What are the “objectives” meant to be? A comparative study of multilateral environmental agreements on articles on objectives, with primary attention on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • Yasuko Kameyama
  • Izumi Kubota


In order to deal effectively with any type of environmental problem, it seems quite obvious that concrete targets must be set for activities that are to be implemented pursuant to the goals. The aim of this study was to investigate Article 2 of the UNFCCC on the “ultimate objective” and to clarify the specific role attributed to it. By comparing the objective article with those of other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), it became clear that articles on objectives in MEAs can only be found in those agreed upon during or after 1991 and that the role of the articles differ from each other depending on the negotiating process and circumstance of each agreement. The UNFCCC is unique among agreements that have similar articles containing objectives. This uniqueness proved to be a result of the negotiation process during 1991 and 1992, where some countries proposed the insertion of long-term targets by individual countries in the article. Article 2 of the UNFCCC has not been very effective in the past in inducing governments to negotiate ambitious emission reduction targets, not merely by insufficiency of scientific knowledge related to a concrete level of the ultimate objective, but also because of the nature of the article that was matured during the negotiating process by adding the word “ultimate” before “objective”. With increasingly robust scientific evidence and findings on climate change, however, the article has been rapidly gaining attention. It is suggested that the objectives contained in MEAs have the potential to be utilized as a necessary condition for the determination of short- to mid-term commitments for each country.

Key words

Objective Multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Comparative study Negotiating process 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasuko Kameyama
    • 1
  • Izumi Kubota
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Global Environmental ResearchNational Institute for Environmental StudiesIbarakiJapan

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