The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that was first agreed to in 1997. The purpose of the treaty is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent global warming. To date, over 190 countries have signed the agreement, making it one of the most widely supported treaties in history. In this post, we will look at the Kyoto Protocol and examine why it is important to reduce greenhouse gases.
- Why is it Important?
- What is a Greenhouse Gas?
- Why is the Kyoto Protocol important now?
- What was the main benchmark of the Kyoto Protocol?
- Which countries were in the Kyoto Protocol?
- Which countries ratified the agreement?
- Was the Kyoto Agreement Successful?
- Why did the Kyoto Agreement Fail?
- What are the 5 main elements of the Kyoto Protocol?
- What are the 3 implementation mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol?
- Does the Paris Agreement replace the Kyoto Protocol?
- What is the role of business in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
- What is ESG?
- What are the benefits of ESG for companies?
- What do These Greenhouse Gas Agreements mean for you?
- In conclusion the United Nations Framework Convention
Why is it Important?
The Kyoto Protocol has been internationally adopted and it’s the only climate change agreement imposing emission reductions on developed countries. It’s also a flexible framework, allowing for new amendments in order to increase its effectiveness. This protocol is an obligation – all parties should meet their targets and limitations no matter what. The protocol helps fight climate change by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to a certain threshold.
The Kyoto Protocol is important because it never happened before that a group of countries agreed on binding emission reductions, putting all efforts in one basket instead of working separately as they used to do previously. This protocol is also important because it shows that developed countries are able to stand up for their future and the future of the world. Our planet is in great danger, but we can do something about it if we all pay our dues and work together.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; however, scientists warn us to expect many negative consequences in the future: higher sea levels, frequent and more severe weather catastrophes such as floods and hurricanes, and threats to biodiversity.
What is a Greenhouse Gas?
A greenhouse gas (or GHG) is a gas that contributes to the atmosphere’s ability to trap heat from the earth’s surface, causing an increase in global temperatures- called global warming . The main six greenhouse gases include: water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. These gases exist naturally in the atmosphere and trap heat while allowing other light to pass through, keeping the earth warm enough to support life. Human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels add more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than it can naturally balance out and trap more heat than the earth can handle. This “enhanced greenhouse effect” is the cause of man-made global warming and it is having negative consequences for our planet and everyone on it.
Why is the Kyoto Protocol important now?
Over the past two decades, there has been a notable worldwide increase in chemical emissions into the atmosphere. The majority of these chemical emissions are produced through burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and the use of chemicals in agricultural practices. A report by the “Global Carbon Project” indicates that CO2 levels have increased at a rate of 2.3% per year since 2000, with most countries steadily increasing their yearly greenhouse gas emissions between 1-5%. Another study by the World Resources Institute indicates that worldwide CO2 emissions grew by 40% between 1990 and 2008, with China and the United States as the leading emitters. According to a joint study by “The University of East Anglia”, “The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research” and other European scientists, if current trends continue greenhouse gas levels will increase to such a degree that it will become extremely difficult to keep the world’s temperature from rising above 2C (3.6F) this century. Scientists predict that by 2050, we could see an increase of between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius if we do not take serious action today.
What was the main benchmark of the Kyoto Protocol?
The main benchmark of the Kyoto Protocol was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change, in agreement with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Which countries were in the Kyoto Protocol?
It was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, and signed by many of the world’s countries at that time, including most developed countries. However, it was not ratified by a total of 144 specific countries, excluding Russia and other former USSR states within the UNFCCC.
Some signatory countries included:
Europe: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France*, Georgia (UNFCCC), Germany*, Greece*, Hungary*, Iceland, Ireland*, Italy*, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova (UNFCCC), Monaco, Netherlands*, Norway*, Poland*, Portugal*, Romania*, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia*, Spain*, Sweden*, Switzerland*, Ukraine*.
North America: Canada, United States, Mexico (first signatory).
Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.
Asia and Pacific: Brunei Darussalam, China, Cook Islands (UNFCCC), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Fiji, India*, Japan, Kiribati (UNFCCC), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Malaysia*, Marshall Islands (UNFCCC), Micronesia (Federated States of) (UNFCCC), Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal*, New Zealand*, Niue, Pakistan*, Palau (UNFCCC), Papua New Guinea, Philippines*, Samoa (UNFCCC), Singapore*, Solomon Islands (UNFCCC), Thailand*, Tuvalu (UNFCCC), Vanuatu.
Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros (UNFCCC), Congo, Côte d’Ivoire*, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti (UNFCCC), Egypt*, Equatorial Guinea*, Eritrea, Ethiopia*, Gabon*, Ghana*, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau (UNFCCC), Kenya, Lesotho (UNFCCC), Liberia*, Libya*, Madagascar*, Malawi, Mali*, Mauritania, Morocco*, Mozambique (UNFCCC), Namibia*, Niger, Nigeria*, Rwanda (UNFCCC) Senegal, Seychelles (UNFCCC), Sierra Leone*, South Africa*, Sudan*, Swaziland*, Togo (UNFCCC), Tunisia, Uganda*, United Republic of Tanzania*, Zambia*.
Which countries ratified the agreement?
To ratify means to formally approve or accept something. To become a party to the Kyoto Protocol, countries signed it first. However, they had to agree to follow its rules by ratifying it afterward in order for it to have actual legal effect. After signing the agreement in 1997, which was when the agreement took effect, Japan ratified the treaty in March 1998 becoming an original Party to the Protocol. This made Japan the 37th country to ratify the agreement and [it] had a major role in designing it after its own greenhouse gas emissions took off in the 1970’s.
Australia ratified on April 13, 2007, making it number 100 of 175 parties. However, Canada decided not to follow through with ratification and did not bring the treaty into force. In response to Canada’s withdrawal, Australia and New Zealand negotiated a set of parallel policies entirely independent of Canada.
The US never ratified but joined the agreement in November 2016 as an Acceding Parties. This status is distinct from that of a Party and is not subject to any of the requirements for ratification. There has been confusion over whether the US has ratified.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported to the General Assembly on December 7, 2009, that Russia and Monaco “had ratified the Protocol”, but it was clarified by Monaco’s Permanent Representative to the UN that Monaco had not in fact ratified. On 16 October 2011, an update from Monaco’s minister of foreign affairs to the secretary-general stated that Monaco “has decided to complete its ratification process”. According to the UNFCCC website, Russia ratified on 2 November 2012.
On October 4th, 2016, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would formally ratify the Protocol after almost two decades of indecision. With the federal election set for October 21st of the same year and Trudeau’s party polling at 38% according to Ipsos 5 days before his announcement, it is unlikely that the Canadian ratification will come by the time Canada becomes a ratifying state.
There are 39 countries which have ratified or acceded to the agreement: Albania*, Algeria*, Antigua and Barbuda (UNFCCC), Argentina*, Armenia (UNFCCC), Australia*, Austria, Azerbaijan* (the ratification is considered invalid by the United Nations because it was signed by a political entity, rather than the responsible minister), Belarus*, Belgium (includes 3 communities: Flemish, Walloon and German-speaking), Belize (UNFCCC), Bolivia (UNFCCC) , Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNFCCC), Brazil*, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria*, Canada*, Cape Verde (UNFCCC), Chile* , China*, Colombia* , Croatia* (includes 1 autonomous region: the Dubrovnik-Neretva County), Cyprus (UNFCCC), Czech Republic* (includes 2 communities: the Capital City region and the Hradec Králové Region), Denmark* , Dominican Republic, Ecuador*, Estonia* (includes 1 county: Harju), Fiji*, Finland*, France*, Germany* , Greece*, Grenada (UNFCCC) , Guatemala* , Guyana* , Hungary*, Iceland, Ireland*, Italy*, Japan*, Kazakhstan (*Plzeň Region and the South Bohemian Region), Denmark (includes 2 constituent countries: Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Dominican Republic (UNFCCC) , Ecuador*, Estonia* (includes 1 autonomous region: Saaremaa), European Union*, Fiji (UNF)
Was the Kyoto Agreement Successful?
Yes and no. First of all, the Kyoto Protocol has been successful in that it made some types of pollution illegal. One example of this is extracting and using fossil fuels; while we still need them to run technology today, we try our best to limit how much we use and ensure that what we do use isn’t wasted (by not polluting the atmosphere with too much CO2).
In addition, the Kyoto Protocol has been successful in implementing new technologies that have proven to reduce pollution. For example, there is a large movement toward green technology such as solar panels and electric cars. Green technology is popular because it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels while simultaneously reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
However, the agreement has not been successful in the sense that many countries are still using fossil fuels, despite being illegal to do so under the Kyoto Protocol. For example, some people think that the United States has not ratified Kyoto because of international pressure on big polluters like China and India.
Unfortunately, many world leaders have failed to commit themselves to this agreement which makes the goal of reducing pollutants much more difficult. As a result, many political agencies have devised alternative solutions to help reduce global warming.
Why did the Kyoto Agreement Fail?
The reason why most people think that it failed is because there was no “commitment” or follow-through. As a result, most countries didn’t abide by their cuts for greenhouse gas emissions, and now we’re at a point where we’re struggling as a planet to find an effective way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we’re putting into the atmosphere. As a result, we may not be able to limit global warming and combat climate change as successfully as we’d like if we continue on this path.
But it did start the ball rolling on change. For example, the European Union now gets almost 20% of its total energy consumption from renewable sources. Many states and provinces in Canada, Australia, Japan, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and others have pledged to reduce carbon emissions based on how much they were emitting in 1990 before the Kyoto Protocol was even created.
While it failed to meet its goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions (by as much as 30% by 2012), it was such a strong symbol of world unity to combat climate change that leaders began to take the steps necessary to create new, even more ambitious treaties. So, did it fail?
What are the 5 main elements of the Kyoto Protocol?
The 5 main elements of the protocol are:
1. The emission limitations – to be legally binding, a country should limit the emissions of greenhouse gases to a certain threshold. Currently, that number is 5.2%.
2. The compliance mechanism – every party has to take measures to monitor and report their emissions as well as have penalties for those who fail to meet emission standards set by the protocol.
3. Mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gases – these include market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading, joint implementation, and the clean development mechanism.
4. Technology cooperation – This ensures that all parties have access to technology transfer to help them comply with their emission limitations.
5. Financial resources for implementing the Kyoto Protocol – financial resources are needed at all stages of compliance with the protocol and the framework convention. These may be provided through:
i. bilateral or multilateral channels;
ii. direct access to the CDM market;
iii. international emissions trading;
iv. nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs); and
v. Financial contributions from Parties not included in Annex I of the protocol (the so-called non-Annex I countries).
What are the 3 implementation mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol?
In the agreement, there are three main implementation mechanisms to reach the benchmark. They are emissions trading, clean development mechanisms, and joint implementation.
Emissions Trading – Emissions trading is a market-based instrument that allows any facility with emission rights to buy or sell them in an open market where none of the parties needs to own more than their allowed quotas. It is often used with Tier 3, which is a country-based mechanism that sets caps on the total GHG emissions of all facilities within an entire economy.
For example, in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), there are quotas issued based on how much carbon dioxide each factory or power plant emits per year. Within the system, there are companies and organizations that can buy and sell these quotas.
Clean Development Mechanism – The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a method for developed countries to meet their emission-reduction targets by funding projects in developing countries. It effectively allows industrialized nations to outsource climate change responsibilities to developing nations, allowing them not only to meet their Kyoto Protocol obligations but also to dodge the costs of reducing GHG emissions.
The CDM works around a baseline and credit system. The default baseline for a project is calculated from historical energy statistics, which projects must then improve upon in order to earn credits that can be sold on an open market. To participate in the CDM, countries must meet the minimum requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, which includes having ratified it.
The CDM has been very controversial for this reason – it is seen as a cheap way out for developed nations to meet their targets without actually making any changes themselves.
Joint Implementation – Joint implementation (JI) is designed to help industrialized countries meet their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. It allows companies in industrialized countries to invest in projects that reduce GHG emissions in other countries, rather than within their own borders.
In JI, a group of one developed and one developing country create a project together and divide its emission reductions between them. The developing country counts the reductions toward its target under the Kyoto Protocol, while the developed country uses them to meet its own target.
The main criticism of JI is that it allows rich countries to continue polluting by buying credits from poor countries. This takes responsibility away from industrialized nations and puts the onus entirely on developing ones, who are increasingly blamed for climate change while having little historical responsibility for it.
Does the Paris Agreement replace the Kyoto Protocol?
While it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen with the Paris Agreement, it seems likely that this treaty will completely replace the Kyoto Protocol. This article from The Guardian from early 2016 states a number of reasons why the COP 21 Paris Agreement signifies a new era for climate change action and makes an obvious push for countries who have not yet ratified it to do so.
The main argument from The Guardian is that the Paris Agreement is ‘science-based’. This means that it encourages countries to make decisions with climate change in mind – rather than perhaps focusing on economic factors. Additionally, they argue that this approach allows for stronger accountability and concrete plans of action, which was not possible before.
Paris Agreement also manages to capture all 196 parties of the UNFCCC, rather than just a subset. This means that it is more inclusive and therefore makes it easier to engage different groups of people.
What is the role of business in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
Businesses will play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With over 200 million companies around the world, they have a considerable collective carbon footprint. And while some might see it as more rules to abide by, there is a great opportunity for those companies who embrace the future. For example, businesses that embrace sustainability will naturally be at an advantage when it comes to attracting customers. People are becoming more conscious of social and environmental issues. This trend is especially true in younger people who can be a great asset to a business.
The other way that businesses can reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by improving the efficiencies of their operations and embracing new technologies. With smart machines, sensors, machine learning, and the internet of Things becoming more prevalent in the workplace, companies have a great opportunity to take advantage of this data and make better decisions about how they use their resources. And there is already a protocol for them to follow. It is known as ESG.
What is ESG?
ESG is a frequently used acronym in the business world. It stands for environmental, social, and governance. ESG provides a framework for companies to follow when it comes to tackling climate change issues. While this standard may be new, it has been developed with ample time and effort devoted to its creation.
It is known as an ethical approach to business and a way of doing business in a sustainable manner. The organizations that apply the ESG standard make strong efforts to improve their environmental and social performance, while actively seeking out risks and opportunities. And they report on it regularly – giving their stakeholders insight into the decisions they make.
What are the benefits of ESG for companies?
There are many benefits of ESG for companies. The first is that it allows them to show their commitment to tackling climate change issues. And with more and more people becoming informed on these issues, this can only be a good thing!
Another benefit is that it reduces risk. By integrating features into your company’s business model that reduce pollution, improve efficiency, and ensure you are following fair trading practices, you reduce the risk of environmental issues impacting your business.
Finally, by adopting this standard as a company, it can attract new customers who also abide by ESG standards. This means that, over time, it will naturally build a loyal customer base – which means increased revenue for your business.
What do These Greenhouse Gas Agreements mean for you?
If we already notice that climate change is a real thing that’s happening around us, then we should take action. The Kyoto Protocol lists specific countries that have to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. If they don’t, then there are financial consequences that may inhibit them from doing business with other countries or investors from investing in their economies.
In my opinion, it is necessary for all countries to adopt actions against climate change because we’re already out of time when it comes to alternative energy sources. If we already reached the point where our planet’s resources are not sufficient enough to support us, it means that changes need to take place.
Every country should do its part to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This may be achieved through technological advancements or simple strategies like recycling or switching lights off when you don’t need them on.
In conclusion the United Nations Framework Convention
In conclusion, the Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that was developed to protect our planet by decreasing the levels of greenhouse gas emissions. It is important because it can help us reduce costs and lead better lives with cleaner water and air. While it was not ratified by many countries, it did contribute to the development of a new process that changed business for good – ESG.
Moving forward, it is imperative that countries, companies, and individuals adopt sustainable practices in order to protect our planet for future generations.
Doing business ethically and sustainably means you have a competitive advantage over your rivals, who are probably not following any ethical practices. In addition, it will mean less environmental damage for future generations to deal with, which is definitely something we should all strive to achieve.
Research & Curation
Dean Emerick is a curator on sustainability issues with ESG The Report, an online resource for SMEs and Investment professionals focusing on ESG principles. Their primary goal is to help middle-market companies automate Impact Reporting with ESG Software. Leveraging the power of AI, machine learning, and AWS to transition to a sustainable business model. Serving clients in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe, and the global community. If you want to get started, don’t forget to Get the Checklist! ✅