The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto protocol is one of the most important treaties signed in contemporary days. It has great limitations and is yet to evolve to another level, but it addresses an issue that affects not one, two or ten countries ? it affects the entire world. That is why countries have to work and cooperate to create a binding legal document that sets specific standards to greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent decades we have witnessed a gradual change in our environment. Our planet is heating up very quickly which leads to the so called global warming. Humanity has come to understand that its actions are the cause of this warming. The industries of our industrialized countries emit an enormous amount of green-house gases such as carbon dioxide which heats up the lower atmosphere and thus gradually contributing to global warming (Climate change facts, no date). The effects of global warming can be seen all over the world ? draughts, floods, tsunamis, melting ice caps, snowfall in places such as Israel, spreading diseases (which were unable to survive in the once-cold climate) etc. Besides the environmental degradation, world leaders have to bear in mind the economical implications of this effect ? the melting ice caps will open new trade routes which may pose a threat to some countries (such as Russia), the ever-increasing population of the Earth will soon be starving due to the disappearance of certain crops and species, shifting fishing grounds that may cause disputes over fishing rights between countries, etc.
All of these reasons and effects have made people and most importantly world leaders, realize that there is a need for change in our life so we can secure a normal future for the next generations. There are many things everyone can do to contribute to a cleaner environment ? recycle, use cars less often, use nature friendly products, etc. However, these everyday changes are insignificant when compared to the enormous pollution caused by production facilities of all sorts. This is why the leaders of the most advanced countries have realized that something must be done on a larger scale.
Their answer to the issue is the Kyoto Protocol. This protocol is a part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc). It has been open for signing since December 1997 and is operational since 2005 and currently more than 160 countries have ratified it. It incorporates a number of legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Countries that have signed the protocol agree to cut their emissions to a level slightly bellow the level in 1990 (there are variations in percentage and base year). The idea is to make a distinction between two levels of countries ? Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries. Annex 1 countries are considered to be more dangerous to the environment so they have to make specified cuts in their emissions or suffer a penalty. Non-Annex 1 countries are generally developing nations are presuming their economic level is not that high ? they are not required to cut emissions, rather to monitor the process and prepare for action.
The Kyoto Protocol is only the first step in this direction. What is astonishing is that this is one of the few treaties that has an almost universal participation around the world. Country leaders have recognized the need for a decisive move in an environmental friendly direction and have enacted the treaty to tackle this world-wide issue. By committing to reduce their emissions or be sanctioned, countries give up a little sovereignty for the greater good of humanity. It is important that country leaders have realized that this is a necessary step however hard it may be to give up sovereignty. Another plus of the protocol is that there is a trading emissions clause incorporated in it. If a country can not meet its obligations it can purchase credits from other countries that have an excess. These credits are more often purchased by companies to cover their emissions targets in front of their home government. Even so, the business with emissions trading has grown exponentially in recent years and is now estimated to be near 6 billion $ per year.
Although everything so far sounds very good, there is also a lot of criticism towards the Kyoto Protocol. On one hand there are countries that say that the protocol does not do enough concerning the issue. On the other hand there people that say the global warming is not caused by humans (besides the scientific evidence of it), that the protocol should not be binding on its members, even that the protocol is a scheme to transfer money to poorer countries initiated by socialist plotters (Kyoto Protocol, no date). Another criticism that was the reason for the usa not to join the party is that the distinction between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries is not clear and there are countries that should fall under different categories (such as China and Kazakhstan). Another negative argument is that the protocol will have an insignificant overall effect and that humanity should concentrate on adapting to global warming rather than wasting initial investments in cutting emissions.

Being the first step of humanity towards a sustainable economy and lifestyle, the Kyoto Protocol is unrefined and misses some points of the issue. However, it is obligatory that governments take the initiative of bringing the protocol further in its purpose of legally binding cuts of greenhouse gases. In the succeeding meetings between country leaders this should be a priority topic as it affects not only us at this point in time, but will affect the future generations. This is why I think that the protocol is one great achievement of international relations and humanity as a whole and should be supported and ratified by every country, as well as being updated and upgraded regularly.

The Kyoto Protocol 8.5 of 10 on the basis of 4349 Review.