Kyoto Protocol

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Participation in the Kyoto Protocol      Signed and ratified      Signed, ratification pending      Signed, but not ratified      Non-signatory

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3–14 June 1992. The treaty is intended to achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[1] The Kyoto Protocol establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of four greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride), and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons) produced by "Annex I" (industrialized) nations, as well as general commitments for all member countries. As of 2008, 183 parties have ratified the protocol,[2] which was initially adopted for use on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and which entered into force on 16 February 2005. Under Kyoto, industrialized countries agreed to reduce their collective GHG emissions by 5.2% compared to the year 1990. National limitations range from 8% reductions for the European Union and some others to 7% for the United States, 6% for Japan, and 0% for Russia. The treaty permitted GHG emission increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland.[3]

Kyoto includes defined "flexible mechanisms" such as Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation to allow Annex I economies to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limitations by purchasing GHG emission reductions credits from elsewhere, through financial exchanges, projects that reduce emissions in non-Annex I economies, from other Annex I countries, or from Annex I countries with excess allowances. In practice this means that Non-Annex I economies have no GHG emission restrictions, but have financial incentives to develop GHG emission reduction projects to receive "carbon credits" that can then be sold to Annex I buyers, encouraging sustainable development.[4] In addition, the flexible mechanisms allow Annex I nations with efficient, low GHG-emitting industries, and high prevailing environmental standards to purchase carbon credits on the world market instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions domestically. Annex I entities typically will want to acquire carbon credits as cheaply as possible, while Non-Annex I entities want to maximize the value of carbon credits generated from their domestic Greenhouse Gas Projects.

Among the Annex I signatories, all nations have established Designated National Authorities to manage their greenhouse gas portfolios; countries including Japan, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and others are actively promoting government carbon funds, supporting multilateral carbon funds intent on purchasing Carbon Credits from Non-Annex I countries,[citation needed] and are working closely with their major utility, energy, oil & gas and chemicals conglomerates to acquire Greenhouse Gas Certificates as cheaply as possible.[citation needed] Virtually all of the non-Annex I countries have also established Designated National Authorities to manage the Kyoto process, specifically the "CDM process" that determines which GHG Projects they wish to propose for accreditation by the CDM Executive Board.


[edit] Objectives

Kyoto is intended to cut global emissions of greenhouse gases.

The objective is to achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[1]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100.[5]

Proponents also note that Kyoto is a first step[6][7] as requirements to meet the UNFCCC will be modified until the objective is met, as required by UNFCCC Article 4.2(d).[8]

The treaty was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, opened for signature on 16 March 1998, and closed on 15 March 1999. The agreement came into force on 16 February 2005 following ratification by Russia on 18 November 2004. As of May 2008, a total of 181 countries and 1 regional economic integration organization (the EC) have ratified the agreement (representing over 61.6% of emissions from Annex I countries).[2][9]

According to article 25 of the protocol, it enters into force "on the ninetieth day after the date on which not less than 55 Parties to the Convention, incorporating Parties included in Annex I which accounted in total for at least 55% of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990 of the Parties included in Annex I, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession." Of the two conditions, the "55 parties" clause was reached on 23 May 2002 when Iceland ratified. The ratification by Russia on 18 November 2004 satisfied the "55%" clause and brought the treaty into force, effective 16 February 2005. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ratified the Kyoto protocol on 3 December 2007. This came into effect after 90 days (the end of March 2008), as is stated in the guidelines set by the United Nations.

The five principal concepts of the Kyoto Protocol are:

  • Commitments. The heart of the Protocol lies in establishing commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gases that are legally binding for Annex I countries, as well as general commitments for all member countries.
  • Implementation. In order to meet the objectives of the Protocol, Annex I countries are required to prepare policies and measures for the reduction of greenhouse gases in their respective countries. In addition, they are required to increase the absorption of these gases and utilize all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, the clean development mechanism and emissions trading, in order to be rewarded with credits that would allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home.
  • Minimizing Impacts on Developing Countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change.
  • Accounting, Reporting and Review in order to ensure the integrity of the Protocol.
  • Compliance. Establishing a Compliance Committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.

[edit] Details of the agreement

According to a press release from the United Nations Environment Programme:

"The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 (but note that, compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this limitation represents a 29% cut). The goal is to lower overall emissions of six greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons - averaged over the period of 2008-2012. National limitations range from 8% reductions for the European Union and some others to 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, 0% for Russia, and permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland.[3]

It is an agreement negotiated as an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, which was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992). All parties to the UNFCCC can sign or ratify the Kyoto Protocol, while non-parties to the UNFCCC cannot. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the third session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP3) in 1997 in Beijing, China]].

Most provisions of the Kyoto Protocol apply to developed countries, listed in Annex I to the UNFCCC. Emission figures exclude international aviation and shipping.

[edit] Common but differentiated responsibility

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to a set of a "common but differentiated responsibilities." The parties agreed that:

  1. The largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries;
  2. Per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low, and
  3. The share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs.[10]

In other words, China, India, and other developing countries were not included in any numerical limitation of the Kyoto Protocol because they were not the main contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions during the pre-treaty industrialization period. However, even without the commitment to reduce according to the Kyoto target, developing countries do share the common responsibility that all countries have in reducing emissions.

There will be a mechanism of "compliance", which means a "monitoring compliance with the commitments and penalties for non compliance."[11]

[edit] Financial commitments

The Protocol also reaffirms the principle that developed countries have to pay billions of dollars, and supply technology to other countries for climate-related studies and projects. This was originally agreed in the UNFCCC.

[edit] Emissions trading

Kyoto is a 'cap and trade' system that imposes national caps on the emissions of Annex I countries. On average, this cap requires countries to reduce their emissions 5.2% below their 1990 baseline over the 2008 to 2012 period. Although these caps are national-level commitments, in practice most countries will devolve their emissions targets to individual industrial entities, such as a power plant or paper factory. One example of a 'cap and trade' system is the 'EU ETS'. Other schemes may follow suit in time.

This means that the ultimate buyers of credits are often individual companies that expect their emissions to exceed their quota (their Assigned Allocation Units, AAUs or 'allowances' for short). Typically, they will purchase credits directly from another party with excess allowances, from a broker, from a JI/CDM developer, or on an exchange.

National governments, some of whom may not have devolved responsibility for meeting Kyoto obligations to industry, and that have a net deficit of allowances, will buy credits for their own account, mainly from JI/CDM developers. These deals are occasionally done directly through a national fund or agency, as in the case of the Dutch government's ERUPT programme, or via collective funds such as the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF). The PCF, for example, represents a consortium of six governments and 17 major utility and energy companies on whose behalf it purchases credits.

Since allowances and carbon credits are tradeable instruments with a transparent price, financial investors can buy them on the spot market for speculation purposes, or link them to futures contracts. A high volume of trading in this secondary market helps price discovery and liquidity, and in this way helps to keep down costs and set a clear price signal in CO2 which helps businesses to plan investments. This market has grown substantially, with banks, brokers, funds, arbitrageurs and private traders now participating in a market valued at about $60 billion in 2007.[12] Emissions Trading PLC, for example, was floated on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market in 2005 with the specific remit of investing in emissions instruments.

Although Kyoto created a framework and a set of rules for a global carbon market, there are in practice several distinct schemes or markets in operation today, with varying degrees of linkages among them.

Kyoto enables a group of several Annex I countries to join together to create a market-within-a-market. The EU elected to be treated as such a group, and created the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The EU ETS uses EAUs (EU Allowance Units), each equivalent to a Kyoto AAU. The scheme went into operation on 1 January 2005, although a forward market has existed since 2003.

The UK established its own learning-by-doing voluntary scheme, the UK ETS, which ran from 2002 through 2006. This market existed alongside the EU's scheme, and participants in the UK scheme have the option of applying to opt out of the first phase of the EU ETS, which lasts through 2007[citation needed].

The sources of Kyoto credits are the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) projects. The CDM allows the creation of new carbon credits by developing emission reduction projects in Non-Annex I countries, while JI allows project-specific credits to be converted from existing credits within Annex I countries. CDM projects produce Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), and JI projects produce Emission Reduction Units (ERUs), each equivalent to one AAU. Kyoto CERs are also accepted for meeting EU ETS obligations, and ERUs will become similarly valid from 2008 for meeting ETS obligations (although individual countries may choose to limit the number and source of CER/JIs they will allow for compliance purposes starting from 2008). CERs/ERUs are overwhelmingly bought from project developers by funds or individual entities, rather than being exchange-traded like allowances.

Since the creation of Kyoto instruments is subject to a lengthy process of registration and certification by the UNFCCC, and the projects themselves require several years to develop, this market is at this point largely a forward market where purchases are made at a discount to their equivalent currency, the EUA, and are almost always subject to certification and delivery (although up-front payments are sometimes made). According to IETA, the market value of CDM/JI credits transacted in 2004 was EUR 245 m; it is estimated that more than EUR 620 m worth of credits were transacted in 2005.

Several non-Kyoto carbon markets are in existence or being planned, and these are likely to grow in importance and numbers in the coming years. These include the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Western Climate Initiative in the United States and Canada, the Chicago Climate Exchange and the State of California’s recent initiative to reduce emissions.

These initiatives, taken together may create a series of partly-linked markets, rather than a single carbon market. The common theme across most of them is the adoption of market-based mechanisms centered on carbon credits that represent a reduction of CO2 emissions. The fact that some of these initiatives have similar approaches to certifying their credits makes it conceivable that carbon credits in one market may in the long run be tradeable in other schemes. This would broaden the current carbon market far more than the current focus on the CDM/JI and EU ETS domains. An obvious precondition, however, is a realignment of penalties and fines to similar levels,since these create an effective ceiling for each market.

[edit] Revisions

The protocol left several issues open to be decided later by the sixth Conference of Parties (COP). COP6 attempted to resolve these issues at its meeting in the Hague in late 2000, but was unable to reach an agreement due to disputes between the European Union on the one hand (which favoured a tougher agreement) and the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia on the other (which wanted the agreement to be less demanding and more flexible).

In 2001, a continuation of the previous meeting (COP6bis) was held in Bonn where the required decisions were adopted. After some concessions, the supporters of the protocol (led by the European Union) managed to get Japan and Russia in as well by allowing more use of carbon dioxide sinks.

COP7 was held from 29 October 2001 through 9 November 2001 in Marrakech to establish the final details of the protocol.

The first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP1) was held in Montreal from 28 November to 9 December 2005, along with the 11th conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP11). See United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The 3 December 2007, Australia ratified the protocol during the first day of the COP13 in Bali.

Of the signatories, 36 developed C.G. countries (plus the EU as a party in the European Union)agreed to a 10% emissions increase for Iceland; but, since the EU's member states each have individual obligations,[13] much larger increases (up to 27%) are allowed for some of the less developed EU countries (see below #Increase in greenhouse gas emission since 1990).[14] Reduction limitations expire in 2013.

[edit] Enforcement

If the Enforcement Branch determines that an Annex I country is not in compliance with its emissions limitation, then that country is required to make up the difference plus an additional 30%. In addition, that country will be suspended from making transfers under an emissions trading program.[15]

[edit] Current positions of governments

Carbon emissions from various global regions during the period 1800-2000 AD

[edit] Australia

Australia's new Rudd government elected after the November 2007 election fully supports the protocol[16] and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the instrument of ratification immediately after assuming office on 3 December 2007, just before the meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change;[17] it took effect in March, 2008.[18] When still in Opposition, Kevin Rudd commissioned Professor Ross Garnaut to report into the economic issues of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Garnaut's report was handed to the Australian Government on September 30, 2008. The Rudd Government's position contrasts with the former Australian government, which declined to ratify the Agreement arguing that the protocol would cost Australians jobs,[19] and due to countries with booming economies and massive populations such as China and India not having any reduction obligations. Further, it was claimed that Australia was already doing enough to cut emissions; having pledged $300 million to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions over three years.[citation needed]

Analysis has projected Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions at 109% of the 1990 emissions level over the period 2008–12, calculated including the effects of Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). This is slightly above its 108% Kyoto Protocol limitation. As of 2007, the UNFCCC is reporting that Australia's 2004 greenhouse gas emissions were at 125.6% of 1990 levels, calculated without the LULUCF correction.[20]

The previous Australian Government, along with the United States, agreed to sign the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate at the ASEAN regional forum on 28 July 2005. Furthermore, the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) commenced The NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS).[21] This mandatory greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme commenced on 1 January 2003 and is currently being trialled by the state government in NSW alone. Uniquely this scheme allows Accredited Certificate Providers (ACP) to trade emissions from householders in the state. As of 2006 the scheme is still in place despite the outgoing Prime Minister's clear dismissal of emissions trading as a credible solution to climate change. Following the example of NSW, the National Emissions Trading Scheme (NETS) has been established as an initiative of State and Territory Governments of Australia, all of which have Labor Party governments, except Western Australia.[22] The focus of NETS is to bring into existence an intra-Australian carbon trading scheme and to coordinate policy developments to this end. As the text of the Constitution of Australia,[23] does not refer specifically to environmental matters (apart from water), the allocation of responsibility is resolved at a political level. During the later years of the Howard administration (1996-2007) the Labor governed States took steps to establish a NETS (a) to take action in a field where there were few mandatory federal steps being taken and (b) as a means of facilitating ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the incoming Labor Government.

Greenpeace have called Clause 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol the "Australia Clause", as Australia was the major beneficiary. The clause allows for Annex 1 countries with high rates of land clearing in 1990 to consider that year a base level. Greenpeace argues that Australia had extremely high levels of land clearing in 1990, and that this meant that Australia's "baseline" was unusually high compared to other countries.[24]

[edit] Canada

On 17 December 2002, Canada ratified the treaty that came into force in February 2005, requiring it to reduce emissions to 6% below 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 commitment period. At that time, numerous polls showed support for the Kyoto protocol at around 70%.[25][26] Despite strong public support, there was still some opposition, particularly by the Canadian Alliance, precursor to the governing Conservative Party, some business groups,[27] and energy concerns, using arguments similar to those being used in the U.S.. In particular, there was a fear that since U.S. companies would not be affected by the Kyoto Protocol that Canadian companies would be at a disadvantage in terms of trade. In 2005, the result was limited to an ongoing "war of words", primarily between the Province of Alberta (Canada's primary oil and gas producer) and the federal government. As of 2003, the federal government claimed to have spent or committed 3.7 billion dollars on climate change programmes.[28] By 2004, CO2 emissions had risen to 27% above 1990 levels (which compares unfavorably to the 16% increase in emissions by the United States during that time).[29] By 2006 they were down to 21.7% above 1990 levels[30]

In January 2006, a Conservative minority government under Stephen Harper was elected, who previously has expressed opposition to Kyoto, and in particular to the plan to participate in international emission trading. Rona Ambrose, who replaced Stéphane Dion as the environment minister, has since endorsed some types of emission trading, and indicated interest in international trading.[31] On 25 April 2006, Ambrose announced that Canada would have no chance of meeting its targets under Kyoto, and would look to participate in U.S. sponsored Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. "We've been looking at the Asia-Pacific Partnership for a number of months now because the key principles around [it] are very much in line with where our government wants to go," Ambrose told reporters.[32] On 2 May 2006, it was reported that environmental funding designed to meet the Kyoto standards had been cut, while the Harper government develops a new plan to take its place.[33] As the co-chair of UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi in November 2006, Canada and its government received criticism from environmental groups and from other governments for its climate change positions.[34] On 4 January 2007, Rona Ambrose moved from the Ministry of the Environment to become Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The Environment portfolio went to John Baird, the former President of the Treasury Board.

Canada's federal government has introduced legislation to set mandatory emissions targets for industry, but it will not take effect until 2012, with a benchmark date of 2006 as opposed to Kyoto's 1990. The government has since begun working with opposition parties to improve the legislation.

A private member's bill,[35] was put forth by Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal, aiming to force the government to "ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol." With the support of the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois, and with the current minority situation, the bill passed the House of Commons on 14 February 2007 with a vote of 161-113.[36] The Senate passed the bill and it received Royal Assent on 22 June 2007[37]. However, the Government, as promised, has largely ignored the bill, which was to force the Government 60 days to form a detailed plan of action, citing economic reasons.[38] [39]

In May 2007 Friends of the Earth sued the Canadian federal government for failing to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. This was based on a clause in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that requires Ottawa to "prevent air pollution that violates an international agreement binding on Canada".[40] Canada's obligation to the treaty began in 2008.

Regardless of the national position, some individual provinces are pursuing policies to restrain emissions, including Quebec[41], Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba as part of the Western Climate Initiative.

[edit] People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China's greenhouse gas emissions have increased hugely since the late 20th century. Over the period 1950 to 2002, China’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil sources accounted for only 9.33% of the global total.[citation needed] In 2004 the total greenhouse gas emissions from China were about 54% of the U.S. emissions,[42] but the per-capita level was 3.65 tons, only 33% of that of OECD countries.[43]

Since then, China has been building on average one coal-fired power plant every week, and plans to continue doing so for years.[44] As a result, various estimates see China overtaking the U.S. in total greenhouse emissions some time between 2006 and 2010.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

The country's energy intensity - measured as energy consumption per unit of GDP - was lowered by 47 per cent between 1991 and 2005.[citation needed]

In June 2007, China unveiled a 62-page climate change plan and promised to put climate change at the heart of its energy policies and insisted that developed countries had an “unshirkable responsibility” to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and that the "common but differentiated responsibility" principle, as agreed up in the UNFCCC should be applied.[51][52]

In response to critics of the nation's energy policy, China responded that those criticisms were unjust,[53] while studies of carbon leakage suggest that nearly a quarter of China's emissions result from exports for consumption by developed countries.[54]

[edit] European Union

On 31 May 2002, all fifteen then-members of the European Union deposited the relevant ratification paperwork at the UN. The EU produces around 22% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and has agreed to a cut, on average, by 8% from 1990 emission levels. Denmark has committed itself to reducing its emissions by 21%. On 10 January 2007, the European Commission announced plans for a European Union energy policy that included a unilateral 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020.

The EU has consistently been one of the major nominal supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, negotiating hard to get wavering countries on board.

In December 2002, the EU created an emissions trading system in an effort to meet these tough targets. Quotas were introduced in six key industries: energy, steel, cement, glass, brick making, and paper/cardboard. There are also fines for member nations that fail to meet their obligations, starting at €40/ton of carbon dioxide in 2005, and rising to €100/ton in 2008. Current EU projections suggest that by 2008 the EU will be at 4.7% below 1990 levels.

Transport CO2 emissions in the EU grew by 32% between 1990 and 2004. The share of transport in CO2 emissions was 21% in 1990, but by 2004 this had grown to 28%.

The position of the EU is not without controversy in Protocol negotiations, however. One criticism is that, rather than reducing 8%, all the EU member countries should cut 15% as the EU insisted a uniform target of 15% for other developed countries during the negotiation while allowing itself to share a big reduction in the former East Germany to meet the 15% goal for the entire EU. Also, emission levels of former Warsaw Pact countries who now are members of the EU have already been reduced as a result of their economic restructuring. This may mean that the region's 1990 baseline level is inflated compared to that of other developed countries, thus giving European economies a potential competitive advantage over the U.S.

Both the EU (as the European Community) and its member states are signatories to the Kyoto treaty.
Greece, however was excluded from the Kyoto Protocol on Earth Day (22 April 2008) due to unfulfilled commitment of creating the adequate mechanisms of monitoring and reporting emissions, which is the minimum obligation, and delivering false reports by having no other data to report.

[edit] Germany

Germany has reduced gas emissions by 22.4% between 1990 and 2008.[55] On 28 June 2006, the German government announced it would exempt its coal industry from requirements under the EU internal emission trading system. Claudia Kemfert, an energy professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin said, "For all its support for a clean environment and the Kyoto Protocol, the cabinet decision is very disappointing. The energy lobbies have played a big role in this decision."[56] However, Germany's voluntary commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 21 per cent compared to 1990 levels has to all intents and purposes been met, because emissions have already been reduced by 19 per cent. Germany is thus contributing 75 per cent of the eight per cent reduction promised by the EU [57]

[edit] United Kingdom

The energy policy of the United Kingdom fully endorses goals for carbon dioxide emissions reduction and has committed to proportionate reduction in national emissions on a phased basis. The United Kingdom is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol.

On 13 March 2007, a draft Climate Change Bill was published after cross-party pressure over several years, led by environmental groups. Informed by the Energy White Paper 2003,[58] The Bill aims to put in place a framework to achieve a mandatory 60% cut in the UK's carbon emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), with an intermediate target of between 26% and 32% by 2020.[59] On the 26th November 2008, the Climate Change Act became law setting up a target of 80% reduction over 1990[60]. The United Kingdom is the first country to set up such a long-range and significant carbon reduction target into law.

The UK currently appears on course to meet its Kyoto limitation for the basket of greenhouse gases, assuming the Government is able to curb rising carbon dioxide emissions between now (2007) and the period 2008-2012.[61] Although the UK's overall greenhouse gas emissions have fallen, annual net carbon dioxide emissions have risen by around 2% since The Labour Party came to power in 1997.[61] As a result it now seems highly unlikely that the Government will be able to honour its manifesto pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2010,[61] unless immediate and drastic action is taken under after the passing of the Climate Change Bill.

[edit] France

In 2004, France shut down its last coal mine, and now gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power[62] and therefore has relatively low CO2 emissions.[63]

[edit] Norway

Between 1990 and 2007, Norway's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 12%.[64] As well as directly reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions, Norway's idea for carbon neutrality is to finance reforestation in China, a legal provision of the Kyoto protocol.

[edit] India

India signed and ratified the Protocol in August, 2002. Since India is exempted from the framework of the treaty, it is expected to gain from the protocol in terms of transfer of technology and related foreign investments. At the G8 meeting in June 2005, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointed out that the per-capita emission rates of the developing countries are a tiny fraction of those in the developed world. Following the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, India maintains that the major responsibility of curbing emission rests with the developed countries, which have accumulated emissions over a long period of time. However, the U.S. and other Western nations assert that India, along with China, will account for most of the emissions in the coming decades, owing to their rapid industrialization and economic growth.

[edit] Pakistan

Although at first unwilling, Pakistan's Minister of State for environment Malik Min Aslam convinced the Shaukat Aziz Cabinet to ratify the Protocol. The decision was taken in 2001 but due to international circumstances it was announced in Argentina in 2004 and accepted in 2005, opening the way for the creation of a policy framework. It was expected that the protocol would help Pakistan achieve lower dependence on fossil fuels through the provision of support for renewable energy projects. Although Pakistan was not a big polluter, it was a victim. Global warming had led to 'freak weather' in the country with record breaking cold and heat, resulting in droughts and floods.[citation needed]

[edit] Russia

Vladimir Putin approved the treaty on 4 November 2004 and Russia officially notified the United Nations of its ratification on 18 November 2004. The issue of Russian ratification was particularly closely watched in the international community, as the accord was brought into force 90 days after Russian ratification (16 February 2005).

President Putin had earlier decided in favour of the protocol in September 2004, along with the Russian cabinet,[65] against the opinion of the Russian Academy of Sciences, of the Ministry for Industry and Energy and of the then president's economic adviser, Andrey Illarionov, and in exchange to EU's support for Russia's admission in the WTO.[66] As anticipated after this, ratification by the lower (22 October 2004) and upper house of parliament did not encounter any obstacles.

The Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to a percentage increase or decrease from their 1990 levels. Since 1990 the economies of most countries in the former Soviet Union have collapsed, as have their greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this, Russia should have no problem meeting its commitments under Kyoto, as its current emission levels are substantially below its limitations.

It is debatable whether Russia will benefit from selling emissions credits to other countries in the Kyoto Protocol.[67]

[edit] United States

The United States (U.S.), although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol. The signature alone is symbolic, as the Kyoto Protocol is non-binding on the United States unless ratified. The United States was, as of at least 2005,[citation needed] the largest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.[68] The America's Climate Security Act of 2007, also more commonly referred to in the U.S. as the "Cap and Trade Bill", was proposed for greater U.S. alignment with the Kyoto standards and goals. The current bill is almost 500 pages long, and provides for establishment of a federal bureau of Carbon Trading, Regulation, and Enforcement with mandates which some authorities suggest will amount to the largest tax increase in the history of the United States.[69]

On 25 July 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98),[70][71] which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing nations as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States". On 12 November 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations.[72] The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

The Clinton Administration released an economic analysis in July 1998, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisors, which concluded that with emissions trading among the Annex B/Annex I countries, and participation of key developing countries in the "Clean Development Mechanism" — which grants the latter business-as-usual emissions rates through 2012 — the costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol could be reduced as much as 60% from many estimates. Other economic analyses, however, prepared by the Congressional Budget Office[citation needed] and the Department of Energy[citation needed], Energy Information Administration (EIA),[73] demonstrated a potentially large loss to GDP from implementing the Protocol of up to 4.2% (EIA).

President George W. Bush, did not submit the treaty for Senate ratification, not because he did not support the Kyoto principles, but because of the exemption granted to China (now the world's largest gross emitter of carbon dioxide, although emission is very low per capita[74]). Bush also opposed the treaty because of the strain he believed the treaty would put on the economy; he emphasizes the uncertainties which he believes are present in the climate change issue.[citation needed] Furthermore, the U.S. is concerned with broader exemptions of the treaty. For example, the U.S. does not support the split between Annex I countries and others. Bush said of the treaty:

This is a challenge that requires a 100% effort; ours, and the rest of the world's. The world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is the People's Republic of China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol. India and Germany are among the top emitters. Yet, India was also exempt from Kyoto ... America's unwillingness to embrace a flawed treaty should not be read by our friends and allies as any abdication of responsibility. To the contrary, my administration is committed to a leadership role on the issue of climate change ... Our approach must be consistent with the long-term goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere."[75]

In June 2002, the [United States Environmental Protection Agency] (EPA) released the "Climate Action Report 2002". Some observers have interpreted this report as being supportive of the protocol, although the report itself does not explicitly endorse the protocol.[citation needed] At the G8 meeting in June 2005 administration officials expressed a desire for "practical commitments industrialized countries can meet without damaging their economies". According to those same officials, the United States is on track to fulfill its pledge to reduce its carbon intensity 18% by 2012.[76] The United States has signed the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a pact that allows those countries to set their goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions individually, but with no enforcement mechanism. Supporters of the pact see it as complementing the Kyoto Protocol while being more flexible, but critics have said the pact will be ineffective without any enforcement measures.[citation needed]

The Administration's position is not uniformly accepted in the U.S. For example, Paul Krugman notes that the target 18% reduction in carbon intensity is still actually an increase in overall emissions.[77] The White House has also come under criticism for downplaying reports that link human activity and greenhouse gas emissions to climate change and that a White House official, former oil industry advocate and current Exxon Mobil officer, Philip Cooney, watered down descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists, charges the White House denies.[78] Critics point to the Bush administration's close ties to the oil and gas industries. In June 2005, State Department papers showed the administration thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, including the U.S. stance on Kyoto. Input from the business lobby group Global Climate Coalition was also a factor.[79]

In 2002, Congressional researchers who examined the legal status of the Protocol advised that signature of the UNFCCC imposes an obligation to refrain from undermining the Protocol's object and purpose, and that while the President probably cannot implement the Protocol alone; Congress can create compatible laws on its own initiative.[80]

President Barack Obama has, as yet, taken no action with the senate that would change the position of the United States towards this protocol.

[edit] States and local governments

The Framework Convention on Climate Change is a treaty negotiated between countries at the UN; thus individual states are not free to participate independently within this Protocol to the treaty. Nonetheless, several separate initiatives have started at the level of state or city. Eight Northeastern U.S. states created the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI),[81], a state level emissions capping and trading program, using their own independently-developed mechanisms. Their first allowances were auctioned in November 2008.

On 27 September 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the bill AB 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, establishing a timetable to reduce the state's greenhouse-gas emissions, which rank at 12th-largest in the world, by 25% by the year 2020. This law effectively puts California in line with the Kyoto limitations, but at a date later than the 2008-2012 Kyoto commitment period. Many of the features of the Californian system are similar to the Kyoto mechanisms, although the scope and targets are different. The parties in the Western Climate Initiative expect to be compatible with some or all of the Californian model.

As of 27 July 2008, 850 U.S. cities in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, representing over 80 million Americans support Kyoto after Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle started a nationwide effort to get cities to agree to the protocol.[82] On 29 October 2007, it was reported that Seattle met their target reduction in 2005, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent since 1990.[83]

[edit] Support

Advocates of the Kyoto Protocol state that reducing these emissions is crucially important, as carbon dioxide is causing the earth's atmosphere to heat up. This is supported by attribution analysis.

Most prominent among advocates of Kyoto have been the European Union and many environmentalist organizations. The United Nations and some individual nations' scientific advisory bodies (including the G8 national science academies) have also issued reports favoring the Kyoto Protocol.

An international day of action was planned for 3 December 2005, to coincide with the Meeting of the Parties in Montreal. The planned demonstrations were endorsed by the Assembly of Movements of the World Social Forum.

A group of major Canadian corporations also called for urgent action regarding climate change, and have suggested that Kyoto is only a first step.[84]

In the United States, there is at least one student group, Kyoto Now!, which aims to use student interest to support pressure towards reducing emissions as targeted by the Kyoto Protocol compliance.

[edit] Opposition

Some public policy experts who are sceptical of human-caused global warming see Kyoto as a scheme to either slow the growth of the world's industrial democracies or to transfer wealth to the third world in what these experts claim is a global socialism initiative. Others argue the protocol does not go far enough to curb greenhouse emissions (Niue, The Cook Islands, and Nauru added notes to this effect when signing the protocol).[85]

Some environmental economists have been critical of the Kyoto Protocol.[86][87][88] Many see the costs of the Kyoto Protocol as outweighing the benefits, some believing the standards which Kyoto sets to be too optimistic, others seeing a highly inequitable and inefficient agreement which would do little to curb greenhouse gas emissions.[89] Finally, some economists such as Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner think that an entirely different approach needs to be followed than the approach suggested by the Kyoto Protocol.[90]

Further, there is controversy surrounding the use of 1990 as a base year[citation needed], as well as not using per capita emissions as a basis. Countries had different achievements in energy efficiency in 1990. For example, the former Soviet Union and eastern European countries did little to tackle the problem and their energy efficiency was at its worst level in 1990; the year just before their communist regimes fell. On the other hand, Japan, as a big importer of natural resources, had to improve its efficiency after the 1973 oil crisis and its emissions level in 1990 was better than most developed countries. However, such efforts were set aside, and the inactivity of the former Soviet Union was overlooked and could even generate big income due to the emission trade. There is an argument that the use of per capita emissions as a basis in the following Kyoto-type treaties can reduce the sense of inequality among developed and developing countries alike, as it can reveal inactivities and responsibilities among countries.

[edit] Cost-benefit analysis

Economists have been trying to analyze the overall net benefit of Kyoto Protocol through cost-benefit analysis. There is disagreement due to large uncertainties in economic variables.[91] Some of the estimates indicate either that observing the Kyoto Protocol is more expensive than not observing the Kyoto Protocol or that the Kyoto Protocol has a marginal net benefit which exceeds the cost of simply adjusting to global warming.[citation needed] However, a study by De Leo et al. found that "accounting only for local external costs, together with production costs, to identify energy strategies, compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would imply lower, not higher, overall costs."[92]

The recent Copenhagen consensus project found that the Kyoto Protocol would slow down the process of global warming, but have a superficial overall benefit. Defenders of the Kyoto Protocol argue, however, that while the initial greenhouse gas cuts may have little effect, they set the political precedent for bigger (and more effective) cuts in the future.[93] They also advocate commitment to the precautionary principle. Critics point out that additional higher curbs on carbon emission are likely to cause significantly higher increase in cost, making such defense moot. Moreover, the precautionary principle could apply to any political, social, economic or environmental consequence, which might have equally devastating effect in terms of poverty and environment, making the precautionary argument irrelevant. The Stern Review (a UK government sponsored report into the economic impacts of climate change) concluded that one percent of global GDP is required to be invested in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, and that failure to do so could risk a recession worth up to twenty percent of global GDP.[94]

[edit] Discount rates

One problem in attempting to measure the "absolute" costs and benefits of different policies to global warming is choosing a proper discount rate. Over a long time horizon such as that in which benefits accrue under Kyoto, small changes in the discount rate create very large discrepancies between net benefits in various studies. However, this difficulty is generally not applicable to "relative" comparison of alternative policies under a long time horizon. This is because changes in discount rates tend to equally adjust the net cost/benefit of different policies unless there are significant discrepancies of cost and benefit over time horizon.

It has been difficult to arrive at a scenario under which the net benefits of Kyoto are positive using traditional discounting methods such as the Shadow Price of Capital approach,[95].

[edit] Increase in greenhouse gas emission since 1990

Below is a list of the change in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2004 for some countries that are part of the Climate Change Convention as reported by the United Nations.[96]

Country Change in greenhouse gas
Emissions (1990-2004)
excluding LULUCF
Change in greenhouse gas
Emissions (1990-2004)
including LULUCF
EU Assigned Objective
for 2012
Treaty Obligation 2008-2012
Denmark -19% -22.2% -20% -11%
Germany -17% -18.2% -21% -8%
Canada +27% +26.6% n/a -6%
Australia +25% +5.2% n/a +8%
Spain +49% +50.4% +15% -8%
Norway +10% -18.7% n/a +1%
New Zealand +21% +17.9% n/a 0%
France -0.8% -6.1% 0% -8%
Greece +27% +25.3% +25% -8%
Ireland +23% +22.7% +13% -8%
Japan +6.5% +5.2% n/a -6%
United Kingdom -14% -58.8% -12.5% -8%
Portugal +41% +28.9% +27% -8%
EU-15 -0.8% -2.6% n/a -8%

Below is a table of the changes in greenhouse gas2 emissions of some countries.[97]

Country Change in greenhouse gas
Emissions (1992-2007)
India +103%
China +150%
United States +20%
Russian Federation -20%
Japan +11%
Worldwide Total +38%

Comparing total greenhouse gas emissions in 2004 to 1990 levels, the U.S. emissions were up by 15.8%,[98] with irregular fluctuations from one year to another but a general trend to increase.[99] At the same time, the EU group of 23 (EU-23) Nations had reduced their emissions by 5%.[100] In addition, the EU-15 group of nations (a large subset of EU-23) reduced their emissions by 0.8% between 1990 and 2004, while emission rose 2.5% from 1999 to 2004. Part of the increases for some of the European Union countries are still in line with the treaty, being part of the cluster of countries implementation (see objectives in the list above).

As of year-end 2006, the United Kingdom and Sweden were the only EU countries on pace to meet their Kyoto emissions commitments by 2010. While UN statistics indicate that, as a group, the 36 Kyoto signatory countries can meet the 5% reduction target by 2012, most of the progress in greenhouse gas reduction has come from the stark decline in Eastern European countries' emissions after the fall of communism in the 1990s.[101]

[edit] Successor

In the non-binding 'Washington Declaration' agreed on 16 February 2007, Heads of governments from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa agreed in principle on the outline of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. They envisage a global cap-and-trade system that would apply to both industrialized nations and developing countries, and hoped that this would be in place by 2009.[102][103]

On 7 June 2007, leaders at the 33rd G8 summit agreed that the G8 nations would 'aim to at least halve global CO2 emissions by 2050'. The details enabling this to be achieved would be negotiated by environment ministers within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in a process that would also include the major emerging economies.[104]

A round of climate change talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007) concluded in 31 August 2007 with agreement on key elements for an effective international response to climate change.[105]

A key feature of the talks was a United Nations report that showed how energy efficiency could yield significant cuts in emissions at low cost.

The talks are meant to set the stage for a major international meeting to be held in Nusa Dua, Bali, which started on 3 December 2007.[106]

The 2008 Conference was held in December 2008 in Poznań, Poland. One of the main topics on this meeting was the discussion of a possible implementation of avoided deforestation also known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) into the future Kyoto Protocol. [107]

The 2009 Conference is scheduled to be held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

[edit] Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate

The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is an agreement among seven Asia-Pacific nations: Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Between them, these seven countries are responsible for more than half of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

The partnership had its official launch in January 2006 at a ceremony in Sydney, Australia. The alliance states that member nations have initiated nearly 100 projects aimed at clean energy capacity building and market formation since then[citation needed]. Building on these activities, long-term projects are scheduled to deploy clean energy and environment technologies and services. The pact allows those countries to set arbitrary goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions individually, without any enforcement mechanism for these goals.

Supporters of the pact see it as "complementing the Kyoto Protocol" whilst being more flexible. Critics have said the pact will be ineffective without any enforcement measures and is a means to undermine the negotiations leading to the Protocol scheduled to replace the current Kyoto Protocol (negotiations started in Montreal in December 2005). U.S. Senator John McCain said the partnership "[amounted] to nothing more than a nice little public relations ploy,"[108] while the Economist described the partnership as "patent fig-leaf for the refusal of America and Australia to ratify Kyoto".[109]

[edit] See also

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