The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through paragraph 31 “calls for the widest possible international cooperation aimed at accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions and addressing adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change”.

Both paragraph 31 of Agenda 2030 and paragraph 91 of the Future We Want note “the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”.

Prior to the 2030 Agenda and the Future We Want, paragraph 38 under Chapter IV- “Protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development” of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation expresses the concern of Member States for the changes occurred in the Earth’s climate and the adverse effects that these changes have on humankind. In this context, Member States also reaffirm the importance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and their commitment in the achievement of the “ultimate objective of stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner, in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.

In this context, actions identified by the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation are the promotion of the “systematic observation of the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans by improving monitoring stations, increasing the use of satellites and appropriate integration of these observations to produce high -quality data” as well as the “enhancement of the implementation of national, regional and international strategies to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans, including, as appropriate, strategies for integrated global observations, inter alia, with the cooperation of relevant international organizations, especially the specialized agencies, in cooperation with the Convention”.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) fourth session in 1996 held substantive discussions on protection of the atmosphere. CSD fourteenth session in 2006 and fifteenth session in 2007 focused on a cluster of thematic issues, including atmosphere and air pollution.

Protection of the atmosphere is a broad and multidimensional endeavour involving various sectors of economic activity. Many of the issues discussed in Chapter 9 of Agenda 21, on "Protection of the Atmosphere," are also addressed in such international agreements as the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer as amended, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other international, including regional, instruments.

Agenda 21 notes, however, that activities that may be undertaken in pursuit of the objectives of this chapter should be co-ordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty.