The Kyoto Protocol. Reaching Global Agreements 1997. Key Idea – only the one. Environmental abuse has serious consequences. Its causes need to be tackled to ensure a more sustainable future. But there are still 3 sections to study …. Section 3 (new).
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Reaching Global Agreements 1997
A global Agreement that set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
175 countries signed up
In some countries government policies or loopholes in subsidy regulations actually promote \'bad practice\' in GHG emissions. Phase these out will push business and industry towards less polluting practices.
Limit GHG from transport
Phase out any incentives for ‘bad practice’
GHG from transport is a big problem and getting bigger. Several government initiatives around the world have already arisen from Kyoto to cut transport GHG emissions.
The development of dual fuel and electric vehicle technologies holds a great potential for cutting down this source of GHG. Some American states have set targets for clean fuel vehicles.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, having about 20 times the climate forcing effect of carbon dioxide. Big man-made producers of methane are landfill sites
Large landfill sites now commonly have these methane power stations which have the double attraction of producing energy and getting rid of the methane, albeit a carbon dioxide. Solid waste energy plants already operate successfully in the UK, using the methane generated from chicken manure to create power
Limit methane emissions through recovery and use
A theme which runs through much of the Kyoto protocol is for countries to cooperate. Sharing both advances in GHG technology and science. the greatest achievement of the protocol so far is to get so many countries together and talking on a central issue.
Cut GHG from aviation
This one was never implemented as no-one could decide who would monitor it as international travel made an agreement to hard to reach.
A cautionary note in Kyoto is to be careful of the wider impacts GHG reduction schemes may have. Some may be too costly to maintain for the benefit they provide, others may cause an unreasonable degree of disruption to the populace, industry etc.
Hydroelectric dams are a good example of this. At first sight they seem to be all to the good as far as reducing GHG goes. However, not only does their construction often mean the loss of much land,and the displacement of its animals and humans, it can also end it up to be quite a big GHG emitter. Much of the organic matter washed into the lake behind the dam decays anaerobically in the depths, rather than aerobically as it would have done in the original river. This anaerobic break down produces lots of methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas than the normal CO2.
Be careful of wider impact - avoid adverse effects
This article states that countries will stick to their agreed commitments, but does not specify what the penalties will be if you don’t. The EU and others wanted real penalties for failure, but other countries disagreed. This was one of the sources of contention over which the EU finally gave in to at the Bonn conference.
Keep to assigned amounts of GHG with overall worldwide reduction by at least 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012
Everyone must have shown progress by 2005
The idea of this target is to get countries actively reducing their emissions before the first commitment period arrives (2008).
The key problem here was how to establish what changes have occurred, again a source of much wrangling between countries.
Verifiable changes since 1990 in GHG emissions by sources and removals by sinks due to direct human-induced land-use change and forestry can be used to meet commitments
Although cutting emissions from fossil fuels should be the focus of efforts to limit global warming, forestry and land management activities can provide part of the answer. With their being a recognised part of Kyoto GHG balancing - tree planting schemes like this one in Mexico could become commonplace.
Everyone must supply their level of ‘carbon stocks’ in 1990 so the change since can be estimated. BUT what sinks, sources and ‘additional activities’ which can be added or subtracted from GHG reduction commitments?
Countries can meet their commitments together
All countries will have in place, at least a year before the first commitment period (2008), a national system for measuring GHG emission changes
The carbon budget for the earth as a whole is extremely complex, but our best models of the system suggest an increase in carbon in the atmosphere of about 3Gt per year. These kind of budgets need to be formulated as accurately as possible for each country
This is one of the so called \'flexibility mechanisms\' designed to help rich (annexe 1) countries meet their Kyoto commitment other than by directly cutting in their own emissions. It caused some of the biggest arguments , but it is agreed that without them the agreed reduction targets would have had to have been much smaller.
Russia, currently going through economic instability but with a range of ‘dirty’ technology has been a large recipientof investment from the west, that then claim the savings made in emissions to off-set their own
Joint implementation - Countries can work together to meet their emission reduction targets
All countries will supply the extra information needed with the numbers it gives i.e. perceived wider impacts
All the information given by each country will be reviewed by expert, independent, review teams
All countries should develop national and/or regional programmes to both limit GHG emissions and improve the quality of GHG data via consistent methods. Cooperate
The protocol will be regularly reviewed in light of the best information available at the time
The richer countries will provide funds and technology to developing countries to help them better advance towards GHG reduction
This is another \'flexibility mechanisms\' designed to help rich (annexe I) countries meet their Kyoto commitment. The clean development mechanism allows governments or private entities in rich countries to set up emission reduction projects in developing countries. They get credit for these reductions as \'certified emission reductions (CER\'s). This system is different form the Joint Implementation as it promotes sustainable development on developing countries.
CDM can use afforestation (planting somewhere new) and reforestation (replanting where there once was some), or some other emissions reduction project like a rural electrification project using solar panels in a developing country .
[Recall they were also going to pay for not cutting down trees but that was delayed until the implementation of REDD]
The Clean Development Mechanism
The final flexibility mechanism. A tradable carbon credit unit called AAU\'s (Assigned Amount Units) has been proposed which would represent one tonne of CO2 emissions. The advantages of this trading are that it drives countries to better efficiency in their own greenhouse gas emissions. Bur there is a worry that some rich countries will simply \'buy off\' the GHG they produce and not take any action themselves. the idea of a \'cap on the amount of trading has been suggested, but has produced even more argument\'.
Emissions trading - countries can trade in ‘emission units’
Some delayed in signing up to Kyoto such as Russia who signed in 2004
USA initially signed but then withdrew in 2001 following GW Bush’s election (USA emit 25% of world emissions)
Renewable energy can only supply 10-15% of the UK’s energy needs
Must replace coal fired with nuclear power stations
Building nuclear power plants takes time
Unfortunately these rely on removing plants from the planet thus removing a carbon sink and need to be followed by mass replanting schemes
Growing biofuels reduces the land available to grow food and increases food prices as well as leaving more people liable to an inadequate diet
More extreme weather leads to increased costs equal to 1% of GDP
2-3oC rise in temps reducing global economic output by 3%
Poor countries ability to cope would be reduced with lack of basics like water
It may be worth looking at the stuff on Cancun (COP 16 2010) in the bloghttp://lindym.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/cancun-hopes-to-serve-oven-ready-redd-deal/
and other article with Cancun – do a search – top right of the page.
Also the Durban round in December 2011, COP 17, at
Also as another example of a current impact: