Effects to Date
Is it Our Fault?
Kyoto Agreement, key
Kyoto is a legally binding agreement between
signed-up countries to meet emissions reduction targets of all greenhouse gases by 2012
relative to 1990 levels.
No. of countries which took part in the discussions
(in 1997): 141
No. of (industrialised) countries which ratified the agreement
(in 2001): 34
Reason for delay: the agreement needed countries responsible for 55% of
1990 emissions to ratify - after the USA refused in 2001, Russian ratification
was needed - this was only obtained in Nov'04.
Overall average emissions target: 5.4%
UK target: 12.5%
Some eco-advanced countries have agreed to
high emissions targets; e.g. Germany and Denmark 21%
Some less advanced countries are allowed to
increase emissions: e.g. Greece +25%, Spain +15%, Ireland
The large developing countries,
especially China, India and Brazil, took part in the discussions but were not
expected to have reduction targets.
Europe) 40 Euros per tonne of greenhouse
gas. Also, after 2012, shortfalls to be added to any new target and multiplied
Review: annual meetings;
next: Montreal, late Nov '05.
Market-based approach: to give incentives
through carbon trading; e.g. a company or country finding it expensive to
achieve an emissions reduction has the alternative of paying money ("buying
credits") so that the money can be used elsewhere on projects where an
equivalent emissions reduction can be achieved at less cost. Conversely, a
company or country exceeding its target receives money ("selling credits"). In
Europe, carbon is being traded at around £10 per tonne.
Sceptics say that Kyoto involves a lot of
expense to achieve small emissions reductions - probably true but it was at
least a first international agreement to try to reduce carbon emissions after
much prevarication. We must hope that agreement for more effective emissions
reductions will soon be reached.