The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an intergovernmental treaty developed to address the problem of climate change. The Convention was negotiated from February 1991 to May 1992, and opened for signature at the June 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Rio Earth Summit). The UNFCCC entered into force on the 21st of March 1994. By August 2009 it had been ratified by 193 countries. Parties to the Convention have regular meetings – the Conference of Parties (COP) – to assess their progress towards meeting their obligations and to consider future climate change actions.The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC. It was designed to secure binding commitments for greenhouse gas reduction from industrialized countries and members of the former Soviet Bloc (known collectively as “Annex I Countries”). The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encourages ind ustrialized countries to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. The essential feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. It was first agreed in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, although ongoing discussions were needed between 1998 and 2004 to finalize the details.