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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

 

Fossil fools from G20 to Rio+20

Blog entry by Patricia Lerner, Greenpeace International | 19 June, 2012 3 comments

Three years ago I was in Pittsburgh and witnessed the G20 leaders commit to phasing out "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term". That wasn´t the urgency we were looking for then, or the one sought with the global...

Rising Powers Take the Floor at Rio+20

Blog entry by Yong Rong, Greenpeace East Asia | 17 June, 2012 3 comments

Last week, I kissed my five-year-old daughter goodbye in Beijing and got on a flight bound for Rio de Janeiro. 25 hours later, I joined some 50,000 other people in Rio for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Absent from that big crowd,...

Greenwash+20

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace International | 15 June, 2012 1 comment

Today here at the Rio+20 Earth Summit , corporations will start their own sustainability party , hosted by the UN Global Compact. It’s not difficult to picture what it will be like: countless speeches and glossy brochures on...

Rainbow Warrior arrives at Rio+20

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 14 June, 2012 2 comments

Like so many in Greenpeace, I love boats. Put me on water and I am happy. So when I heard back in March at one of the preparatory meetings for the Rio Earth Summit taking place in New York that our new Rainbow Warrior was there, I...

Greenwash+20

Publication | 12 June, 2012 at 13:45

Today, greenwash is alive and well, as you will no doubt see at the Rio+20 conference. The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) coalition, for example, will be there again, and we invite you to compare their rhetoric to what was...

Rio+20: High Seas protection possible; right to food? US says: "delete"

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 6 June, 2012 2 comments

If you believe the United Nations press release a lot was achieved at last week´s "informal informal" negotiations for Rio+20: "Before the negotiations, only 6 per cent of the text had been agreed upon.  Now, that number has jumped...

Error message for Microsoft’s use of coal

Blog entry by David Pomerantz | 6 June, 2012

Greenpeace activists scaled Microsoft’s building in Herzliya, Israel this week to call on the company to stop using 19 th -century coal to power its 21 st -century cloud platform. The activists displayed a 100 square meter banner ...

The Energy [R]evolution will pay off in savings and jobs

Blog entry by Sven Teske | 5 June, 2012 3 comments

The sums of money might be big, but they make economic sense. And before you shake your head, mind boggled by the amounts involved, consider this: spending just 1% of global GDP per year on renewable energy will avert catastrophic...

Rio+20: The Future We Want versus the Powerpoint they negotiate ...

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | 25 May, 2012 3 comments

Over the last six months I have been away from home a lot watching our governments editing a powerpoint in windowless rooms. Sounds sad, I know. But the document entitled "The Future We Want" is not just any powerpoint. It´s supposed...

Apple states bold coal-free ambition for iCloud, now must explain how it will get there

Blog entry by Gary Cook | 23 May, 2012 4 comments

Apple has made a bold claim to make all three of its data centres “coal free” and has doubled the amount of solar energy powering its data centre in North Carolina. Apple’s customers certainly appreciate boldness, and will love the...

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