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legal institutional and policy frameworks for combatting global warming in Cameroon

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Global warming which could be long defined as, an increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels.[1] It is not until 1950s that global warming first found its way into the public agenda following the fact that temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere reached early-twentieth-century peaks.[2] Concerns were expressed in both the scientific and popular press about rising sea levels, loss of habitat, and shifting agricultural zones. Amid the myriad mechanisms that could possibly account for climate changes, several scientists, notably G.S. Callendar, Gilbert Plass, Hans Suess, and Roger Revelle, focused on possible links between anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, the geochemical carbon cycle, and climate change.[3] Upon conducting research, it was identified that there existed a number of gases termed greenhouse gases which have the property of absorbing infrared radiation (net heat energy) emitted from the sun, redirecting it to the earth surface, thus contributing to the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse effect is the problem caused by increased quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases trap the heat from the sun and cause a gradual rise in temperature of the earth. Some of these gases identified include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons, perflourocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.[4]

By the late 1980s, there was significant international concern at the possibility that emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide resulting from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, were producing or significantly contributing to a process of global warming.

On 9th November, 1988, a conference of experts from 35 countries met in Geneva under the joint auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization and agreed to establish an Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel had three objectives

  • The evaluation of the scientific evidence on global warming
  • The assessment of the environmental and agricultural impact of climate change and
  • The formulation of responses to the situation.[5]

Since the creation of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, there has been a growing consensus at both the scientific and political levels that global warming is occurring, that it is to some significant degree driven by human activities and that such warming is unacceptable, taking into consideration its unpredictable consequences.[6]

In 1990, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change issued its first report. The report was to the effect that, if States continue to act the way they did, with little or no regards for global warming and its undesirable repercussions, the global temperature will raise in the next century by an average of 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade- a rate of change that has never been encountered before in human history.[7]The reports of the panel caused an acknowledgment of the need to adopt a Climate Change Convention.

The process of adopting a Climate Change Convention was poised with a dilemma. While some States were in favour of an exhaustive umbrella legislative instrument (an equivalent to the United nations Convention on the Law of the Sea- UNCLOS); Law of the Atmosphere, others were in favour of the creation of a legislative apparatus similar to the Ozone Regime. That is, in the latter case, a framework convention will be followed by protocols that will increasingly toughen the commitments of States parties and impose more demanding timetables. Eventually, the second approach was endors=ed because States were apprehensive of the long negotiating cycles suggested by the UNCLOS negotiating process.[8]

In that regards, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was negotiated and adopted on 9th May, 1992. It became open for signature from 3rd to 14th June, 1992, and subsequently entered into force on 21st March, 1994 after a sufficient number of countries (fifty countries) had ratified it.  It is worthy of note that African States, including Cameroon, also took part in the negotiation of this Framework Convention.[9]The adoption of a Framework Convention was followed by a protocol that set up specific targets and timetables for reducing specific greenhouse gases, and that is the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol adopted in December 1997, aims at reducing the emission of gasses that contributed to global warming.[10]The protocol was adopted as the first addition to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that committed its signatories to develop national programs to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide just to name a few. Affected the energy balance of the global atmosphere in ways expected to lead to an overall increase in average global temperature known as global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by United Nations Environmental Programme and the Meteorological Organization in 1988,the long term effect of global warming will include a general rise in sea level around the world , resulting in the inundation of some island states; the melting of glaciers, sea ice, and Arctic permafrost; an increase in the number of extreme climate related events, such as floods and droughts, and change in their distribution; and an increased risk of extinction for 20 to 30 percent of all plant and animal species.

The Kyoto Protocol committed most of the annex I signatories to the UNFCCC (consisting of members of the organisation for economic co-operation and development and several countries with “economies in transition”) to mandatory emission reduction-reduction targets, which varied depending on the unique circumstances of each country.

Other signatories to the UNFCCC and the protocol, consisting mostly of developing countries, were not required to restrict their emissions. The protocol entered into force in February 2005, 90 days after being ratified by at least 55 Annex I signatories (Cameroon Annex I) that together account for at least 55 percent in 1990.The protocol provided several means for countries to reach their targets. One approach was to make use of natural processes, called “sinks,” that removed greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The planting of tress, which take up carbon dioxide from the air, would be an example. Another approach was the international program called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which encouraged developed countries to invest in technology and infrastructure in less-developed countries, where there were often significant opportunities to reduce emission.[11] Under the CDM, the investing country could claim the effective reduction in emission as a credit toward meeting its obligations under the protocol. An example would be an investment in a clean burning natural gas power plant to replace a proposed coal-fired plant. A third approach was emissions trading, which allowed participating countries to buy and sell emission rights and thereby place an economic value on greenhouse gas emission. Countries that failed to meet their emission targets would be required to make up the difference between their targeted and actual emissions, plus a penalty amount of 30 percent, in the subsequent commitment period, beginning in 2012; they would also be prevented from engaging in emissions trading until they were judge to be in compliance with the protocol.[12] The emission targets for commitment periods after 2012 were to be established in future protocols.

The protocol had the following shared the same objective with the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was, ‘the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’[13]

At the 18th conference of the parties held in Doha, Qatar, in 2012, delegates agreed to extent the Kyoto protocol until 2020. They also reaffirmed their pledge from COP17, which had been held in Durban, South Africa, in2011, to create a new, comprehensive, legally binding climate treaty by 2015 that would require greenhouse –gas-producing countries – including major carbon emitters not abiding by the Kyoto protocol (such as China, USA, and India) to limit and reduce their emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The new treaty planned for 2020, would fully replace the Kyoto protocol.

After a series of conferences mired in disagreement, held in Paris, France, in 2015, signed a global but nonbinding agreement to limit the increase of the world’s average temperature to no more than 2oC  (3.6oF) above pre-industrial levels while at the same time striving to keep this increase to 1.50C (2.70F) above preindustrial levels. The landmark accord, signed by all 196 signatories of the UNFCCC, effectively replaced the Kyoto protocol and was called the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It was adopted in 2016 and ratified by Cameroon on 29thy July, 2016.[14]




It is important to note that, since the publication of the first report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990, States have taken a number of steps to combat climate change. These steps include the adoption of treaties and other domestic laws aimed at combatting climate change.

It is worthy of note that Cameroon is not an exclusion when considering States that have shown interest in combatting climate change. She has ratified international instruments that aim at combatting climate change, particularly the Kyoto Protocol of 1998 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change of 2016.[15] Under the above agreements, Cameroon has been classified as a Non-Annex I Party. That is, countries which are encouraged to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, to corporate on research and technology and to protect sinks, but are not bound by other obligations like the annex I and II countries. They do not have legally binding emissions reductions targets like Annex I and II Parties.[16]

In a bid to preserve her forests to serve as sinks, Cameroon has passed laws aimed at protecting the certain forests, especially Law Number 94/01 of 20th January, 1994 to laydown Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Regulations and Law Number 96/12 of 5th August, 1996 relating to Environment Management. Sinks can be defined as forests that absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide emitted.[17]

However, there is a problem with the application of these laws. Despite their existence and goal of protecting the forest, they have witnessed certain violations as cases of breaches are often times heard. Even though these laws exist, reports of forest depletion in Cameroon are not strange.[18]

The problem of lack of implementation of the law can be attributed to lack of awareness of the existing laws in that field. This serves as a major blow to the effective application of these anti-climate change regimes in Cameroon.



1.3.1. General Research Question

To what extent are legal institutional and policy frameworks for combatting global warming in Cameroon effective?

1.3.2. Specific research questions

  • What is global warming, its causes and effects?
  • What are the legal, institutional and policy frameworks in the combats of Global Warming in Cameroon?
  • How effective are the legal, institutional policy frameworks in Cameroon?
  • What possible policy recommendation can be made to improve on the fight against global warming in Cameroon?


1.4.1. General Research Objectives

To discuss the legal and institutional policy framework for combatting global warming in Cameroon

1.4.2. Specific research objectives

  • To expatiate on the concept of global warming, its causes and effect in Cameroon
  • To expatiate on the legal, institutional and policy frameworks for combatting global warming in Cameroon
  • To assess the effectiveness of the legal and institutional policy frameworks in combatting global warming in Cameroon
  • To make possible policy recommendations of the anti –global warming regimes in Cameroon.


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