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Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere due to more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on these nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

The Protocol was adopted on December 11, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on February 16, 2005. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialized countries and the European community committed to reducing their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% compared to the year 1990. The reduction efforts were to be carried out over the commitment period 2008 to 2012.

The Protocol’s innovative mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI), and Emissions Trading, were designed to help countries meet their targets cost-effectively. The CDM, for example, allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries and earn saleable certified emission reduction credits. This has paved the way for various carbon credit trading and sustainable development schemes.

While the Kyoto Protocol marked a critical step in global efforts to combat climate change, its effectiveness was limited by the absence of participation by some countries and the lack of enforcement mechanisms to compel compliance. The subsequent Paris Agreement, which builds on the Kyoto Protocol and came into force in 2016, is the current framework for international efforts to tackle climate change.

To learn more about the Kyoto Protocol, please visit the following active websites:

1. United Nations Climate Change – Kyoto Protocol: This primary source offers a detailed overview of the Kyoto Protocol including its mechanisms, commitments, and impact on climate change.

2. World Resources Institute (WRI) – This think tank provides in-depth research, insights, and data on various environmental issues, including climate change and international environmental policy. There might be publications and articles relating to the history, outcomes, and effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol.

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