Climate Change and UNFCCC

Climate change compounds many other processes that threaten biodiversity and urgent action is required to address these pressures. The direct and indirect impacts of climate change are of central concern to BirdLife’s objectives and targets, in terms both of biodiversity and human development. BirdLife’s policy work strives to address the closely inter-related challenges of climate change and biodiversity.

Climate change is already having multiple impacts on birds and their habitats, including: changes in behaviour and phenology, such as timings of migration; range shifts and contractions; disruption of species interactions and communities; exacerbation of other threats and stresses, such as disease, invasive species and habitat destruction, degradation and.

It is vital to ensure that the issue of climate change is tackled and the BirdLife Partnership is active across all levels on the issues surrounding climate change. Ecosystems, especially those with high biodiversity play a key role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, efforts must be made to ensure they are safeguarded now and for future generations.


BirdLife and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)                

BirdLife has an active policy and advocacy programme addressing key aspects of the international climate change negotiations, and has been closely following the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for many years.

The BirdLife Partnership is working nationally and internationally to influence government policy and positions, calling for rigorous implementation of the Convention. Of vital importance is safeguarding biodiversity, ecosystems and the essential services they provide for both climate change mitigation, (in particular regarding Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+)), and climate change adaptation. Effective management of ecosystems and restoration of natural systems will help provide resilience to the impacts of climate change and secure livelihoods, improving the capacity of the poorest in particular to deal with the impacts of climate change.

BirdLife is working to ensure that appropriate support is provided for national adaptation planning in developing countries so that it benefits vulnerable people and the ecosystems they rely on. Furthermore, we are promoting the need for action to address the loss and damage from extreme events and, so-called, "slow-onset events" (e.g. sea-level rise, biodiversity loss and desertification) associated with climate change, to countries that share the least responsibility for driving climate change.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, such as badly placed wind farms, unsustainably produced biofuels and harmful irrigation and flood defence measures, are also posing new threats and stresses on birds and their habitats, requiring compliance with and development of robust  environmental and social safeguards.

The BirdLife Partnership is represented by a strong multinational delegation at the annual Conferences of the Parties (COP) and meetings of other bodies of the Convention. BirdLife is part of the Climate Action Network and the REDD Safeguards Working Group and often contributes to joint position papers for UNFCCC meetings.


More about the UNFCCC             

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992, entered into force in 1994 and currently has 195 Parties. The Convention's objective is ‘stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.’

The Convention is the international framework within which climate change mitigation and adaptation measures are discussed and agreed.  It was deliberately designed to be a framework into which additional commitments or other regulatory instruments could be added, such as the Kyoto Protocol.  Unlike some other environmental agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UNFCCC and the Protocol can reach agreements that are legally binding upon their parties.

The Conference of the Parties (CoP) is the overall decision making body of the Convention. It regularly conducts mandatory reviews of the implementation and the adequacy of commitments in the Convention, and any related legal instruments that may have been adopted, such as the Kyoto Protocol. There are two permanent subsidiary bodies established by the Convention to give advice to the CoP – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).  The newest group is the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), a subsidiary body created to undertake the development of a new instrument and raising the level of mitigation ambition.



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