The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement between 182 Parties of the UNFCCC. The Kyoto Protocol was agreed upon at the third Conference of the Parties (COP3) in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on February 16th, 2005.
The Protocol was the first international agreement with specific obligations for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gasses. All agreed to reduce their emissions by at least 5% compared to 1990 levels. The United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, despite helping to shape the original agreement. It is felt that without the involvement of the USA, any international agreement is limited in its ability to tackle climate change. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
The protocol set out three market based ‘flexibility mechanisms’ for countries to reduce their emissions:
- Emissions trading: One country can buy a certain number of emissions from another country.
- Joint Implementation (JI): developed counties can receive an ‘emissions reduction unit’ if it helps to finance another developed country’s emission reduction scheme.
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): Developed countries can finance their emission reductions by financing projects in developing countries e.g. solar panel instillations.