What is the significance of Kyoto Protocol?



The Third Conference of Parties [COP- 3] to the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change was held in Kyoto, Japan from Dec 1 to 11, 1997. It is an amendment to the international treaty on climate change. It assigned mandatory emission limitation for reduction to carbon dioxide and five other green house gases to the signatory nations.

The objective of the protocol is the stabilizations in the atmosphere. Under the protocol Annex-I (39 industrialized) countries are required to bring down green house gases emission to 5.2% below their 1990 level.

The countries of the developing world are exempted from making targeted reductions but are to measure their emissions. According to the protocol, the participant Annex-1 countries can do so by taking actions in their own countries or by using one of the three flexibility mechanisms provided by the protocol.

These are International Emission Trading, Joint Implementation or Clean Development Mechanism. Of these, first two apply to developed countries while CDM is a mechanism between the developed and developing countries. The concept of emission trading implies that a country that has a higher emission level than that prescribed can buy quotas from countries that have emission levels lower than that prescribed.

The joint implementation package implies that countries that are financing emission reduction measures in other countries would be allowed to accumulate credits to emit green house gases. The CDM (Clean Developed Mechanism) was defined in the protocol for funding of project activities in developing countries for mitigating climate change which would allow the developed, countries to gain credit for investing in developing countries.

The Kyoto Protocol came into force on Feb 16, 2005 and the committed period of the protocol is 2008-12. This Kyoto Protocol convention on climate change has turned the emission reduction of green house gases (GHGs) into a tradable commodity and the certified emission reduction is commonly known as carbon credit. India has taken a highly proactive approach to Clean Development Mechanisms from the very beginning.

It is playing a leading role in the design of the mechanism and its modalities. Domestically the country has taken measures to set up systems to facilitate CDM implementation as well. But this Kyoto Protocol is facing criticism due to following reasons such as-

i. There is no major reduction in emission of GHGS. There is no provision for a mechanism for monitoring. So, until both are set up the protocol will have little value.

ii. According to another point of view the protocol has failed to win even a theoretical agreement from the 136-non Annex-I countries to be ready to reduce their emissions at some specified time in future. It is the conference's biggest failure.