Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol set binding targets for parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Subsequent meeting of the parties began to address the consequence of reluctance to meet the targets.

The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted on December 11, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, came into force on February 16, 2005. The explicit rules for carrying out the Protocol were adopted in Marrakech in 2001. The Protocol was signed by 37 industrialized countries and the European Union.

The UNFCCC was created at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. It was attended by between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals from 178 governments, non-governmental organizations, and the media.

The UNCED produced Agenda 21, an international plan of action for achieving sustainable development, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The Declaration's 27 non-binding principles include the "polluter pays" principle, that remedial costs be paid by polluters, the precautionary principle, that even acts which present an uncertain risk of a major catastrophe were prohibited, and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which anticipates different roles for different states. These are central to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol.

The UNFCCC was signed by more than 180 governments. They agreed to prevent GHG emissions that would interfere dangerously with the ecosystem. It divided countries into groups listed in Annexes 1 and 2. Annex 1 parties are the worst industrial polluters. The UNFCCC required that by 2000, they should have capped their GHG emissions at 1990 levels (Article 4). They did not achieve that target. There are 23 Annex II countries that are classified as developed countries that pay for the costs of the developing countries. Setting emission reduction commitments is referred to as benchmarking. Participating countries are required to supply up-to-date details of GHG emissions on a regular basis. These are used to create the targets for emission reductions.

The operation of the Convention is supported by The United Nations Secretariat based in Haus Carstanjen, Bonn. The Secretariat and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sought to promote consensus amongst participating UNFCCC parties. To this end, the UNFCCC created two permanent and two temporary subsidiary bodies:

• The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)

• The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)

• An Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)

• An Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention. (AWG-LCA)

Since the UNFCCC came into force, Conferences of the Parties (COP) have met once every year. Meetings are held in conjunction with Meetings of the Kyoto Protocol Parties, which non-Protocol members can attend as observers.

The Kyoto Protocol was expected to be finalized in November 1998 at Buenos Aires. The parties adopted a 2-year "Plan of Action" to advance efforts and to devise mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000. In 2000, the COP still failed to cement an agreement but in 2001, the Marrakech Accords were finally agreed by the requisite number of countries to bring the Protocol into force. COP 11, in 2005 in Montreal, was the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1) to the Kyoto Protocol, marking its coming into force. The Montreal Action Plan was agreed which extended the life of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date.

The Kyoto Protocol set clear mandatory targets, known as the assigned amount, covering maximum emissions of six major GHGs:

• Carbon dioxide(CO2);

• Hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs);

• Methane(CH4);

• Nitrous oxide(N2O);

• Perfluorocarbons(PFCs); and

• Sulphur hexafluoride(SF6).

A major issue impeding implementation of the Protocol is the financial burden on developing countries. Delegates to the 2008 COP/MOP in Poznan, Poland agreed on principles for the financing of a fund to help the poorest nations cope with the effects of climate change.

The 2010 COP and MOP in Cancún coincided with the 2010 UNFCCC and meetings of the permanent and temporary subsidiary bodies. Participants agreed to create a "Green Climate Fund" by 2020. This would give poorer countries access to up to $100 billion a year to finance emission adaptations and reductions. Participants did not reach agreement over how the funding for the "Green Climate Fund" would be raised. They were able to agree to the creation of a "Climate Technology Center" and network. There was also consensus about the importance of Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and the need to provide incentives and resources to developing countries for REDD.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming
David G. Victor.
Princeton University Press, 2001
The Effect of the Kyoto Protocol on Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Kumazawa, Risa; Callaghan, Michael S.
Journal of Economics and Finance, Vol. 36, No. 1, January 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Qualifying Kyoto: A Warming Climate and a Heated Debate
Hathaway-Zepeda, Taylor.
Harvard International Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, Spring 2004
Does the Kyoto Protocol Cost Too Much and Create Unbreakable Barriers for Economic Growth?
Golub, Alexander; Markandya, Anil; Marcellino, Dominic.
Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 24, No. 4, October 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Kyoto Protocol and the WTO: Integrating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Allowance Trading into the Global Marketplace
Petsonk, Annie.
Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Vol. 10, No. 1, Fall 1999
Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making
Scott Barrett.
Oxford University Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Global Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol"
Hot Air over Kyoto: The United States and the Politics of Global Warming. (Environment)
Wirth, Timothy E.
Harvard International Review, Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter 2002
A Game of Climate Chicken: Can EPA Regulate Greenhouse Gases before Nthe U.S. Senate Ratifies the Kyoto Protocol?
Bugnion, Veronique; Reiner, David M.
Environmental Law, Vol. 30, No. 3, Summer 2000
The Economics of Climate Change
Anothony D. Owen; Nick Hanley.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Economics of the Kyoto Protocol"
The Kyoto Protocol Just a Lot of Hot Air?
Schmidt, Charles W.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 108, No. 8, August 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Environmental Markets: Equity and Efficiency
Graciela Chichilnisky; Geoffrey Heal.
Columbia University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "A Commentary on the Kyoto Protocol"
The Environmental Debate: A Documentary History
Peninah Neimark; Peter Rhoades Mott.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Document 142: United Nations Convention (1992) and Protocol (1997) on Climate Change" begins on p. 273
The Global Warming Tragedy and the Dangerous Illusion of the Kyoto Protocol
Gardiner, Stephen M.
Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 1, April 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Inter-Linkages: The Kyoto Protocol and the International Trade and Investment Regimes
W. Bradnee Chambers.
United Nations University Press, 2001
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator