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The UNFCCC is the only universal forum that negotiates on climate. It unites all 197 countries – big and small – and each has a voice. However, none has a formal vote and all decisions have to be taken by consensus. Contrary to the rules of procedure of the UN General Assembly, the COP rule regarding voting has never been adopted and continues to harm the process by giving countries an effective veto, therefore limiting debate to the lowest-common-denominator levels of ambition for the sake of consensus. As conveyed by a former high-level official of the UN and diplomat, “the UNFCCC has been weakened by not being allowed to use one of its most important tools, the one to one vote, to adopt more progressive outcomes.” While voting an outcome is a serious matter and should only be used as a last resort, the fact that it is not a possible option remains one of the biggest faults of the UNFCCC.

An adapted version was published on IPI Global Observatory.


Authors: Jimena Leiva Roesch and Eimer Curtin
Roundtable: Climate Governance
Year: 2022