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Kyoto Protocol

About Kyoto Protocol

The negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol and its rulebook

When they adopted the Convention, governments knew that its commitments would not be sufficient to seriously tackle climate change. At COP 1 (Berlin, March/April 1995), in a decision known as the Berlin Mandate, Parties therefore launched a new round of talks to decide on stronger and more detailed commitments for industrialized countries. After two and a half years of intense negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997.

The complexity of the negotiations, however, meant that considerable “unfinished business” remained even after the Kyoto Protocol itself was adopted. The Protocol sketched out the basic features of its “mechanisms” and compliance system, for example, but did not flesh out the all-important rules of how they would operate. Although 84 countries signed the Protocol, indicating that they intended to ratify, many were reluctant to actually do so and bring the Protocol into force before having a clearer picture of the treaty’s rulebook.A new round of negotiations was therefore launched to flesh out the Kyoto Protocol’s rulebook, conducted in parallel with negotiations on ongoing issues under the Convention. This round finally culminated at COP 7 with the adoption of the Marrakesh Accords, setting out detailed rules for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. As discussed above, the Marrakesh Accords also took some important steps forwards regarding the implementation of the Convention.

The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and its rulebook

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol shares the Convention’s objective, principles and institutions, but significantly strengthens the Convention by committing Annex I Parties to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Only Parties to the Convention that have also become Parties to the Protocol, however (that is, by ratifying, accepting, approving, or acceding to it), will be bound by the Protocol’s commitments, once it comes into force.The individual targets for Annex I Parties are listed in the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B. These add up to a total cut in greenhouse-gas emissions of at least 5% from 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012.


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