The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 jointly by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), with the aim of assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the risk of human-induced climate change. Since its inception, the IPCC has produced a series of comprehensive Assessment Reports on the state of our knowledge about the causes of climate change, its potential effects, and options for response strategies. It has also prepared Special Reports, Technical Documents, methodologies and guidelines. IPCC publications have become commonly used reference works,
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The international response to the challenge of climate change has materialized in two legal instruments, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994, and the Kyoto Protocol. The Convention, ratified by 186 countries, has as its ultimate goal to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order to prevent dangerous anthropogenic disturbances in the climate system.
The Kyoto protocol
In 1997, governments agreed to incorporate an addition to the treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, which develops and gives concrete content to the generic provisions of the UNFCCC and which has more vigorous (and legally binding) measures. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997 and which entered into force in February 2005, establishes, for the first time, targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions for the main developed countries and countries with economies in transition. Greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries must be reduced by at least 5% below 1990 levels for the period 2008-2012.
Compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol
Article 18 of the Protocol addresses the need to approve the procedures and mechanisms related to the fulfillment by the Parties of their obligations under the Protocol. These compliance procedures and mechanisms were approved at the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol – Decision 27 / CP.1 – held after its entry into force, in Montreal in December 2005.
A Compliance Committee is created to ensure the Parties’ compliance with the obligations assumed under the Protocol. The Compliance Committee, with twenty members elected by the Parties, is organized into a Plenary, a Table, and two different groups: the Facilitation Group and the Compliance Control Group. The Facilitation Group is responsible for providing support, assistance and advice to the Parties in order to promote compliance, prior to any non-compliance. The Compliance Control Group is responsible for determining whether or not a non-compliance has occurred, and if it determines that it has, it can establish corrective measures for the Parties.
By Royal Decree 376/2001, of April 6 (BOE No. 84, of April 7, 2001) the Spanish Office for Climate Change (OECC) was created as a collegiate body under the General Directorate for Quality and Environmental Assessment of the Ministry of the Environment to develop policies related to climate change.
Royal Decree 1000/2003, of July 25 (BOE No. 178, of July 26, 2003) consolidated its structure and integrated it into the departmental organization as a directive body directly dependent on the then General Secretariat for the Environment, and with organic level of general subdirectorate, current General Secretariat for the Prevention of Pollution and Climate Change, according to Royal Decree 1477/2004 of June 18, on the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Environment.
Due to the rapid development, as well as the growing importance and relevance of policies against climate change and its transcendence at the international, community and national levels, there has been a very significant increase in the activity carried out by the Spanish Office for Climate Change. The forecast is that this circumstance will continue to rise and at a good pace in the coming years, which is why the need to consolidate this body as a General Directorate that allows it to assume greater operational capacity to face new commitments more effectively is based.
The Royal Decree 1334/2006 of 21 November for amending the Royal Decree 1477/2004 , of 18 June, which develops the basic organizational structure of the Ministry of Environment, grants the Spanish Climate Change Office level organic of the General Directorate, becoming the General Directorate of the Spanish Office for Climate Change, which in its sole article establishes its functions and establishes the organs that comprise it.
Under the supervision of the Secretary General for the Prevention of Pollution and Climate Change, the General Directorate of the Spanish Office for Climate Change exercises the following functions:
a) The formulation of the national climate change policy, in accordance with international and community regulations on the matter, as well as the proposal for regulations and the development of planning and administrative instruments that enable compliance with the objectives established by said policy.
b) Exercise the technical and managerial functions of the secretariat of the collegiate bodies in matters of climate change, in particular:
The Interministerial Commission that acts as the Designated National Authority for the mechanisms based on projects of the Kyoto Protocol.
The National Climate Council.
The Commission for the Coordination of Climate Change Policies.
c) Provide advice to the different organs of the General State Administration in matters related to climate change.
d) Collaborate with the Autonomous Communities in the analysis of the repercussions that climate change has on matters within its competence.
e) Promote and carry out information and dissemination activities on climate change, in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
f) Relate with public administrations, non-governmental organizations, public and private institutions and entities and other social agents to collaborate in initiatives aimed at fighting climate change.
g) Relations with the European institutions in matters within its competence.
h) Participation in the representation of the Ministry in international organizations and the monitoring of international agreements in matters within its competence.
i) Analyze and promote research activities on climate change and observation of the climate system.
j) Promote and evaluate activities related to the impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation strategies, as well as coordinate how many plans and programs are developed in these areas.
k) Exercise as a national focal point before the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change.
l) Analyze and promote policies and measures to combat the causes of climate change, as well as to favor sinks.
m) Exercise the functions attributed to the Ministry of the Environment by Law 1/2005, of March 9, which regulates the greenhouse gas emission rights trading regime and, in general, apply the regulations of emissions trading.
n) Exercise any functions attributed by the regulations in relation to the National Registry of Emission Rights, attached to this General Directorate. In particular, it is responsible for the direction of the activity of the Registry, coordination with the competent bodies for the application of Law 1/2005, of March 9, relations with the entity entrusted, where appropriate, its administration and the approval of all acts or resolutions of a legal nature that must support the specific activity of the Registry.
ñ) To exercise any functions attributed by the regulations to the Ministry of the Environment in relation to the monitoring and verification systems for greenhouse gas emissions of the facilities included in the scope of application of Law 1/2005, of March 9.
o) Promote the use of the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol.
The General Directorate of the Spanish Office for Climate Change is made up of the following bodies:
a) General Sub-Directorate for Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies. It is responsible for the functions listed in paragraphs i) to), as well as those related to paragraphs a) to h) regarding adaptation and mitigation strategies.
b) General Sub-Directorate for Emissions Trading and Flexibility Mechanisms. It corresponds to those listed in paragraphs m) to o), and those listed in paragraphs a) to h) regarding emissions trading and flexibility mechanisms.