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Kyoto Protocol
Aims:

  • Establish a system for international cooperation to obtain a coherent response to global change issues.
  • Start the process of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Start a system for possible trade in emissions, and cooperation between rich and poor countries in joint implementation systems and "Clean Development Mechanisms".

Objective: Reduce global GHG emissions by 5.2% below 1990 level by 2012.

  1. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
    The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .
    These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008 to 2012.
    The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.
    Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities
  1. The carbon market - Cap and trade
    Parties with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Parties) have accepted targets for limiting or reducing emissions. These targets are expressed as levels of allowed emissions, or "assigned amounts," over the commitment period between 2008 to 2012. The allowed emissions are divided into "assigned amount units" (AAUs).

    Emissions trading, as set out in Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, allows countries that have emission units to spare - emissions permitted them but not "used" - to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets.
    Thus, a new commodity was created in the form of emission reductions or removals.
    Since carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas, people speak simply of trading in carbon.
    Carbon is now tracked and traded like any other commodity.
    This is known as the "carbon market." - The system is popularly called 'Cap and trade'.
  1. Globally, emissions may have to be reduced, the scientists are telling us, by as much as 60% or 70%, with developed countries likely to have to make even bigger cuts if we're going to allow the developing world to have their share of growing industrial prosperity
    ...The Kyoto Protocol is only the first rather modest step.
    Much, much deeper emissions reductions will be needed in future.
    The political implications are mind-blowing."
    Michael Meacher, UK Environment minister Nov. 2000

    "There is a broad agreement within the scientific community that amplification of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect by the buildup of various gases introduced by human activity has the potential to produce dramatic changes in climate.
    Only by taking action now can we ensure that future generations will not be put to risk".
    Statement by 49 Nobel prize winners and 700 members of the National Academy of sciences 1990.
  1. Criticism
    To obtain the over 60% reduction deemed necessary by IPCC, "more than 30 Kyoto protocols have to be implemented".
    The reduction obtained through the protocol is marginal.
    But if an international efficient system for reduction of emissions is established by 2012, the objective of the Kyoto protocol is just a very modest beginning.

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