The Cancun Agreements

An assessment by the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

key steps of the United Nations Climate Change Conference


The Cancun Agreements are a set of significant decisions by the international community to address the long-term challenge of climate change collectively and comprehensively over time and to take concrete action now to speed up the global response.

The agreements, reached on December 11 in Cancun, Mexico, at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference represent key steps forward in capturing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures.

  • they form the basis for the largest collective effort the world has ever seen to reduce emissions, in a mutually accountable way, with national plans captured formally at international level under the banner of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • they include the most comprehensive package ever agreed by Governments to help developing nations deal with climate change. This encompasses finance, technology and capacity-building support to help them meet urgent needs to adapt to climate change and to speed up their plans to adopt sustainable paths to low emission economies which can also resist the negative impacts of climate change.
  • they include a timely schedule for nations under the Climate Change Convention to review the progress they make towards their expressed objective of keeping the average global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. This includes an agreement to review whether the objective needs to be strengthened in future, on the basis of the best scientific knowledge available.

thermometer showing the estimated global temperature increase
Thermometer shows the global temperature increase with an uncertainty range according to our interpretation of the countries' pledges.
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Progress towards keeping average global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius to be tracked.

January 2011
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