Introduction to Climate Change

9. The Kyoto Protocol

Not since the 1992 Earth Summit had so much press and attention been paid to an international environmental negotiation as was paid to the Kyoto negotiations. The core of the Kyoto Protocol is targets and timetables, or 'quantified emissions limitation and reduction objectives' (QELROs), for industrialized (Annex I) Parties to reduce their net emissions of greenhouse gases. Most European countries agreed to lower their emission 8% below 1990 levels, while the United States agreed to a 7% reduction All of the reduction targets must be met over a five year commitment period-from 2008 to 2012-which is to be followed by subsequent commitment periods and presumably stricter emission targets.

In addition to the targets and timetables, the Kyoto Protocol also set forth broad and general guidance for four different flexibility mechanisms, including emissions trading, joint implementation, the EO's bubble, and a new initiative called the "Clean Development Mechanism." Parameters were also set for a compliance and monitoring system and for the accounting of at least certain land use and forestry activities that could alter carbon reservoirs or sinks.