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Greenpeace Czech Republic marks Kyoto coming into force with a large banner reading "Kyoto for the Earth" in the front of famous National Museum in the centre of Prague. The museum is a place marking historic and symbolic events in recent Czech history.

Kyoto

On 16 February 2005, in the culmination of ten years of sometimes exhausting and often frustrating negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol became law. Thirty-five industrialised countries along with the European Union are now legally bound to reduce or limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

What is the Kyoto Protocol?

TheKyoto Protocol is the world's only international agreement with bindingtargets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  As such, it is theprimary tool governments of the world have to address climatechange.  Specifically, the Protocol requires a nominal 5 percentreduction in emissions by developed countries world-wide relative to1990 levels, by 2008-2012.  To meet this world-wide target, eachcountry is obligated to its individual target - the European Union(EU[15]) 8 percent, Japan 6 percent, etc.  These individualtargets are derived from past greenhouse gas emissions.

Inaddition to legally binding national emissions targets, the KyotoProtocol includes various trading mechanisms.  Now that theProtocol is law, formal preparations will begin to create a 'global'carbon market for emissions trading by 2008, and the so-called'flexible mechanisms' - the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and JointImplementation (JI) - will become operational.

The KyotoProtocol was originally agreed on in 1997 - although many crucialdetails were left to later talks.  In order to enter into force(become law) the Protocol required ratification by at least 55countries accounting for at least 55 percent of the carbon dioxideemissions from Annex B (industrialised) nations.  So far, 129countries have ratified or acceded to the Protocol.  It passed thenumber of countries test in 2002, and finally passed the second hurdlewith ratification by the Russian Federation in late 2004.

Notablyabsent from the Protocol is the US; which shows no signs of ratifyingthe treaty, at least not as long as the Bush administration is in power- even though the US is the world's biggest greenhouse gaspolluter.  Australia, Liechtenstein, Croatia and Monaco also haveyet to complete the ratification process.

The Clean Development Mechanism (Article 12)

TheClean Development Mechanism is designed to generate emissions reductioncredits for Annex I countries that finance projects in non-Annex Icountries who are part of the treaty.  For example, Canadafinancing an energy efficiency project in China, or Japan financing arenewable energy project in Morocco. These projects must have theapproval of the CDM Executive Board, and in addition to generatingmeasurable emissions reductions against a business-as-usual baseline,they should contribute to sustainable development in the developingcountry partners.

Joint Implementation (Article 3)

JointImplementation allows industrialised countries with emissions reductiontargets to cooperate in meeting them.  For example,German-financed energy efficiency projects in Russia, orNorwegian-financed renewable energy projects in Hungary, which generateemissions reductions, under specific circumstances can be credited tothe country that finances them.  In theory, this is a moreeconomically efficient means of generating the same overall emissionsreductions for industrialised countries.

See also 'Sinks' and other possible pitfalls.

Will the Kyoto Protocol "save the climate"?

TheKyoto Protocol is an important first step - as it was intended tobe.  It has always been recognized that the Kyoto Protocol willnot be enough on its own.  To avoid dangerous climate change theworld needs at least 30 percent cuts by industrialized countries by2020, increasing to 70-80 percent cuts by mid-century.  Anythingless than this will consign our children and theirs to a veryunpleasant and very unstable world.

The decisions thatgovernments, industry and civil society make over the next decade ortwo will be decisive. You have a say in those decision, and your helpis needed.  See our Take Action page for what you can do.

More information:

Kyoto pitfalls

International negotiations - Greenpeace position statements and first hand reports from international meetings.

Text of the Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol becomes law - Greenpeace marks the event and calls for action around the world.

The latest updates

 

Sinks in the CDM: After the climate, biodiversity goes down the drain

Publication | 19 December, 2003 at 0:00

CoP-9 has agreed the rules of accounting for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, so called "Sinks", projects in the Clean Development Mechanism for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as required by the Marrakech Accords (17/CP...

Barrels with radiation sign and the names

Image | 15 December, 2003 at 1:00

Barrels with radiation sign and the names of companies intending to take a share in new nuclear reactor, Helsinki, Finland. Demonstration against planned fifth nuclear reactor to be operated by Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) in Olkiluoto, Finland.

Soya blazes through the Amazon

Feature story | 12 December, 2003 at 0:00

It was a beautiful star gazing night last night and almost everyone was out on deck. The moon rose late and the lights on deck were off because we are in transit. In the distance, against the silhouette of the forest, there was an orange glow.

Floods in southern France only months after

Image | 6 December, 2003 at 0:00

Floods in southern France only months after a severe drought and forest fires in the same area. Global warming, caused by ever increasing consumption of fossil fuels like oil, means extreme weather events are becoming more frequent.

Flooded village in southern France

Image | 5 December, 2003 at 1:00

Flooded village in southern France, close to a nuclear power station. Earlier in 2003 the same area experienced a long drought. Climate change means more extreme weather like flooding and droughts.

Ice melts as globe warms

Feature story | 5 December, 2003 at 0:00

The cryosphere is that part of the Earth made of frozen water and soil: Iceworld, if you will. And according to a new study to be published in January, it's a world that is vanishing rapidly, with potentially devastating consequences.

Screen shot of the power generation game

Image | 5 December, 2003 at 0:00

Screen shot of the power generation game

Screen shot of the wind farm game.

Image | 5 December, 2003 at 0:00

Screen shot of the wind farm game.

Wind vs Nuclear 2003

Publication | 4 December, 2003 at 0:00

Greenpeace France has commissioned a report with the French research institute DETENTE to help inform the discussion on the European Pressurized Reactor. The full version of the report is only available in French at http://www.greenpeace.fr

No to new nukes: go wind

Feature story | 4 December, 2003 at 0:00

Since the French power authority has refused to build wind farms, we built our own this morning on the grounds of a nuclear power plant in Penly, France. We put ten wind turbines up to protest the French government decision to build another...

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