Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)

The Kyoto Protocol was the first global greenhouse-gas limiting treaty enacted by the world’s nations—most of them, at least.  It was the first step in a journey of a many, many miles.  And although it is often criticized, the momentum it added to combating climate change was truly important.

Worldwide efforts to address climate change really began with the 1994 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the fundamental strategy to steer emission controlling efforts.  But it needed more, specifically a protocol for how the strategy would do its work.  That became the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997.

However, before the Kyoto Protocol entered into force it needed to be ratified by enough countries that 55% of global greenhouse-gas emissions would be covered.  Although 191 countries and one regional group had signed the agreement, the U.S. backed out in 2001, a big blow because the U.S. was then the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  Eventually, when Russia ratified, the 55% threshold was passed, and the Kyoto Protocol began, on February 16, 2005.

Big Bend Power Station, Flordia

The Kyoto Protocol was a binding treaty that required developed countries to reduce their emissions by 5% over 1990 levels by 2012.  It left out developing countries, including China and India, asking only that those countries try to reduce their emissions.  The agreement allowed individual countries to devise their own means for achieving reductions, but it also added several incentives to get credit toward their goal by help developing countries reduce emissions.

The protocol has been praised by some and disdained by others.  Because it divided the world into two groups, only one of which—developed countries—was required to reduce emission, the protocol lacked a universal approach. Because the U.S. and later Canada and Russia, backed out, control of much of the developed world also fell outside the agreement.

Nonetheless, most of Western Europe performed exceptionally under the Kyoto protocol.  Overall emissions there declined by more than 20%, four times the required reduction.  Of course, the countries of Western Europe were and are the most conscientious about controlling climate change, making huge investments in energy conservation, green energy, forest regeneration and fuel switching.

Supporters of the Kyoto Protocol reiterate the idea that every journey starts with the first step and that the protocol was a crucial first step.  It provided motivation for all the actions that individual countries have performed, including the UK Climate Change Act ;of 2008, and it set a global expectation that responsible governments and industries would work towards emission control.  It also originated many specific ideas for how emissions would be monitored and accounted, including emission trading among nations and regions.

The “son of the Kyoto Protocol” is the Paris Agreement, created in 2015 and entered into force on November 4, 2016.  The Paris Agreement corrects several deficiencies in the Kyoto Protocol, primarily because each of the world’s countries, developed and developing, is now obligated to work toward controlling its greenhouse-gas emissions.

References:

Climate Home News.  2015.  Kyoto Protocol:  10 years of the world’s first climate change treaty.  Available at:  http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/02/16/kyoto-protocol-10-years-of-the-worlds-first-climate-change-treaty/.  Accessed February 11, 2018.

CNN.  2017.  Kyoto Protocol Fast Facts.  CNN Library, March 24, 2017.  Available at:  https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/26/world/kyoto-protocol-fast-facts/index.html.  Accessed February 11, 2018.

United Nations Climate Change.  A Summary of the Kyoto Protocol.  Available at:  http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/background/items/2879.php.  Accessed February 11, 2018.

United Nations Climate Change.  The Paris Agreement.  Available at:  http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php.  Accessed February 11, 2018.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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