The Kyoto Treaty in Action

The Kyoto Treaty, also known as the Kyoto Protocol, is probably the most widely known international environmental treaty in the whole world today. The birth of the treaty in 1997 wasn't smooth, and along the ways it encountered many problems.

This treaty arose from another treaty – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was an international treaty drafted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which was held in Rio de Janeiro between 3rd and 14th of January 1992. This first treaty was more vague but it sowed the seeds for the treaty in Kyoto, Japan.

The objectives of the Kyoto Treaty were simple: commit industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of four greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and sulphur hexafluoride) and two other groups of gases (perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons), so that global warming could be fought and stopped.

Other objectives of the Kyoto Treaty include the promotion of the implementation of measures, policies and technologies for the reduction of green house emissions in industrialized countries, to minimize the impact on developing countries by establishing a fund for climate change, to ensure the integrity of the protocol and to establish a Compliance Committee to enforce the protocol.

From 1997 to 2010, the protocol went a long way in getting 191 states to ratify it, with 37 of them committing to the reduction of the greenhouse gases they produce by 5.2% below the 1990 level. These limits in the emission of greenhouse gases do not take into consideration international shipping and aviation, however.

However, the world biggest polluter and CO2 emitter from the 1990 levels, the United States, refused to ratify the treaty under the Bush administration in 2001, though U.S. was a key player when the protocol was shaped in 1997.

The Bush administration dubbed the Kyoto Treaty as flawed and stated that it would never sign it. The reason put forward that was the treaty does not require developing countries to reduce their emissions; only fully industrialized countries are involved. This means that big polluters like China, India and Brazil, which are currently still considered developing countries, are not required to reduce their greenhouse gasses emission quota, though they are bound to report their emissions levels and develop green programs. Nevertheless, the Bush administration stated its commitment to the environmental cause and said they would back emission reductions through green technologies and voluntary action. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2009, the United States had not only failed to reduce their emissions levels, they increased it by 16% when compared to the 1990 levels.

While the industrialized countries will, as a whole, probably succeed to meet their emission reduction objectives, most climatologists remain skeptic that the protocol will bring about any real change. The Kyoto protocol will expire at the end of 2012.

Read about other international policy on global warming and related articles on solutions of global warming:

  • Solutions of global warming
  • Ways to stop global warming
  • How to stop global warming
  • Anti global warming
  • Global warming solutions

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