The Kyoto Protocol

by Diplom-Betriebswirtin (FH) Claudia Körber (Author) M. Schwirzenbeck (Author) K. Barth (Author)

Term Paper 2004 32 Pages

Environmental Sciences


Table of contents

Table of pictures

Table of short cuts

1. Climate Change
1.1. Greenhouse Effect
1.2. CO

2. The Kyoto Protocol
2.1. Definition of “The Kyoto Protocol”
2.2. Definition of “Conference of the Parties”
2.3. Background and History of the Kyoto Protocol

3. Framework of the Kyoto Protocol

4. Content of the Kyoto Protocol

5. Commitments and Measures fixed in the KP (Article 2)

6. Articles of the Kyoto Protocol
6.1. Emission Limitation (Article 3)
6.2 Mechanisms
6.2.1 Emission Trading (Article 17):
6.2.2 Joint Implementation (JI – Article 6):
6.2.3 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):

7. Final Provisions of the Kyoto Protocol

8. Participating Countries

9. Benefits / expected results of the Kyoto Protocol

10. Problems and limitations of the Kyoto Protocol

11. Positions of governments
11.1 The US and Australia – the Kyoto Protocol’s Opponents
11.2 Russia – the rescuer of the Protocol
11.3 Canada – the finally convinced
11.4 The European Union – the major supporters
11.5 developing countries – the members in the background

12. Outlook

Table of literature

Table of pictures

Picture 1-1 Temperature line

Picture 1-2 CO2 concentration

Picture 1-3 Greenhouse gas emissions in 1990

Table of short cuts

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Climate Change

The global climate consists of the atmosphere/earth/ocean/ice/land system.

The result of a change in this system is climate change.

One sign for climate change is the rise of the temperature.

There are natural forces or human activities which can cause climate change. Following I will describe the human activities which are causing the climate change.[1]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: UNEP (http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/02.htm)

Picture 1-1 Temperature line

1.1. Greenhouse Effect

The Earth has a natural temperature control system. The greenhouse gases belong to this system. Following we can see the main greenhouse gases:

Water vapor: It is a kind of gaseous water (individual water molecules) in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ): This gas gets into the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood or wood products are burned.

Nitrous oxide (N 2 O): It is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of solid waste and fossil fuels.

Methane (CH 4 ): CH4 emitted during production and transport of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), from the decomposition of organic wastes in municipal solid waste landfills, and the raising of livestock.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): These are man-made chemicals containing chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. CFCs are used for industrial purposes and in the home for refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, foam blowing, and chemical solvents. CFCs alter the greenhouse effect by absorbing additional solar radiation. CFCs also destroy the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere that shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Ozone (O 3 ): This is a gaseous molecule that contains three oxygen atoms (O3). Ozone can exist either high in the atmosphere, where it shields the Earth against harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, or close to the ground, where it is the main component of smog. Ground-level ozone is a product of reactions involving hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight. Ozone is a potent irritant that causes lung damage and a variety of respiratory problems.[2]

Those gases are very important because they trap the heat in the atmosphere instead of allowing it to radiate back into space, the way glass traps heat in a greenhouse. Except for chlorofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases are natural components of the atmosphere. So the greenhouse effect is a natural process. Without this process, the earth would be about 60 degrees cooler than it is today, and life as we know it would not be possible. Unfortunately are our activities increasing the levels of the mentioned gases in the atmosphere, which is causing global warming.[3]

The six GHGs addressed by the Kyoto Protocol are: Carbon dioxide (C02), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N20), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF4). I just explaind CO2, CH4 and N2O. Now I will give a definition about the other three gases.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): HFCs are recently developed substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). HFCs, because they contain no chlorine, do not damage the ozone layer in the Earth's upper atmosphere

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs): PFCs are chemicals composed of one or two carbon atoms and four to six fluorine atoms, containing no chlorine. PFCs have no commercial uses and are emitted as a byproduct of aluminum smelting.

Sulphur hexafluoride (SF4 ): It is a colorless gas that is soluble in alcohol and ether; a powerful greehouse gas widely used in the electrical utility industry.[4]

One of the main greenhouse gases is CO 2 .

1.2. CO2

A main point for the increasing of the greenhouse effect is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). Carbon is kept in those fuels, formed millions of years ago from organic matter. When we are burning them the carbon returns to the atmosphere in form of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is the gas that contributes most to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Sripps Institution of oceanography (SiO), University of California, 1998

Picture 1-2 CO2 concentration

CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been measured at an altitude of about 4,000 meters on the Peak of Mauna Loa Mountain in Hawaii since 1958. The measurements at this location, far away from local sources of pollution, have clearly shown that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are increasing.

CO2 has increased rapidely since the beginning of the industrialization.[5]

The main part of carbon dioxide emissions comes from energy production, industrial processes and transport. Most of those activities are practiced in the developed countries. So the rich countries of the world historically have emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the start of the industrial revolution.

The non-industrialised countries which started to increase their population's standard of living, thereby also caused an increase of their emissions of greenhouse gases. Thus there is a closely connection between economic development and energy production.

Land use, particularly deforestation, also contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. Other natural processes like plant respiration, sea-surface exchange of gases, and natural decay of residue also give off carbon dioxide, while plant photosynthesis and the oceans absorb it from the atmosphere. Each year, natural processes add and remove about the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.[6] Unfortunately the human beings disturb this natural balance.

2. The Kyoto Protocol

It is not easy to stop global warming. It is necessary to set strict emissions standards if we want to stop the increasing of the greenhouse effect. We have to reduce our fossil fuel use, develope alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels, remove carbon dioxide from emissions at the source, eliminate the use of chlorofluorocarbons, slow or stop deforestation, and develope agricultural techniques that release less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The most recent international effort to address the greenhouse effect is the Kyoto Protocol.

2.1. Definition of “The Kyoto Protocol”

Kyoto Protocol : An international agreement reached in Kyoto at the Third Conference of the Parties to the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 3) in 1997. The Protocol established specific targets and timetables for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by the framework’s signatories.

http://www.pacificforest.org/about/glossary.html (pacificforest)

2.2. Definition of “Conference of the Parties”

Before I start to discribe the background and history of the Kyoto Protocol I will give a short definition about “The Conference of the Parties”.

The Kyoto Protocol startet with a CoP therefore it is necessary to know what the CoP is.

Conference of the Parties : The CoP is the collection of nations which have ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), currently over 150 strong, and about 50 Observer States. The primary role of the CoP is to keep the implementation of the Convention under review and to take the decisions necessary for the effective implementation of the Convention. The first CoP (CoP 1) took place in Berlin from March 28th to April 7th, 1995, and was attended by over 1000 observers and 2000 media representatives.


2.3. Background and History of the Kyoto Protocol

In 1979 the first World Climate Conference was held. This was a very important step into the right direction. Climate change was the main topic of this conference. The result was that the conference called the governments to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate.

The next important step to stop climat change was made in 1988 at the Toronto Conference. Climat change was put on the international environmental agenda. The subject of the conference was atmospheric pollution.

Two years later, in August 1990, the IPCC published its "First Assessment Report," concluding that emissions resulting from human activities are increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and would enhance the greenhouse effect.

IPCC's findings led to a general agreement among countries that an international treaty or convention was necessary.

In 1991 the first negotiating session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held near Washington.[7]

On May 1992, the final negotiations of the UNFCCC were concluded. Industrialized countries agreed to reduce their carbon-based emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. But the terms of the agreement were not legally binding. In the same year the UNFCCC established the Conference of the Parties (CoP.) The UNFCCC was opened for signing at the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992 and was signed by 154 nations.

The Convention has four key elements:

- The objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
- Under the Convention, developed countries (such as Canada) have to take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Convention did not provide for precise emission-reduction targets or timetable, or a penalty system to punish violators.
- Countries would meet regularly at meetings referred to as a "Conference of the Parties" or "COP" to discuss the implementation of the Conventions objectives.[8]

In 1994 the Climate Convention entered into force on March 21, ninety days after the receipt of the 50th ratification.

The first CoP took place in Berlin, Germany in 1995. During the conference the Berlin Mandate was created. This Mandate engaged developed nations to the following:

- The elaboration of national policies and measures to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The setting of specific targets and timeframes for greenhouse gas limitation and reduction.[9]

In July 1996 CoP 2 was held in Geneva, Switzerland. An important point was that the US agreed to legally binding emission commitments. Moreover, the US supported the inclusion of flexibility mechanisms (will be defind later).[10]

The conference brought out the Geneva Declaration. The Declaration states that the IPCC's Second Assessment Report provides the basis for urgent action and that legally binding overall reductions in emissions should be negotiated by CoP 3.

From december 1-11 1997 CoP 3 took place in Kyoto, Japan. Member countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol provides for the following:

- Greenhouse emission-reduction targets for each country.
- A greenhouse gas emission-trading program.
- Further meetings to establish penalties for failure to meet targets and the rules and regulations of the new emission trading program.

In the Kyoto Protocol, Parties in Annex I of the FCCC agreed to commitments with a view to reduce their emissions of the at the beginning mentioned six greenhouse gases by at least 5% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The Protocol also established emissions trading, joint implementation between developed countries, and a "clean development mechanism" to encourage joint emissions reduction projects between developed and developing countries.[11]

In 1998 the Kyoto Protocol was opened for signature at UN headquarters in New York. Between a one year period 84 countries signed in. At the forth CoP in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the parties adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. Contents of the plan are a list of 140 items to power the implementation of the Convention and to emphasize the operational details of the Kyoto Protocol.

In 1999 another CoP took place in Germany. Delegates from 165 countries met for CoP 5 in Bonn.

The negotiations included the development of emissions trading rules and developement of criteria for project eligibility under the Clean Development Mechanism and joint implementation. Parties also discussed legally binding consequences for non-compliance and an inventory system for greenhouse gas emissions.

At this meeting, all Annex I countries except the US called for ratification of the treaty. It should become into force in June 2002.[12]

In 2000 delegates met for CoP 6 (Part 1) in Hague, Netherlands. There the efforts to implement the recommendations of the Rio de Janeiro Conferende of 1998 had been rather disastrous. Instaed of stabilizing the GHG emissions in the year 2000 at 1990 levels, actual emessions were higher. No further agreements were reached at this conference. So the ministers decided to clarify the details of the Kyoto Protocol at the next meeting.[13]

In the months between the Hague and Bonn CoP, George W. Bush announced that the U.S. will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Requirements for bringing the Protocol into force were, that at least 55 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control ratify and developed countries representing 55% of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. produces 36% of these emissions and their “no” made it very difficult to bring the Protocol into force. In March 2001, President Bush declared that "Kyoto is dead," and announced that the US will not move to ratify the treaty.

In July 2001, the CoP 6 from Hague was continued in Bonn. The ministers met to negotiate about the rules and modalities for implementing the Kyoto Protocol. All parties (except the US) accepted the "Bonn Agreements," and agreed to pursue ratification by 2002. Without this agreement , the Kyoto Protocol would most probably not have survived. Many imortant issues of the agreement were not finalized and were adjourned to the CoP 7 in Marrakech.

The Bonn Agreement: The agreement allows certain countries, especially Japan, Canada and New-Zealand to use sinks to a higher maximum than before. Sinks are natural processes that reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

(i.e.reforestation). For Japan this meant an effective CO2- reduction of only 1% instead of 6% in 2012.

- Compliance : No commitments have been made so far. Although the Agreement speaks of sanctions in case a Party does not reach its emission reduction target, a legally binding agreement is not expected for at least two to three years. Australia blocked negotiations on this issue in the second week of CoP 6, part II.
- Adaptation-funds : A binding agreement on financing was not reached, although the EU, Canada, Iceland and New-Zealand promised contributions of approximately 400 million USD annually as of 2005; also Japan promised to contribute.
- Mechanisms : Negotiations will be continued at CoP 7.
- Nuclear energy : Nuclear energy will not be allowed in the CDM.
- Insurance : Negotiations about this issue will probably start at CoP 8.[14]
November 2001 CoP 7 in Marrakech, Marocco. The parties agreed to the Marrakech Accords. The most important achievements of the Accords are:
- The intigrety of the Political Agreement of Bonn in July was maintained in its enterity. All its provision were translated into legal texts.
- A strong compliance system has been established that will be put in placeafter entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
- Rules and modalities on the Kyoto Mechanisms were decided that will allow the immediate start of the Clean Developement Mechanism and from 2008 on, the start of Joint Implementation projects.
- International emissions trading can start as of 2008.
- Monitoring and repoting procedures were established providing transparency and certainty for the operating of the Kyoto mechanisms.
- Rules were set for the use of credits from sinks activities in forestry and agriculture that strengthen the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol.
- A special package for Least Developed Countries that are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climat change was adopted. It will provide the necessary resources to them over the coming years to build their capacity adapting their fragile economies to the inevitable effects of climate change.
- Turkey will soon accide to Annex I of the Convention and Kazakhstan has reconfirmed its intention to join Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol.

With the Marrakech Accords, the Kyoto Protocol was ready to be brought into force. But this would be difficult without the US. It would be necessary that almost all developed countries, including the European Union, Russia and Japan ratify.[15]


[1] Newscientist (www.newscientist.com/.../ climate/climatefaq.jsp)

[2] Lara Jill Rosenblith (http://environment.about.com/od/kyotoprotocol/a/aa090402a.htm)

[3] Heather E. Lindsay (http://www.csa.com/hottopics/ern/01jul/overview.html)

[4] www.evomarkets.com/ghg_glossary.html

[5] UNEP (http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/02.htm)

[6] Heather E. Lindsay (http://www.csa.com/hottopics/ern/01jul/overview.html)

[7] Lara Jill Rosenblith (http://environment.about.com/od/kyotoprotocol/a/aa090402a.htm)

[8] UNFCC (http://unfccc.int/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/climate_change_information_kit/items/301.php)

[9] Globalcentres (http://www.globalcentres.org/cgcp/english/html_documents/climate/2-1.htm)

[10] Greenpeace (http://archive.greenpeace.org/climate/cop2/)

[11] Global Issues (http://www.globalissues.org/EnvIssues/GlobalWarming/Kyoto.asp)

[12] Lara Jill Rosenblith (http://environment.about.com/od/kyotoprotocol/a/aa090402a.htm)

[13] Michael Faure, Joyeeta Gupta, Andries Nentjes (2003), page 8

[14] EUROPA (http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/climat/pressbckgnd.htm)

[15] Can Europe (http://www.climnet.org/COP7/cop7.htm)


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Kyoto Protocol Environmental Economics




Title: The Kyoto Protocol