Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is a result of different developments aimed at globalization in solving economic and environmental problems. It defines the principal elements on which global efforts to solve climate change issues will be based in the 21st century.
Climate changes on Earth are shown as a result of nature processes in all time periods – from dozens to millions of years. In the history of Earth there were ice ages when the climate was colder compared to now, and interglacial periods when the climate was much warmer. These cycles were caused by natural reasons. Modern climate changes are caused by increase in concentration of the greenhouse gases in atmosphere, first of all – of carbon dioxide as a result of combustion of so called conventional fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas. It is because of the greenhouse effect enhancement that we observe the disbalance of established climate system. Among the most evident and noticeable consequences of climate change that are in part seen nowadays: rise in average temperature of the lower layers of the atmosphere, glacier melting; rise in the global ocean level and inundation of coastal territories; increase in frequency and strength of extreme nature phenomena (earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami etc.)
Kyoto Protocol is a global agreement on environment protection based on market mechanisms of regulation – mechanism of international trading in greenhouse gases emissions allowances. The agreement was adopted in Kyoto (Japan) in December 1997, in addition to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and entered into force on 16 February 2005.
Kyoto Protocol anticipates the introduction of specific quantified commitments on reduction or limitation of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouses gases or enhancement of removals by sinks by the Parties to the Annex I to the UNFCCC (industrialized countries and countries with economy in transition). These commitments stipulate the collective reduction of emissions by at least 5% in the first commitment period 2008-2012 compared to the level of base year - 1990.
Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol gives the list of emission categories considered as anthropogenic. Accounting unit of greenhouse gases is a ton of CO2-equivalent, other greenhouse gases are calculated using the relevant factors. The list of greenhouse gases includes: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
Under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol commitments on greenhouse gases emission reduction it is first of all implied the reduction or limitation of the fossil fuel consumption, energy efficiency enhancement, development and wider application of new and renewable energy sources, carbon dioxide absorption technologies and innovative low carbon technologies, as well as measures for limitation and/or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in transport sector. The UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol contribute to both introduction of new efficient technologies in countries that have specific quantified commitments and to their distribution in the developing countries by applying different financial instruments, technology transfer and flexibility mechanisms.
As of 1 January, 2012, Kyoto Protocol was ratified by 193 countries (they are collectively responsible for over 63,7 % of global emissions). The first commitment period commenced on 1 January, 2008 and will last till 31 December, 2012, when it would be supplemented by a new agreement. The recent global negotiations on climate change in Durban in November 2011 resulted in the compromise – duration of the Kyoto Protocol will be extended till 2020, in the meantime a new, stricter agreement on greenhouse gases emission reduction will be developed.
Kyoto Protocol is a complex and innovative document in many aspects. Its main achievement lies in establishing legally significant, quantified specific limitations of greenhouse gas emissions in many industrial countries.
In general, Kyoto Protocol gives new possibilities of additional financing for owners of investment projects in energy efficiency and use of renewable source of energy which result in GHG emission reduction.