The Kyoto Protocol Summary

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Smoke and smogThe Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan on the 11th of December, 1997, but not enacted or enforced until the 16th of February, 2005. The protocol was adopted to help combat the adverse effects of climate change, or global warming. The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), an international environmental treaty, states the goal of the Kyoto Protocol as the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

To help our readers understand just how important the Kyoto Protocol is to our planet and our future generations, we’re going to provide a summary of the Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto Protocol Summary

The essence of the Kyoto Protocol is that it calls for nations to commit themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As of November 2009, 187 states have signed and ratified the protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol and the United States

The United States’ position on the Kyoto Protocol has been a subject of controversy and frustration amongst the international community. Primarily because, despite being a member of the UNFCCC, the U.S., while having signed the protocol in 1998, has to this day not ratified it. That basically means that while showing support for the protocol, the U.S. will not be held responsible if its emissions targets are not met. It’s sad for one of the most advanced and developed nations on the planet, to which many other countries look up to, fail to provide an example during such a crucial phase of our stay on Earth.

Why Has the U.S. Not Ratified Kyoto?

So the question begs, why has the United States not ratified the Kyoto Protocol? It turns out that the Senate felt developing nations should be included, in addition to developed nations, with fixed targets and timetables. Without this requirement, the U.S. felt its economy would be put in jeopardy. The Clinton administration found that the contribution of developing nations to the protocol could reduce its cost by as much as 60%.

Kyoto Protocol estimates indicate loss in GDP. The problem the U.S. has with not including developing nations is the increase in cost of implementing the protocol. According to estimates, in its current incarnation adherence to carbon reduction targets by the U.S. would lead to predicted losses in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of between 1 and 4.2% by this year, and 1/2 to 2% by 2020.

Ratification or not, the bottom line is it’s important for us to reduce emissions and the harmful pollution of our environment by excess carbon dioxide and other gases.

The Goal: Reduction of 4 Greenhouse Gases

The Kyoto Protocol’s main goal is to reduce the presence of 4 harmful greenhouse gases (GHG’s):

  1. Carbon Dioxide
  2. Methane
  3. Nitrous Oxide
  4. Sulphur Hexafluoride

These gases belong into two groups, both of which are being targeted by the protocol:

  1. Hydrofluorocarbons
  2. Perfluorocarbons

The goal is to reduce emissions by 5.2%, compared to 1990 levels. That doesn’t sound unreasonable to us, especially considering that shipping and international aviation emissions are not included in that percentage.

Carbon Credits

In addition, ratifiers of the Kyoto Protocol can purchase carbon credits to help offset their emissions. But that’s a discussion for another article entirely. We hope you enjoyed our Kyoto Protocol summary. Comment below with questions and stay tuned to Earth’s Friends for more!

About The Author:

Alex loves nature and does his best to take care of the planet. He doesn't take for granted the serenity that can be found in the stillness of an ancient forest, or the majestic power of the ocean's large waves as they crash on an isolated island shoreline. He wants to raise awareness for how simple it can be to make a couple changes in your everyday life that can make a huge difference for the environment in the long term.

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