Development of the international climate politics to reduce the emission of human based greenhouse gases and status quo of the emission reduction measures

Research Paper (undergraduate) 2009 35 Pages

Environmental Sciences









2.1 Historical development
2.2 Burden sharing
2.3 Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol
2.4 Kyoto Mechanism
2.4.1 Clean Development Mechanism
2.4.2 Joint Implementation
2.4.3 Emission Trading

3.1 Basic information
3.2 The Cap & trade system
3.3 The EU ETS phases
3.3.1 Phase I (2005-2007)
3.3.2 Phase II (2008-2012)
3.3.3 Phase III (2012-2020)

4.1 The worldwide trend for carbon dioxide emissions
4.2 The development in the European Union
4.3 Development in Germany







Today the head of states of most countries are aware of the fact that the human-based greenhouse effect is one of the main reasons for global warming and the melting of the ice at the poles. Furthermore they have realized that this will lead to more natural catastrophes, than have already occurred.

The scope of the present assignment is to point out what the international climate politics for reducing the human-based greenhouse effect and what is the status quo of emission reduction measures are.

Therefore chapter one highlights the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect and which gases trigger it. Especially the carbon dioxide emissions lead to an increased warming of the earth with an amount of 9-26 per cent. The main cause for the greenhouse effect with approximately 50 per cent is the burning of fossil energy sources like petrol or wood.

Chapter two characterizes the development of international climate politics. Beginning in the year 1979 at the first world climate summit a worldwide binding climate protection was first passed in December 1997 when the United Nations established a protocol at the Nations Conference in Kyoto which has the aim to “stabilize the amount of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”1. The protocol establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gases. So far 183 states have ratified the protocol. Furthermore three different Kyoto Mechanisms will be explained, that are to help to achieve the agreed climate goals.

One of these mechanisms is Emission Trading that is used on the one hand on national level within the Kyoto Protocol and on the other hand on company level. The use on company level is implemented in the European Union Emission Trading System that will be described in chapter three. By using a cap & trade system the governments of the participant countries try to create incentives for selected sectors to reduce their emission level. This is supposed to be realized by a continuously lowered cap for produced emissions. This lowering is divided in three main phases. The first phase from 2005 to 2007 was a testing phase which covered ~ 50 per cent of the national CO2 emissions. The second phase from 2008 to 2012 reduces the emission allowances and includes other greenhouse gases. The third phase will start in 2013 and will again reduce the emission limits and other sectors such as aviation and shipping will most probably be included. In this phase there will be no more free allowances.

Chapter four will describe the status quo of the international emission reduction measures. However, it becomes clear that all nations, especially the USA, must take part in effort to solve problems of the greenhouse effect. Germany can serve as role model because they were able to reduce their emissions in the year 2007 by 20.3 per cent in relation to 1990.

This assignment will finish with a summary of the results in chapter five.


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Figure 1: Ranking of gases that boost the greenhouse effect

Figure 2: Emissions reduction goals in EU-27

Figure 3: World map with the current status of member of the Kyoto Protocol

Figure 4: EU cap targets from 2005 to 2020


Table 1: Worldwide energy induced CO2 emissions from 1990 until 2007 in selective countries

Table 2: Greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions in the EU-27 from 1990 until 2007

Table 3: Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany from 1990 until 2007

Table 4: Worldwide green house gas emissions from 1990 until 2007 in selective countries


In the last century our world climate has changed noticeably. Drought periods, inundations as well as other natural disasters like hurricanes or tsunamis arisen even more frequently than centuries before. The sea levels have increased by approximately 10-25 cm in the last hundred years as an effect of global warming and the melting of the ice at the poles.2 The most influential factor for this warming is the green house effect whose two main reasons are the human-based green house effect and natural reasons the humans have no influence on.3

The natural occurring leads to a constant temperature level at an average of 15° Celsius on earth and is a result of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere such as H2O (water vapor), CH4 (methane), N2O (nitrous oxide), O3 (ozone) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) which avoids the reflection of ray of sunlight back into space and provide thus for heating up the planet.4

Due to the increasing permeation of technology in our society and industrialization, a big amount of emissions has been produced over the last decades. In addition to this the destroying of the tropical rain forests lead to a higher amount of green house gases in the atmosphere.

This human-based greenhouse effect is caused by the pollution from the burning of fossil sources of energy of approximately 50 per cent, through direct emissions, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), halogens and other trace gases with a share of 20 per cent, the destruction of the tropical forests with 15 per cent just as agriculture and its trace gases.5

The ranking of the gases that boost the greenhouse effect is illustrated in figure 1.

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Figure 1: Ranking of gases that boost the greenhouse effect6

In the context of this assignment the worldwide climate protection politics for the reduction of the human-based greenhouse effect and especially the carbon dioxide as the second biggest share of greenhouse gases will be described. It will be explained, how the negotiated emission reduction goals of the Kyoto Protocol have developed and with which mechanism the given goals can be achieved. The emission trading plays a large role in the emission reduction policy. The impact of the emission trading and the so- called cap & trade system is pointed out and the different phases are described. This assignment ends with a view on the current status of emission reduction goals worldwide, in the EU and in Germany.


The Kyoto Protocol is the basis of the worldwide climate protection. This paragraph will describe the historical development until the Kyoto Protocol was approved. Furthermore the sharing of burdens regarding to the emission reduction goals and the three different Kyoto Mechanisms will be defined.

2.1 Historical development

The first world climate summit of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) took place in Geneva in 1979 and appealed to the heads of states to counteract the perceivable risk of climate pollution. At this point it was clear that only a collective act can lead to a success of climate protection.7

In June 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) took place in Rio de Janeiro. This was the biggest environmental meeting of heads of states up to then and many contracts for climate protection were agreed on by the participating nations. One of these settlements was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is the basic framework for the later Kyoto Protocol.8

The UNFCCC defined the binding offer to avoid dangerous and humanly caused interference into the climate system of the earth. This agreement was ratified by 200 countries and came into effect on the 21st March 1994. In order to reach the defined goals, the UNFCC intended to arrange additional agreements and protocols. These were to contain explicit aims for climate protection and the dynamic adjustments were to be accomplished yearly at the Conference of Parties (COP).9

In April 1995 the first UN climate conference, the so-called COP-1 took place in Berlin. At this conference the participating countries agreed upon the “Berlin Mandate”. This mandate defined a workgroup which was supposed to arrange climate goals for the reduction of emissions. Already at this point the developing and emerging countries were excluded from the reduction goals.10

At the COP-2 in Geneva in 1996 the reduction of the three greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane was suggested.

But it was not until December 1997 at the COP-3 in Kyoto when a protocol of the “Berlin Mandate” workgroup was approved by the Annex 1 states.11 The Kyoto Protocol set binding targets for 39 industrialized countries and postulated the reduction of emissions of six green house gases by 5.2 per cent in relation to the level of 1990 over the five-year period of 2008-2012. The aforementioned so-called Kyoto gases are CH4 (methane), N2O (nitrous oxide), CO2 (carbon dioxide), partially halogenated hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HFC), per fluorinated compound (PFC) as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).12

The Kyoto Protocol is a binding agreement, meaning that the Annex 1 states are committed to their emission limit. However, no penalties were agreed at this point.13

2.2 Burden sharing

Not every country in the EU has to reduce the emissions by the same amount, as it was considered not to be a fair allocation among the states. The countries vary in too many aspects, like the gross domestic product (GDP) per head, infrastructure, technological or economic aspects, so that the EU member states have agreed on the so-called burden sharing.14

The former 15 European Union member states agreed to reduce their total emissions by 8 per cent in relation to 1990. The fragmentation of the burdens within the EU-27 member states is displayed in figure 2.

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Figure 2: Emissions reduction goals in EU-27

For example Germany has contracted an emissions reduction of all six Kyoto gases by 21 per cent in relation to the level of 1990 over the five-year period of 2008-2012.

2.3 Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol

As it was necessary that more than 55 per cent of the world´s countries with more than 55 per cent of overall emissions have to accept the Kyoto Protocol, it did not directly come into effect until 1997. Finally it only entered into force on 16 February 2006 the protocol entered into force, after Russia with its 17 per cent share of worldwide emissions had ratified the protocol after hard negotiations.16 In figure 3 a world map with the current member states is displayed.

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Figure 3: World map with the current status of member of the Kyoto Protocol17

So far 183 countries have ratified the protocol (marked green). Australia only recently ratified the protocol in 2007. At the moment the ratification of Kazakhstan is still pending (marked yellow). The grey marked countries have accepted the protocol, but are not willing to ratification. The USA with 36 per cent of the worldwide carbon dioxide emission is the only nation which has rejected to ratify the Kyoto Protocol due to economic reasons (marked red).18

2.4 Kyoto Mechanism

In order to reach the defined goal, the Kyoto Protocol provides three mechanisms. They are optional and are based on the idea that the pollution of the environment is not a hot spot problem. Thus it does not depend on where emissions will be reduced. With the help of these flexible instruments it is supposed to achieve a reduction of emissions in a more cost-efficient way.

2.4.1 Clean Development Mechanism

Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol defines the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). According to this article an Annex 1 country is able to implement an emission-reduction project in a developing country. An example for this procedure is if Germany invests in a water plant in China. This leads to a reduction of emissions in China and Germany can earn Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) in return. Often way of proceeding is cheaper for Annex 1 countries than investing money in their own country in order to reduce the same amount of emissions.19

2.4.2 Joint Implementation

The Joint Implementation (JI) is defined by Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol. It is similar to the CDM, but with it an Annex 1 country can implement an emission reduction or removal projects in another Annex 1 state. The certificates in the form of Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs) are handed over to the Annex I state. For example if Germany finances wind power station in Russia this emission reduction can also be taken into account. Apart from the emission reduction, for example the infrastructure in the formerly communist economy can be advanced at the same time.20


1 Cf. UNFCC(2009a)

2 Cf. Harms, G. (2006)

3 Cf. Kellermann, B. (2004)

4 Cf. Treibhauseffekt (2009)

5 Cf. Umweltbundesamt (2009)

6 Cf. Klimaretter (2007)

7 Cf. Zenke, I. and Schäfer, R. (2009), p.106.

8 Cf. UNFCC (2009a)

9 Cf. UNFCC (2009b)

10 Cf. Schiffer, H-W. (2008), p.449.

11 Annex 1 are industrialized countries, for more details see UNFCCC(2009c)

12 Cf. Schiffer, H-W. (2008), p.451-452.

13 Cf. Schiffer, H-W. (2008), p.450.

14 Cf. Schiffer, H-W. (2008), p.461.

15 On the basis of EEA(2007)

16 Cf. Cf. Zenke, I. and Schäfer, R. (2009), p.110-111.

17 Taken from Green Investment Management (2008)

18 Cf. Handelsblatt (2001)

19 Cf. Zenke, I. and Schäfer, R. (2009), p.109.

20 Cf. Schiffer, H-W. (2008), p.453.


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University of Applied Sciences Essen
FOM MBA ITM-Checklist Executive summary Kyoto Mechanism KYOTO PROTOCOL Clean Development Mechanism Joint Implementation Emission Trading EUROPEAN UNION EMISSION TRADING SYSTEM carbon dioxide




Title: Development of the international climate politics to reduce the emission of human based greenhouse gases and status quo of the emission reduction measures