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The Kyoto Protocol

Term Paper 2007 49 Pages

Environmental Sciences

Excerpt

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

LIST OF FIGURES

1 INTRODUCTION

2 CLIMATE CHANGE AND GREENHOUSE EFFECT
2.1 NATURAL GREENHOUSE EFFECT
2.2 ANTHROPOGENIC GREENHOUSE EFFECT
2.3 CONSEQUENCES AND FORECASTS

3 THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
3.1 DEFINITION OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
3.2 DEFINITION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
3.3 THE ROAD TO KYOTO AND BEYOND
3.4 CONTENT OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
3.5 FLEXIBLE MECHANISMS
3.5.1 Emission Bubbles
3.5.2 Joint Implementation (JI)
3.5.3 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
3.5.4 International Emission Trading (IET) 26

4 BENEFITS AND EXPECTED RESULTS OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
4.1 REDUCED RATE OF GLOBAL WARMING
4.2 BETTER CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
4.3 BETTER HEALTH CONDITIONS
4.4 LONG-TERM ECONOMIC BENEFITS
4.5 FLEXIBILITY IN MEETING EMISSION TARGETS

5 CRITICISM AND PROBLEMS
5.1 EMISSION REDUCTIONS ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING
5.2 THE PROBLEM WITH SINKS
5.3 THE ABSENCE OF THE USA
5.4 2012 - AND THEN?

6 ANALYSIS AND OUTLOOK

7 APPENDICES:
7.1 APPENDIX
7.2 APPENDIX
7.3 APPENDIX

REFERENCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Figures

Figure 1: Global Temperature Trend 1850- 2005

Figure 2: Global abundances of key greenhouse gases in December 2004

Figure 3: Annual greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Figure 4: Shares of global energy based CO2 emissions, 2001

Figure 5: Projected changes in global temperature

Figure 6: Sea level rise due to global warming

Figure 7: Percentage change of the 6 greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to 1990

The prize is precious- to bequeath to all our children a world as rich in life and opportunity as the one we inherited. But time is short. Action is required now if we are to win the battle against climate change.”

1 Introduction

The debate around the climate policy of the earth is absolutely one of most complicated and most important of our time, even if it owns no big public lobby of spectacular events. Some small island states in the South Pacific are worried by the forecast increase of the sea level above their living space. Again others see in the warming of the terrestrial atmosphere only one of the regularly returning climate variations and no reason for concern.

Hence, it is even more astonishing that one has succeeded in spite of these opinion differences in bringing this discourse in Kyoto to a result and in negotiating a protocol, which supports the process. The result of the discussion was in 1997 the Kyoto Protocol, which is to be seen till the present as a milestone in international climate policy. For a long time it was uncertain, whether it one day will come into effect - however, it has: The Kyoto Protocol obliged from the 16th February, 2005 after many years tough negotiations, more than 30 industrial states under international law to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Concerning this event, the following questions arise: what does the Kyoto Protocol signify? What does it contain and how effective can it really be? The present work looks at these questions.

Firstly, the natural and the anthropogenic greenhouse effect and the following predictions should be shown as bases to make clear the necessity of active climate protection policy. Afterwards the Kyoto Protocol is explained in its climate-political connections, contents and instruments and, in the end, benefits and critical points will be shown.

In my opinion, criticism is necessary to allow a comprising assessment of the protocol. Finally, it must be emphasized that with the given time a complete representation of such a complicated subject area will not be possible. Therefore, I will explain the most important issues and give a general overview rather than go into details in order to treat the subject as the whole.

2 Climate change and greenhouse effect

Earth’s climate is determined by complex interactions among several subsystems: the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. The Sun is the principal driving force for climate. Climate change may be due to both internal changes within climate system or external factors (both natural and anthropogenic). The UNFCC defines climate change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere” (McMichael, Anthony J. 2003, p. 287). Indeed, already in 1896 the Swedish chemist Arrhenius formulated a greenhouse hypothesis, which has accepted a connection between risen green gas emissions and global temperature changes (Mittendorf 2004, p.5). A rapid increase in the average temperature is one of the indicators for changes in climate. For example Figure 1 shows that since the late 1850's, the global average temperature has increased about 0.7 to 1.4 °F (0.4 to 0.8 °C).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Global Temperature Trend 1850- 2005

Source: http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/101%5FScience%5FImpacts%2Epdf

2.1 Natural greenhouse effect

The life on our planet can depend on a number of factors. The most important factor is atmosphere. If the Earth had no atmosphere, its average surface temperature would be lower than it is now and Earth would be a frozen planet. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere contribute to global warming. They are called greenhouse gases, because they behave like glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight to pass through but trapping the heat formed and preventing it from escaping, thereby causing a rise in temperature. This warming process is also called the natural greenhouse effect1, caused rather by natural and not by human sources and provided for the fact that the earth is inhabitable for us people.

Especially big, natural sources are the oceans from which escape according to the estimates2 up to 400 million metric tons of methane (CH4) per year. The main natural greenhouse gases also are:

H2O (water vapor):

It is a kind of gaseous water (individual water molecules) in the atmosthere. Human activity has little direct impact on the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere; however, changes in its concentration are an indirect result of climate feedbacks related to the warming of the atmosphere.

CH4 (methane):

Methane is a colorless, odorless, flammable gas. It is formed when plants decay and where there is very little air. It is often called swamp gas because it is abundant around water and swamps3.

CO2 (Carbon Dioxide):

It is a colorless, odorless non-flammable gas and is the most prominent greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere. It is recycled through the atmosphere by the process photosynthesis, which makes human life possible. Photosynthesis is the process of green plants and other organisms transforming light energy into chemical energy4. Carbon Dioxide is emitted into the air as every living creature or plant on earth exhale or it gets into the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood or wood products are burned.

O3 (ozone):

Is found in small quantities in the atmosphere (especially after a thunderstorm) and forms a protective layer in the upper atmosphere5.

N2O (nitrous oxide):

Is another colorless greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 320 and released naturally from oceans and by bacteria in soils. Major sources of nitrous oxide (N2O) include soil cultivation practices, fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning.6

Following I will describe the human activities which are causing the climate change.

2.2 Anthropogenic greenhouse effect

Human activities are also increasing the concentration of the naturally existing greenhouse gases, and adding new ones such as halocarbons (HFCs). The most commonly known halocarbons are CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (hydroflurocarbons). Their most common use is in refrigeration and air conditioning technologies but they are also used heavily in the electric system infrastructure.7 If anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions increase the atmospheric concentrations of these gases, these will raise global average annual surface and air temperatures. Other potential indirect impacts of global warming are changes in precipitation quantity and pattern, changes in vegetation cover and soil moisture, increased intensity of tropical storms and a rise in sea level due to the melting of Antarctic ice sheets. From the economic and social point of view these indirect impacts will be more important than direct changes in temperature.

Present measurements show that atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases have been increasing since the industrial revolution due to human activities. Followed Figure 2 summarises pre-industrial and concentrations in December 2004 and rates of changes to the year 1750, as well as the mean annual absolute increase during last 10 years. Water vapour and ozone are two greenhouse gases that have not been included in this table. This is because concentrations of water vapour are determined internally within the climate system, and it is difficult to quantify changes in the concentration of ozone as a result of human activity.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: Global abundances of key greenhouse gases in December 2004

Source: http://www.wmo.ch/web/arep/gaw/ghg/ghg-bulletin-en-03-06.pdf, p.2

Notes:

ppm= parts per million

Figure 3 gives the anthropogenic sources of the main greenhouse gases in the year 2000. According to the diagram below, greenhouse gases from power stations, industrial processes and transport have played a major role in the recently observed global warming. Furthermore, measurements show that CO2 contribute about 72 % of the direct radiative forcing. In its case we can say this gas contributes most to the enhanced anthropogenic greenhouse effect.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 3: Annual greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e0/Greenhouse_Gas_by_Sector.png

The World Resources Institute estimates that about 60% of global emissions in 2000 came from carbon dioxide emissions from energy use (WRI 2003).According to WRI, six nations (United States, European Union, China, Russia, Japan and India) account for nearly half of global emissions and nearly two-thirds of carbon dioxide emissions from energy. The United States alone accounts for more than one-fifth of global energy-related emissions (see Figure 4).8

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 4: Shares of global energy based CO2 emissions, 2001

Source: http://www.wri.org/business/pubs_content_text.cfm?cid=2173

2.3 Consequences and forecasts

Concerning the cognition about the increase of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect and its consequences on the global climate, the different forecasts are made for the future, which reach in the extreme case from fickle changes of the climate up to a chaotic behavior of the climate trials.

According to the climate research of the University at East Anglia, the average global temperature could rise relative to 1990 by about 1 to 4.5 ° C by 2100. “The topmost curve is for IS92e, assuming constant aerosol concentrations beyond 1990 and high climate sensitivity of 4.5 °C. The lowest curve is for IS92c and assumes constant aerosol concentrations beyond 1990 and a low climate sensitivity of 1.5 °C”9.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 5: Projected changes in global temperature

Source: http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/23.htm

Furthermore, IPCC estimated that over the last 100 years, the global sea level has risen by about 10 to 25 cm. Expansion of the oceans and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets cause sea level rise. And scientists have been also able to make some projections about how sea level will change over the next hundred years. Taking into account the ranges in the estimate of climate sensitivity and ice melt parameters, and the full set of IS92 emission scenarios, the model below (see Figure

6) projects the greatest increase in global sea level of between 13 and 94 cm.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 6: Sea level rise due to global warming

Source: http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/19.htm

Moreover many kinds of extreme weather will become more common. One of the larger changes in precipitation predicted, is the intensity of rain and snowfall. That means, scientist at the federally funded academic research center in Washington said, „when it rains, it rains more" even if it doesn't rain as often.10

The presumption of rising temperatures is linked to an increase in emission of greenhouse gases. The fact should be taken into consideration, that on the one hand the consequences of the rising emission of the greenhouse gases and the necessity to reduce these are known. On the other hand a steadily growing world population demands more energy, what complicates actual reduction measures. At projected growth rates, by the year 2050 the global population is expected to rise till 9.4 billion, of whom 8 billion will live in developing countries.11

The consequences of climate change and their meaning for the people and animals are easy to foresee. Above all coastal regions and islands are threatened by rising sea level. It is supposed, that some islands will completely disappear in the sea and many people will become homeless.12 In total more land will become less habitable for the people and usable for agricultural purposes. For example in Europe, floods are the most common natural disaster, causing loss of life and economic damage. Scenes like near Eschenlohe, Germany, were seen across Europe's Alpine region13. Beside such disasters, violent conflicts are likely around few square meters of the fertile land. And it is paradoxical that above all a huge number of the poorest countries are affected by consequences of the climate change, which is to be led back, nevertheless, for the most part on the emissions of the industrial countries.

The climate change is also likely to have adverse effects on human health.14 The Climate Institute in Washington reported “In July 1995, a heat wave killed more than 700 people in the Chicago area alone.”15

“Violent storms, with tornadoes and large hail, have swept several US states, killing at least 27 people” reported BBC UK on Monday, 3 April 2006. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4871660.stm). Moreover certain species or even entire ecosystems may be unable to keep pace. In addition to the value of ecosystems in and of themselves, many ecosystems provide essential service on which human beings depend for their survival.

It is recognised that climate change cannot be stopped; however, it is absolutely possible to reach an assuagement by reducing greenhouse gas emissions16. The Kyoto Protocol is such an attempt to protect the climate. It also counts within international climate protection policy as unique and hope to reduce expected dangers.

3 The Kyoto Protocol

It is not easy to stop global warming. Because climate change is global environmental problem, is here an international collaboration is urgently necessary. The Kyoto Protocol as the most recent international effort to address the greenhouse effect should be both explained and also questioned critically in the following.

3.1 Definition of the Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, is an international treaty on global warming and an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), adopted at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3). The Protocol established specific targets and timetables for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by the framework´s signatories. The individual targets for Annex I Parties are listed in the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B17. These add up to a total cut of at least 5 % from, 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 - 2012.

If successful, the Kyoto Protocol is expected to reduce the average global temperature between 0,02 °C and 0,28 °C by the year 205018.

3.2 Definition of the Conference of the Parties

Before I start to describe a timeline of scientific research and conferences that led to the Kyoto Protocol, I will give a short definition about “The Conference of the Parties”. The Kyoto Protocol started with a COP therefore it is necessary to know what the COP is.

COP is an association of all the countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. One of the main functions of the COP is to review the implementation of the Convention and to examine the commitments of Parties in light of the Convention’s objectives. The COP has met regularly since 1995 in one after another of the participating countries. The 3rd COP session in 1997 led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol19.

3.3 The Road to Kyoto and Beyond

In the 20-th century some climate protection treaties were negotiated and signed.

The First World Climate Conference was held on 12-23 February 1979 in Geneva and sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It presented the first evidence of the negative effects of human activities on climate change. At a time when interest in climate change was relatively new, the idea for the conference gre out of scientists to call on world’s governments "to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity"20. The Conference led to the establishment of the World Climate Programme under the joint responsibility of the WMO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

The next important conference on climate change was convened in Villach, Austria in 1985 initiated by the UNEP, the WMO, and the ICSU. Scientists from 29 developed and developing countries met from 9-15 October to assess the impact of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide on the world’s climate.21

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international agreement designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances that can cause ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. It does not contain legally binding controls or targets.22

In 1988 t he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the WMO and the UNEP. Its main objective was to understand the various aspects of climate change including science, environmental and socio-economic impacts and response strategies.23

That same year, following a proposal by the Government of Malta, the United Nations General Assembly took up the issue of climate change for the first time and adopted resolution 43/53 on the “protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind”.24

The next important step to stop climate change was made in 1988 at the Toronto Conference. Climate change was put on the international environmental agenda. The subject of the conference was atmospheric pollution.25

1 For more information see: www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/global-warming-faq.htm

2 For more information see: http://www.killerinourmidst.com/methane%20catastrophe.html

3 www.envirolink.org/orgs/edf/sitemap.html

4 http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article-9273513

5 http://www.babylon.com/definition/ozone/

6 http://www.lenntech.com/greenhouse-effect/climate-change-glossary.htm#N

7 http://www.mtpc.org/cleanenergy/energy/glossaryenvironment.htm

8 http://www.wri.org/business/pubs_content_text.cfm?cid=2173

9 http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/23.htm

10 http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?ID=6100&Method=Full&PageCa ll=&Title=NCAR%20Study%20Projects%20More%20Extreme%20Weather&Cache=False

11 http://www.infoforhealth.org/pr/m14/m14print.shtml

12 http://www.dhushara.com/book/diversit/eye1.htm

13 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4176988.stm

14 Spread of major tropical vector-borne diseases: http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/39.htm

15 http://www.climate.org/topics/health/index.shtml

16 IPCC WG II 2001, p. 6 Source: http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/wg2SPMfinal.pdf

17 For more information see Appendix III

18 http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-pm072998.htm

19 http://www.elci.org/Unccd/unccd English.pdf, see p.4

20 http://unfccc.int/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/climate_change_information _kit/items/300.php

21 http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/climat/policy_primer- abecedaire_en_matiere/chronolog_e.html

22 http://www.answers.com/topic/montreal-protoco

23 http://www.ciesin.org/TG/HDP/ipcc.html

24 http://www3.itu.int/MISSIONS/Malta/maltainun.htm#10

25 http://www.cs.ntu.edu.au/homepages/jmitroy/sid101/uncc/fs215.htm

Details

Pages
49
Year
2007
ISBN (eBook)
9783638613743
File size
1.1 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v69619
Institution / College
University of Applied Sciences Constanze
Grade
1,7
Tags
Kyoto Protocol Environmental Economics

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Title: The Kyoto Protocol