UN Climate Convention (UNFCCC)
Greenland, as part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is covered by the UN Climate Convention (UNFCCC), which is the only international convention for greenhouse gas emissions management. The Climate Convention is a framework convention, which aims to ensure that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is stabilized at a stage that prevents harmful human impact on the climate. The Climate Convention does not contain any binding reduction obligations for the individual parties to the concention.
The Kyoto Protocol, which has been adopted as a binding agreement under the Climate Convention, contains binding reduction commitments. Greenland undertook, under a bilateral agreement with Denmark, commitments under the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-2012). During the second commitment period (2013-2020), Greenland did not impose reduction commitments due to the objective of achieving economic and industrial growth in Greenland during the period.
The UN parties adopted a new global climate agreement at COP21 in Paris on December 12, 2015. The agreement is a global, legally binding agreement on climate, which will set the framework for global climate cooperation after 2020 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.
The Government of Greenland decided on 31 March 2016 to take a territorial reservation for Greenland by the accession of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Paris Agreement. The reason was that the agreement was not considered sufficient to ensure Greenland’s potential for future socio-economic development. Thus, the agreement does not contain legally binding references to indigenous peoples rights, including the right to development. Greenland is thus not subject to the reduction obligations that the parties to the Paris agreement will assume.
The territorial reservation does not affect Greenland’s reporting obligations under the UN Climate Convention, and Greenland will continue to provide reports on national greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Convention.