The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an historical agreement in that it was the first international agreement in which many of the the world's industrial nations concluded a verifiable agreement to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases in order to prevent global warming. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. 184 Parties of the Convention have ratified its Protocol to date. It is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Logo for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The major distinction between the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” 

Kyoto Protocol project mechanisms
The Kyoto Protocol allows for greenhouse gas emission reductions to be carried out in projects implemented in other countries. These projects can be carried out through the Clean Development Mechanism  (CDM) and Joint Implementation  (JI).  These “project-based” mechanisms allow Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to implement emission reduction projects in other countries in exchange for credits which can be used towards achieving the Kyoto target.

Learn more about Kyoto Protocol project mechanisms