Kyoto Protocol and
Susan R. Fletcher
Latest update on Kyoto Protocol: [Additional content provided by NCSE]
National Academy of Sciences
In the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), finalized for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world's nations agreed on voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States was one of the first to sign and to ratify the UNFCCC in 1992. When it appeared that nations would fail to meet voluntary emission limits, parties to the UNFCCC entered into negotiations on a protocol to establish legally binding emissions limitations. These negotiations resulted in the December 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC in which the parties agreed to binding limitations of greenhouse gases for the 38 developed countries and economies in transition (former Communist nations), including the United States (listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC and referred to as "Annex I countries."
The Kyoto Protocol, in which the United States would be obligated to reduce its emissions of 6 greenhouse gases by 7% below 1990 levels, averaged over the period 2008-2012, was signed by the United States on November 12, 1998. As of November 27, 2000, the Kyoto Protocol secretariat indicated that 84 nations had signed the Kyoto Protocol, and 31 had ratified. The protocol specifies that it can enter into force only when industrialized countries accounting for 55% of 1990 greenhouse gases have ratified it. To date, none of the major industrialized/developed countries has ratified the Protocol.
The United States is unlikely to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the near future; the United States Senate indicated in S.Res. 98, passed 95-0 in July 1997, that the United States should not approve a treaty unless developing countries participate in emissions limitations. The Clinton Administration stated that it would not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent if key developing countries did not also undertake binding commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The large developing countries responsible for the most significant greenhouse gas emissions such as India, China, and Brazil remain opposed to making such commitments.
At the conclusion of negotiations in Kyoto in 1997 a number of the more difficult issues were left for future clarification and finalization The following year, at the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP-4) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 2-14, 1998, efforts to resolve these issues failed to achieve consensus, and major political and technical decisions were put off until the sixth conference of the parties, (COP-6) held November 13-25, 2000, in The Hague, Netherlands.
Work in The Hague centered initially on the "Buenos Aires Plan of Action" (BAPA), but evolved into a high-level negotiation over the major political issues. These included major controversy over the United States' proposal to allow credit for carbon "sinks" in forests and agricultural lands, satisfying a major proportion (between half and one-quarter, according to various versions of the U.S. proposal) of the U.S. emissions reductions in this way; disagreements over consequences for non-compliance by countries that did not meet their emission reduction targets; and difficulties in resolving how developing countries could obtain financial assistance to deal with adverse effects of climate change and meet their obligations to plan for measuring and possibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the final hours of COP-6, despite some compromises agreed between the United States and some EU countries, notably the United Kingdom, the EU countries as a whole, led by Denmark and Germany, rejected the compromise positions, and the talks in The Hague collapsed. Jan Pronk, the President of the COP, suspended COP-6 without agreement, with the expectation that they would resume, probably at meetings in mid- to late July 2001 in Bonn, Germany. COP-7 will be held in October 2001 in Marrakech, Morocco. Attempts to revisit the discussions in the first half of December in Ottawa were termed "inconclusive" by U.S. negotiators. The Bush Administration requested that the summer meetings be delayed until July, to give the new administration additional time to consider their positions, and on February 12, COP-6 President Pronk announced that the meetings would be delayed.
(See CRS Report RL30692, Global Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol, [pdf: 8/13/01] [html: 4/11/01] for more details; also, see Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the COP-6 negotiations).
CRS Report RL30692, Global Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol. [pdf: 8/13/01] [html: 4/11/01]
CRS Report 98-235, Global Climate Change: Reducing Greenhouse Gases: How Much from What Baseline?
UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol
This is the official website of the UNFCCC. It offers links to full text of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Other choices at this site include future meetings and a variety of information about these agreements.
Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the November 13 -
25, 2000, meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, of the 6th Conference of the
Parties (COP-6) to the UNFCCC.
This summary by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) provides a review of the issues and negotiations on key Kyoto Protocol questions in The Hague, including information on positions taken by various nations and groups.
Summary of the September 4 - 15, 2000, preparatory meetings
held in Lyon, France, for the COP-6 meeting to be held November 13-24, 2000, at The Hague,
Summary of the November 2-14, 1998, meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina of the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP-4) to the UNFCCC
The Buenos Aires COP-4 meeting was the first meeting of the UNFCC Parties since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted.
Developed and Developing Countries: Annex I and Annex B
Countries and Commitments Earth Negotiations Bulletin This website provides day to day reporting by the Earth
Negotiations Bulletin on negotiating sessions, plus summary editions (like the ones
referenced above) at the conclusion of major meetings. It also provides links to other
documents and sites of interest. U.S. State Department This website provides U.S. submissions for consideration in
COP-6 negotiations in November 2000 in The Hague. http://www.state.gov/www/global/global_issues/climate/index.cfm This website provides U.S./Clinton Administration
positions, summaries of the Kyoto Protocol and U.S. climate change initiatives. Extensive discussion, analysis, and criticism of the
Administration Proposals can be found in other web sites. Page last updated March 9, 2001.
Earth Negotiations Bulletin
This website provides day to day reporting by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin on negotiating sessions, plus summary editions (like the ones referenced above) at the conclusion of major meetings. It also provides links to other documents and sites of interest.
U.S. State Department
This website provides U.S. submissions for consideration in COP-6 negotiations in November 2000 in The Hague.
This website provides U.S./Clinton Administration positions, summaries of the Kyoto Protocol and U.S. climate change initiatives.
Extensive discussion, analysis, and criticism of the
Administration Proposals can be found in other web sites.
Page last updated March 9, 2001.