UPSC Exam   »   Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol

 

Kyoto Protocol: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

About Kyoto Protocol

  • COP 3 of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) took place in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
  • It saw certain commitments and a roadmap to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets. These commitments are known as Kyoto Protocol.
  • Kyoto Protocol established certain legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Kyoto Protocol: Important facts

  • It entered into force on 16 February 2005.
  • India ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002.
  • While USA never was a part of Kyoto Protocol, Canada withdrew from it in 2012.
  • Currently, there are 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

 

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Kyoto Protocol: Targets for the first commitment period

The targets for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol cover emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, namely:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • Methane (CH4);
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O);
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs);
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

 

Adaptation Fund

  • An Adaptation Fund was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The Fund is financed with the share of proceeds from clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities and other sources.

 

Kyoto Protocols: Principles

  • The Kyoto Protocol only binds developed countries, and places a heavier burden on them under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”, because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Aim: Fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
  • In its Annex B, the Kyoto Protocol sets binding emission reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Union.
  • Overall, these targets add up to an average 5 per cent emission reduction compared to 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008–2012.

 

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Doha Amendment

  • In Doha, Qatar, in 2012, the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted for a second commitment period, starting in 2013 and lasting until 2020.
  • However, the Doha Amendment has not yet entered into force.

The amendment includes

  • New commitments for Annex I Parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2020;
  • A revised list of GHG to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period; and
  • Amendments to several articles of the Kyoto Protocol which specifically referenced issues pertaining to the first commitment period and which needed to be updated for the second commitment period.

 

The Kyoto mechanisms

  • One important element of the Kyoto Protocol was that it established a flexible market mechanism, which are based on the trade of emissions permits.
  • Under the Protocol, countries must meet their targets primarily through national measures.
  • However, the Protocol also offers them an additional means to meet their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms:

 

International Emissions Trading

  • Emissions trading allows countries that have emission units to spare i.e., the emission target allocated to the country but has not been used, to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets.
  • Thus, a new commodity was created in the form of emission reductions or removals.
  • Since carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas, people often call a mechanism for trading in carbon, thus known as carbon market.

 

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

  • The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows a country with an emission-reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries.
  • Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.
  • The mechanism is seen by many as a trailblazer. It is the first global, environmental investment and credit scheme of its kind, providing a standardized emissions offset instrument, CERs.
  • A CDM project activity might involve, for example, a rural electrification project using solar panels or the installation of more energy-efficient boilers.

 

Joint Implementation

  • Joint implementation allows a country with an emission reduction or limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to earn emission reduction units (ERUs) from an emission-reduction or emission removal project in another Annex B Party, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting its Kyoto target.
  • Joint implementation offers Parties a flexible and cost-efficient means of fulfilling a part of their Kyoto commitments, while the host Party benefits from foreign investment and technology transfer.

 

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