The Kyoto Protocol: An International Agreement on Climate Change

1. Introduction

Global warming is a major problem which our planet faces today terribly. It is the increase of Earth’s average surface temperature because of effect of greenhouse gases, like water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the Earth’s surface warmer than it would be without them (an effect called the “greenhouse effect”). Global warming can cause many natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Also, it causes extinction of species and effects human health. In this essay I will concentrate on Kyoto Protocol that was developed in Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the aim to fight global warming.

2. Global Warming

Nowadays, the climate is changing very rapidly compared to the past. The years from 1880 to 2012 were characterised by an increase of about 0.85°C in global average temperature at the surface of the Earth (NASA, 2016). The main reason for this rapid change is human activity: burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal releases what are called “greenhouse gases” into Earth’s atmosphere and these continue to rise year after year. The greenhouse gases form a “blanket” around Earth that trap energy from the sun. This trapped energy makes Earth’s atmosphere warm, and disturbs the Earth’s climate. It is not only air temperature that affects climate; oceans play an important role too. For example, they can absorb large amounts of greenhouse gases and store heat (NOAA, 2016).

3. The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. The main objective of the protocol is to control greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in order to mitigate global warming and its harmful effects (UNFCCC, n.d.).
There are two “commitment periods” under the protocol, the first one ran from 2008-2012 and covered 37 industrialized countries and economies in transition (Annex I Parties). The second commitment period runs from 2013-2020 Under the first commitment period, Annex I Parties committed themselves to reduce their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5% below 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012 In order to meet these targets, Annex I Parties can use three “mechanisms”:
-The Clean Development Mechanism allows a country with an emission reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an approved project in developing countries as part of its commitment
-Joint Implementation
-International Emissions Trading

4. Clean Technology

Clean technology includes a broad range of technologies being developed to substantially improve processes, products or services so as to lower greenhouse gas emissions or minimize waste throughout their lifecycle when compared with those used today (WBCSD & WRI, 2010). There are many sectors where clean technology can be applied: agriculture, buildings & construction, chemicals & pharmaceuticals etc.. It offers enormous potential for mitigation because it improves resource efficiency and reduces pollution along production chains (IPCC, 2007).

5. Implementation of the Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and committed Annex I Parties to reduce their aggregate anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels over the period 2008-2012. The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted on 8 December 2012, provides for a second commitment period under the Protocol with effect from 1 January 2013 until 31 December 2020, and established new commitments for Annex I Parties. As of June 2014, 191 countries were Parties to the Kyoto Protocol

6. Kyoto and the United States

The United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. In 1997, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed (95-0) the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated that the Senate would not advise and consent to the ratification of any international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions that did not include binding targets and timetables for developed countries and did not exempt developing countries from participation

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, global warming is a major problem which our planet faces today terribly. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. Clean technology includes a broad range of technologies being developed to substantially improve processes, products or services so as to lower greenhouse gas emissions or minimize waste throughout their lifecycle when compared with those used today. The United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

FAQ

The global warming phenomenon is the gradual increase of the Earth's average surface temperature.

Global warming can cause many different types of weather events, including hurricanes, floods, and droughts. It can also lead to extinction of plant and animal species and make it difficult for people to grow crops and access clean water.

The main causes of global warming are human activities like burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and using chemicals that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

We can take steps to prevent or stop global warming by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, planting trees and other plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and developing cleaner energy sources like solar power and wind energy.

If we do nothing to stop global warming, it will cause more extreme weather events, damage our environment in irreversible ways, and make it difficult for people to live healthy lives.