Berlin Mandate

the Berlin mandate was a ruling reached at the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) to the United

Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in March 1995. It established a process for dealing with matters of climate change. The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. Informally, the conference was known as the Earth Summit. It adopted an international treaty binding countries together in a common effort to meet the challenge of global warming by reducing its effects, or at least by preparing for higher temperatures. The treaty specifically aimed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions to prevent anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

The UNFCCC was opened for signing on May 9, 1992. By March 21, 1994, enough countries had signed that it became a part of international law. The treaty as it was originally written did not set limits on greenhouse emissions by individual countries, lacked an enforcement provision, and was not legally binding. However, it did contain provisions that stated that updates, which were called protocols in the treaty, were to be issued that would set mandatory emission limits. The principal update was to be set at a new conference in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto Protocol was to become much better known than the UNFCCC. After each signatory nation conducted a greenhouse gas inventory, it was responsible for developing a plan for removing or reducing greenhouse gases to acceptable levels. The UNFCCC also named a secretariat that would be charged with supporting the work of implementing the treaty.

The COP 1 met in Berlin for its first session between March 28 and April 7, 1995. The participants concluded that the goals previously reached by those participating in the UNFCCC treaty were not sufficient to meet the challenge of global warming. Originally, the UNFCCC had a goal of returning greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. It was decided that a process should be established for countries to take appropriate action well beyond 2000. COP 1 also called for legally binding standards and emissions limits to be set by international law. Participants in Berlin also created a separate body called the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM).

A second meeting of the Conference Parties took place at Geneva between July 8 and July 19, 1996. The meeting was styled COP 2. The meeting was a midpoint in the negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions that had begun with the Berlin Mandate. COP 2 acted in response to the IPCC Second Assessment Report issued December 1995 that stated that greenhouse gas concentrations had continued to increase, that the climate had changed since 1900, and that there was evidence that the change was anthropogenic. It also predicted that global temperatures would rise by 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) by 2100 and that the climate was expected to change in the future, adding that there were scientific uncertainties.

These Berlin Mandate negotiating sessions were held as follows: AGBM 1 (August 1995), AGBM 2 (October/November 1995), AGBM 3 (March 1996), AGBM 4 (July 1996), AGBM 5 (December 1996), AGBM 6 (March 1997), AGBM 7 (July/August 1997), and AGBM 8 (October/November 1997). The Berlin Mandate negotiations were concluded at COP 3 in Kyoto with the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.

SEE ALSo: Greenhouse Gases; Kyoto Protocol; United Nations.

BIBLioGRAPHY. Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, Provisional Agenda and Annotations: Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, 3rd session, Geneva, 5-8 March 1996 (2nd session Geneva Executive Secretary, 1995); Hermann Horstkotte, Berlin Mandate for Worldwide Climate Protection Resolved: First Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Climate Convention Was a Success (Inter Nationes, 1995); W.A. Morrissey, Global Climate Change: Adequacy of Commitments Under the UN Framework Convention and the Berlin Mandate (Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1996).

Andrew J. Waskey Dalton State College

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