What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human-caused interference with the climate system.
Nations from around the world agreed to the treaty in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997. It entered into force on February 16, 2005. To date, 184 nations have signed and ratified the agreement for the period of 2008 to 2012.
What are the targets?
Under Kyoto, the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is different for each country. Thirty-seven industrialized countries (called "Annex I countries") have agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 per cent from the 1990 level. For the European Union as a group, this represents a target of eight per cent below 1990 levels; for Japan, seven per cent; and for Canada, six per cent.
Where is Canada in terms of its Kyoto commitment?
As of 2007, Canada's emissions were 26 per cent above 1990 levels. Emissions have continued to rise steadily since the treaty was signed. Canada has not produced a plan that will allow it to come close to meeting its Kyoto commitment and is now one of the top 10 global warming polluters in the world.
What is the future of an international climate agreement?
The year 2009 marked a critical point for safeguarding the climate. The global community has been negotiating the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol since 2005 (the first ends in 2012). A conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 marked a deadline for completing these negotiations and agreeing on a framework to fight climate change in the post-2012 period.