The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits States Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (Part I) global warming is taking place and (Part Two) it is extremely likely that man-made CO2 emissions are primarily the cause. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 Parties (Canada withdrew from the Protocol with effect from December 2012)[4] to the Protocol. Developed and developing countries have different roles under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. When drafting the Kyoto Protocol, it was recognized that most of the greenhouse gas pollution currently in the atmosphere comes from developed countries and that most of it comes from a single source – the United States (Figure 17.1). It was felt that it was not right that developing countries, which had done little to create the problem, should be forced to reduce their emissions and perhaps delay their economic growth. As a result, only developed countries have had to accept emission reductions. Countries that were required to reduce their emissions when they agreed to be part of the Kyoto Protocol were listed in Annex 1 to the Protocol and are therefore sometimes referred to as Annex 1 countries. However, as the scientific consensus grew that human activities have a discernible impact on global climate systems and contribute significantly to global warming that could lead to major impacts such as sea level rise, changes in weather patterns, and health impacts – and when it turned out that large countries like the United States and Japan would not reach the objective of voluntary stabilization by the year 2000. The Contracting Parties to the Treaty decided in 1995 that it would be necessary to conclude a legally binding and non-voluntary agreement. Negotiations on a protocol establishing legally binding limits or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have begun.

The Parties decided that this round of negotiations would impose restrictions only on developed countries (the 38 countries listed in Annex I to the UNFCCC, including the former communist countries, and referred to as “Annex I countries”). (Developing countries are referred to as “non-Annex I countries.”) (1) This was referred to as the “Berlin Mandate”, which reflected the maintenance of the principle set out in the UNFCCC that the Parties have “common but differentiated responsibilities” in dealing with climate change issues and that Annex I countries should take initial measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 2 November 1998 – 160 nations meet in Buenos Aires to elaborate the details of the Protocol and develop the “Buenos Aires Plan of Action”. In 2001, a follow-up to the previous meeting (COP6-bis) took place in Bonn[88], where the necessary decisions were taken. After some concessions, the proponents of the protocol (led by the European Union) managed to get the approval of Japan and Russia by allowing greater use of carbon sinks. November 10, 2001 – Representatives from 160 countries meet in Marrakech, Morocco, to prepare the details of the protocol. The protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, when greenhouse gases quickly threatened our climate, life on Earth and the planet itself. Today, the Kyoto Protocol continues in other forms and its issues are still under discussion. Kyoto Protocol, the comprehensive Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty named after the Japanese city where it was adopted in December 1997, which aimed to reduce emissions of gases that contribute to global warming. The protocol, in force since 2005, planned to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases in 41 countries and the European Union by 5.2% compared to 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 “commitment period”.

It has been widely hailed as the most important environmental deal ever negotiated, although some critics have questioned its effectiveness. In addition, the plan mandates the Minister of Energy, in consultation with other key authorities, to “significantly improve the emission reduction register” in order to improve the voluntary emission reduction programme under section 1605(b) of the Energy Policy Act 1992 to improve the accuracy, reliability and verifiability of measurements. Other measures include the provision of protected and transferable emission reduction credits, an increase in total funding of $700 million for climate-related expenditures, and a new management structure to coordinate climate research and technology. National policies such as tax incentives for renewable energy and new technologies, the development of fuel-efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels, and carbon sequestration have also been proposed, as well as several international bilateral initiatives and a relatively modest increase in foreign aid. The protocol defines a “compliance” mechanism as “the monitoring of compliance with obligations and sanctions in the event of non-compliance”. [91] According to Grubb (2003)[92], the explicit consequences of non-compliance with the Treaty are small compared to national law. [92] Nevertheless, the section on compliance with the treaty in the Marrakesh Accords was highly controversial. [92] When IPCC reports indicated that the stabilization objective would not be sufficient to prevent dangerous anthropogenic disruption of the climate system, the parties (governments) to the UNFCCC decided to formulate emission reduction commitments for developed countries in the form of a legal protocol, despite the problems they already had in stabilizing their emissions (e.B. Oberthür & Ott, 1999). Such a protocol to the UNFCCC was agreed in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, which was therefore called the Kyoto Protocol.

If this Protocol is ratified, industrialised countries, individually or jointly, shall reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 % below 1990 levels in the 2008-2012 commitment period (Article 3(1)). Although the Kyoto Protocol was a diplomatic feat, its success was far from certain. In fact, reports from the first two years after the treaty entered into force suggested that most participants would not meet their emissions targets. However, even if the targets were met, the ultimate environmental benefits would not be significant, according to some critics, as China, the world`s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States, the world`s second largest emitter, would not be bound by the protocol (China because of its status as a developing country and the United States because it has not ratified the protocol). Other critics claimed that the emission reductions called for in the protocol were too modest to make a demonstrable difference in global temperatures in the decades that followed, even though they were fully achieved with the participation of the United States. At the same time, some developing countries have argued that improving adaptation to climate variability and change is just as important as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under IMIS, a Party to the Protocol that expects that the development of its economy will not exhaust its Kyoto quota may sell the surplus of its Kyoto quota units (AAUs) to another Party. The proceeds from AAU sales are expected to become “green”, i.e. used for the development and implementation of projects, either in the acquisition of greenhouse gas emission reductions (hard greening) or in the establishment of the necessary framework for this process (soft greening). [50]:25 COP7 was held in Marrakesh from October 29, 2001 to November 9, 2001 to determine the final details of the Protocol.