What is the Kyoto Protocol?

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that determines the adoption of measures to reduce the emission of gases that cause the greenhouse effect and aggravate global warming.

The Protocol was signed in 1997 by member countries of the United Nations (UN). The document, which was signed and ratified by 173 countries, came into force in 2004. Fiji was the first country to sign the Protocol, still in 1997 and Turkey was the last to accede, signing the document in 2008. Brazil signed the Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2002.

All countries that were part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change were asked to sign the Protocol. This Convention was elaborated during Rio 92, a conference held by the UN to discuss environmental problems and create strategies to combat them.

The Convention determined the urgent need to combat the emission of greenhouse gases, but it was only in the Kyoto Protocol that the necessary measures were described.

Objectives of the Kyoto Protocol

The fundamental objective that led to the creation of the document is to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), the main responsible for the worsening of the greenhouse effect and the effects of global warming.

The document also determines the need to find ways to enable economic and industrial development without generating environmental damage.

To achieve this goal, certain obligations have been defined. The main ones are:

  • creating or improving policies to increase countries’ energy efficiency;
  • developing more sustainability in agriculture to combat and mitigate the negative effects of climate change;
  • determination of measures capable of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases;
  • creation of effective means to carry out waste treatment;
  • creation and application of forest protection policies, such as combating fires and deforestation;
  • inclusion of transport and energy generation services in the measures adopted;
  • evaluation and cancellation of economic policies that are contrary to the objectives set out in the Protocol.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the main goal of the Kyoto Protocol.

Clean Development Mechanism

Countries that have signed the Protocol can use the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The method acts as a platform for certifying ideas and projects that are efficient in the task of reducing gas emissions.

Certificates can be sold to countries that have not yet met their target to assist them in meeting emissions reductions. They are called Carbon Credits or Certified Emission Reduction .

Developed and developing countries

The countries that are part of the Protocol have been divided into two groups: developed and developing.

Developed countries are those that have already reached a certain level of industrialization and are therefore forced to reduce their gas emission rates. This group includes countries such as Germany, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg and France.

For most of these, the initial determination was to reduce emissions by 5.2% compared to 1990 levels. Japan should reduce emissions by 7% and European Union member countries have received an 8% reduction target. . It was determined that in the period between 2008 and 2012 (first commitment period), emissions should already be demonstrably reduced.

In the second commitment period, between 2013 and 2020, emissions should be reduced to the 18% mark.

Developing countries, on the other hand, did not receive targets for reducing gas emissions, but were invited to participate with the implementation of the other measures described in the document. They are part of the group, for example: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia.

The largest emitters of carbon dioxide

At the time of signing the Protocol, the countries that had the highest emissions of carbon dioxide were:

  1. United States (36.1%)
  2. Russia (17.4%)
  3. Japan (8.5%)
  4. Germany (7.4%)
  5. United Kingdom (4.3%)

United States, despite being the champion in gas emissions, is not committed to the Protocol’s goals. The decision not to ratify the Protocol was motivated by economic reasons, at the time of the refusal it was alleged that the implementation of the reduction measures would cause damage to the national economy.

The Kyoto Conference

The Conference was held in the city of Kyoto / Japan in December 1997. At the event it was decided that an international document would be drawn up that would determine what measures should be taken to reduce the volume of greenhouse gas emissions.

It was also determined that the Protocol would only come into force and begin to oblige signatory countries to take action when at least 55 countries had already signed the document.

What is the greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse effect is the warming of the planet , a natural phenomenon that, under the right conditions, is responsible for the preservation of life on Earth.

However, the excess release of harmful gases impairs the balance of the effect and causes the global temperature to rise higher each year. These gases also reach the ozone layer and decrease protection against the arrival of ultraviolet rays, aggravating global warming.

To learn more about the subject, also see the meanings of greenhouse effect and global warming and better understand the relationship between them .


by Abdullah Sam
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