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What is the Kyoto Protocol?

In the early 1990s, members of the United Nations agreed that global warming was an issue that needed to be addressed. On May 9, 1992, members agreed on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but it's loose and vague goals made world governments find it not to be satisfactory. Talks for a more binding agreement started during the first climate change conference in Berlin Germany in 1995.

Two and a half years later, a new arrangement was made in Kyoto Japan on 11 December 1997 and was made open for nations to sign the following year. The established Kyoto Protocol would only take effect 90 days after (1) 55 countries that were part of the UNFCCC and (2) the ratifying countries represented 55 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. When Iceland and Russia ratified the protocol in 2002 and 2004 respectively, the Kyoto Protocol finally entered force on February 16, 2002.

The Kyoto Protocol aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making specific targets for reduction to combat global warming and climate change. In this agreement, countries with industrialized or transitional economies (recognized as Annex I members) were meet specific targets of five percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, members with developing economies were not expected to reach those goals.

In 2012 the protocol was an update at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, where nations committed to reducing emissions by 18 percent below 1990 levels between the eight year period of 2013 and 2020. These commitments were made in the Paris Agreement which was signed at the Climate Change Conference in Paris, France in December 2015.

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Other Sources

Dowdey, Sarah. “How Carbon Trading Works.” How Stuff Works. http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/carbon-trading.htm. Accessed August 9, 2016.

United Nations. “UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.” United Nations. http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/lang/en/pages/gateway/the-negotiations/the-un-climate-change-convention-and-the-kyoto-protocol. Accessed August 9, 2016.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Kyoto Protocol.” United Nations Framework on Climate Change. http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php. Accessed August 9, 2016.

West, Larry. “What is the Kyoto Protocol?” About News. http://environment.about.com/od/kyotoprotocol/i/kyotoprotocol.htm. Accessed August 9, 2016.