United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Chair: Navya Jagarlamudi

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty adopted in 1992 that provides an international framework on combating climate change. Its primary objective is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations" to prevent "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" . As of August 2017, 197 parties have ratified the UNFCCC, and they are represented annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP), the UNFCCC's supreme decision-making body. This body continually assesses progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and produces new treaties and amendments. Some notable treaties include the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

Committee Topics:

Topic A: The Conservation of Rainforests

As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, our need for the presence of rainforests continues to increase as forests substantially contribute to climate change mitigation. However, due to deforestation, rainforests are shrinking by more than 18.7 million acres annually, and this statistic is only rising. In less than half a century, the Amazon Rainforest has decreased by 17%. Deforestation results in the loss of biodiversity, the reduction of carbon sinks, and the loss of renewable resources, so although deforestation is a localized event, its consequences are felt worldwide. Rainforests, most notably the Amazon Rainforest, have become a political playground, as some world leaders believe that individual countries should not be held responsible for protecting their rainforests as deforestation can put them on the path to increased economic development despite the massive environmental consequences this ideology can have. This ethical and political controversy brings about many difficult questions with no simple answers. Why is deforestation still rising despite current conservation efforts? How do we approach protecting rainforests without hindering a nation's economic development or infringing on their sovereignty? How can we rehabilitate and restore previously degraded lands? Who should be held responsible for rainforest conservation?

Topic B: Climate Refugees 

"Climate refugee" is a term used to describe someone who is displaced from their own land due to natural disasters or environmental degradation as a consequence of climate change, although there is no clear definition for such a person in international law. As sea levels, water scarcity, and the intensity of extreme weather events continue to rise, the amount of climate refugees around the world continue to increase although they receive very little recognition or protection. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, almost 143 million people could be displaced due to climate impacts. The emerging wave of nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiments in Western countries already makes it difficult for traditional refugees to seek asylum, let alone this new sect of refugees. What makes this topic so complex is that the countries facing the harshest consequences of climate change and the ones with the largest number of environmental migrants, are the ones that usually have little to no contribution to climate change. This brings up questions such as who should be held responsible for climate change adaptation efforts? How can countries accommodate climate refugees in addition to traditional refugees?  How can we adequately define climate refugees and offer these people special protections? 

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Email: jnavya@udel.edu