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Kyoto Protocol

Adopted in December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlights the international community's attitude towards the phenomenon of climate change. The Protocol entered into force in 2005.

Under the Kyoto's Protocol first commitment period, the industrialised countries committed to reducing their emissions of 6 greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) by an average of 5% between 2008-2012 compared with 1990 levels. The EU and 15 EU countries -its members at the time Kyoto was adopted -committed to an 8% cut for the bloc as a whole.

To bridge the gap between the end of the 1st Kyoto period in 2012 and the start of the new global agreement in 2020, an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the Doha (Qatar) climate change conference in December 2012.

Parties agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 18% below 1990 levels in the 2013-2020 period. The EU, the EU countries and Iceland have agreed to meet a 20% reduction target to be fulfilled jointly and are on track to do so. Furthermore, the list of GHGs covered by the Protocol was extended to include nitrogen trifluoride.

Under the Protocol, parties must meet their targets primarily through national measures. However, the Protocol also offers them additional means to meet their targets by way of 3 market-based mechanisms.

The Kyoto mechanisms are:

  • emissions trading between parties which signed the Protocol,
  • joint implementation of projects by these parties, and
  • the clean development mechanism (with parties which did not sign the Protocol).

Under the Protocol, parties' actual emissions are monitored and precise records are kept of the trades carried out. The Commission publishes annually the Kyoto and EU 2020 Progress Report, which provides information about the progress made by the European Union and EU countries towards their greenhouse gas emission targets.