Kyoto Protocol

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The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 and is an additional protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It was the first agreement to provide legally binding commitments for developed countries to limit and reduce emissions.

For the Protocol to come into force, a minimum of 55 Parties had to ratify the Convention, collectively accounting for at least 55% of all carbon emissions by industrialised countries (so-called Annex I Parties) in 1990. After a complex ratification process, it came into effect on 16 February 2005. There are presently 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, including all EU members and key developing countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa. The United States of America still not confirmed the Kyoto Protocol. In 2013, Canada withdrew the agreement.

Initially, a commitment period of 2008-2012 was planned. The participating industrial countries committed to reducing their annual GHG emissions by 5.2% compared to 1990 levels within this period. This target did not apply to newly industrialising and developing countries. At the end of the commitment period, the set target was achieved.

After renewed negotiations, targets were set for “Kyoto II”, the second commitment period, which spans from 2013 to 2020. More European countries and Australia participated this time. During this period, the parties committed to reducing their emissions by at least 18% below the levels in 1990. Additionally, the EU states (together with Iceland) set their own 20% reduction target. They also added new rules for developed countries to include emissions from land use and forestry.

In addition to reducing their own emissions, the countries can use three Kyoto mechanisms to reach their climate target:

  • Emission Trading (global trading of emission rights)
  • Joint Implementation (technology development & transfer)
  • Clean Development Mechanism (implementation of measures in developing countries)