013 – COM(2013) 769 – Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on technical issues related to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- 6/11/2013 – IP/13/1035 - Climate action: Commission proposes ratification of second phase of Kyoto Protocol
- 6/11/2013 – MEMO/13/956 - Questions & Answers on EU ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
- 30/04/2014 - Submission on the Kyoto Protocol Ambition Mechanism and Technical Annex
- Fact sheet - Closing the pre-2020 'ambition gap': the EU contribution