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The Kyoto Protocol

What is the Kyoto Protocol?

The Kyoto Protocol is an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

When did it come in to force?

The Kyoto Protocol came into force on 16th February 2005. It was originally created in 1990.

Which countries have ratified Kyoto?

180 different countries around the world have already ratified Kyoto with Australia being one of the most recent to do it in 2007. To date the only major country that has not become a member of it is the United States.

Who administers the Kyoto Protocol?

The Kyoto Protocol is administered and regulated by an international treaty linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Most countries within the UNFCCC joined the treaty and ratified Kyoto over a decade ago.

Background on Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol is an internationally and legally binding agreement. The major feature of it is to set binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The reductions amount to an average of 5% against 1990 emission levels over the five year period from 2008‐2012. The main difference between the Protocol and the Convention is that the Convention encourages industrialised countries to stabilise their emissions whereas the Protocol commits them to actually do it.

The Protocol has also been designed to burden the more established and industrialised countries with higher emission targets (reductions) as they have been the one's who have contributed the most over the last 150 years.

The 3 Kyoto Mechanisms

Once a country has joined the treaty and ratified the Kyoto Protocol they have committed to reduce their GHG emissions. The Kyoto Protocol offers its members three different mechanisms to help meet there targets. These are known as;

  1. Emissions Trading
  2. The Clean Development Mechanism (CMD)
  3. Joint Implementation (JI)

1. Emissions Trading

One of the mechanisms within Kyoto is a emissions trading framework. It allows for an industrialised country to express its allowed emissions or assigned amounts within the treaty as 'assigned amount units' (AAUs). As a result countries that have unused units can then trade them with other countries who have surpassed their own allowances and require additional units. Since carbon dioxide is the principle GHG, most people now refer to it as trading carbon within a carbon market.

2. The Clean Development Mechanism (CMD)

The Clean Development Mechanism allows industrialised countries to meet their emission targets/levels through investment and/or co‐operation in a emission reduction project in a non industrialised country or developing country. This gives industrialised countries greater flexibility in terms of the best way that they can meet their overall targets.

3. Joint Implementation (JI)

The mechanism known as Joint Implementation allows for emission reduction units (ERUs) to be earned by one industrialised country from a project in another industrialised country. An example of this may be the sharing of new technology and/or foreign investment in a emissions reduction project.

The Information listed above has come from the www.unfccc.int website.

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