Increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are one of the main causes of global warming.
Climate change
Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing society today. Over recent years, evidence has been accumulated of its impact on different socio-economic sectors and natural systems in all regions of the planet. For this reason, at the Rio Summit in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sought to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This level must be achieved within sufficient time to allow ecosystems to naturally adapt to climate change, ensure that food production is not threatened and allow economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The IPCC is the main international body tasked with assessing climate change. It was set up in 1988 upon an initiative from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to offer the world a clear scientific vision of the current state of knowledge on climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic ramifications. Since the start of its work in 1988, the IPCC has drawn up five Assessment Reports. The Fifth Assessment Report was published in 2014 and, among the main conclusions drawn therein, the following are worthy of mention:

• The global warming of the climate system is undeniable, and since the 1950s many of the changes observed are unprecedented in the last few decades of the millennium. The atmosphere and the oceans are warmer, the volume of snow and ice has diminished and sea levels have risen.

• Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have increased since the pre-industrial age, to a large extent as a result of economic and demographic growth, and current levels are higher than ever. Consequently, the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have reached unprecedented levels in at least the last 800,000 years. The effects of these emissions, as well as of other anthropogenic factors have been detected throughout the climate system and it is highly likely that they have been the main cause of global warming seen since the start of the second half of the 20th Century.

• In recent decades, climate change has had an impact on natural and human systems on all continents and in all oceans. This impact is due to the climate change observed, regardless of its cause, which shows the sensitivity of natural and human systems to climate change.

• The continuous emission of greenhouse gases will cause further global warming and lasting changes in all the components of the climate system, which will increase the probability of serious, generalised and irreversible effects on people and eco-systems. In order to contain climate change, it will be necessary to significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases which, together with adaptation, may help limit the risks of climate change.

• Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies to reduce and tackle the risks of climate change. If, in the next few decades, emissions are significantly reduced, climate risks may diminish during the course of the 21st Century and subsequently, increase the perspective of effective adaptation, reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the long term and contribute to the path of sustainable development being resilient to climate.

• The effectiveness of the adaptation and mitigation responses will depend on the policies and measures applied at different levels: international, regional, national and sub-national. Policies that support development at all levels, the dissemination and transfer of technology, as well as the financing of responses to climate change may complement and boost the effectiveness of policies that directly foster adaptation and mitigation.

International negotiations
The concern over global warming and its effects is nothing new. The first meeting on the greenhouse effect was held in London in 1960, followed by meetings in Stockholm in 1972 and Geneva in 1979, 1987 and 1990. These meetings then continued with the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which, after the signing of the Framework Convention of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is now held each year.

To date, the COP has been held in Berlin (1995), Geneva (1996), Kyoto (1997), Buenos Aires (1998), Bonn (1999), The Hague (2000), Marrakesh (2001), New Delhi (2002), Milan (2003), Buenos Aires (2004), Montreal (2005), Nairobi (2006), Bali (2007), Poznan (2008), Copenhagen (2009), Cancun (2010), Durban (2011),Qatar (2012), Warsaw (2013), Lima (2014) and Paris (2015).

The most recent climate change summit, the COP21, successfully culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement. This agreement represents a milestone in international negotiations, as it is the first legally-binding international treaty on the fight against climate change, which lays the foundations for a transformation towards low emission development models that are resilient to climate change. The Paris Agreement acknowledges the urgent need to maintain the increase in the average global temperature below 2ºC higher than in pre-industrial times, and even to make additional efforts towards trying to ensure that it does not rise by more than 1.5ºC. Each country must make its own contribution towards the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account individual capabilities and national circumstances. Moreover, the agreement includes one key aspect: the impact of climate change is already being felt and should the emission of greenhouse gases not be stopped urgently, this impact will only continue to rise.

In Spain, the Directorate-General of the Climate Change Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs is the National Focal Point for negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Information on the international process to combat climate change, the Paris Agreement and other important issues.

The integration of climate change in Spanish development cooperation
Spanish policy on the issue of development cooperation is framed within the so-called “Master Plans” of Spanish Cooperation. Both the 3rd Master Plan (2009-2012) and the current 4th Master Plan (2013-2016) include climate change as a priority cornerstone, thus emphasising the importance of tackling specific actions whilst also integrating this issue in all the actions of Spanish Cooperation. Furthermore, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish acronym: AECID) drafted the “Environment and Climate Change Sector Action Plan” in 2011, which seeks to foster a new paradigm for development, characterised by sustainable economies, with high indices of bio-diversity, social justice and equity, and low in emissions.

More information

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  • 25 Sep @SpainMFA * Spanish FM: "During my speech at the #NelsonMandela Peace Summit at the @UN I have recalled that Madiba is synonymo… https://t.co/TImFM5xmEH
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