Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations recognised that climate change was indeed a problem and the General Assembly agreed to set up the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1992. At the Rio Conference that same year, countries signed on to the Convention.

In 1995, the UNFCCC held its first Conference of the Parties (COP) in Berlin, Germany, and parties embarked on a negotiation process to make the Convention legally binding. This is known as the Berlin Mandate.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding agreement, was adopted at the third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.

Recognising that developed countries (Annex 1 Parties) are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities".

The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the "Marrakesh Accords". Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.

In Doha, Qatar, on December 8, 2012, the "Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol" was adopted. The amendment includes:

  • New commitments for Annex 1 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020;
  • A revised list of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period; and
  • Amendments to several articles to the Kyoto Protocol which specifically referenced issues pertaining to the first commitment period and which needed to be updated for the second commitment period.