2. What is the Kyoto Protocol?

The Kyoto Protocol is the first major international climate change agreement. It was adopted in 1997 at COP3 in Kyoto and came into effect in 2005.

The Kyoto Protocol implemented the United Nations Framework Convention’s goal of fighting climate change by legally binding 37 industrialized countries and countries in transition to collectively reduce their average GHG emissions over the 2008-2012 period by 5.2% compared to their 1990 levels.(4)

The protocol respects the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility.” This principle recognizes that all countries have a role to play in reducing GHGs, but that efforts must take into account the economic and technological capabilities of each country. Reduction targets were set only for industrialized and transition countries, whereas poorer countries just had to report their emissions.(5)

The collective target was 5.2%, but it varied from country to country. For example, members of the European Union had a GHG reduction target of 8% compared to 1990 levels, whereas Iceland could increase its GHG emissions by 10% compared to the same reference year.(6)

Since then, international negotiations have failed to produce another binding agreement, and much hope rests on the conclusion of such an agreement at the Paris Conference.

4. Ibid., Kyoto Protocol, 2015.
5. United Nations, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, article 10, 1998.
6. Ibid., Annex B.

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