Carbon Reduction and The Kyoto Protocol

Carbon Reduction

Across the world, five countries – China, USA, Russia, Japan and India – are responsible for 55.4% of the total carbon emitted from energy consumption. China and the USA account for 40.8% of energy consumption carbon emissions alone. Only Russia’s carbon emissions have decreased since 1980; all others’ have increased. The collapse of the Russian economy following the end of the Soviet Union has had one positive result, the reduction of carbon emission from industry. After a delay of some time, Russia ratified the Kyoto treaty early in November 2004 and now has a substantial number of emissions credits to sell on the global market.

The sixth largest emitter of carbon is Germany, which accounts for 2.7% of the global total. Both Canada and the UK contribute 1.9% of emissions each. While reductions are important everywhere, any change in the volume of carbon emitted by the five larger emitters has a disproportionately significant effect. The same applies to other emissions, principally sulphur and nitrogen oxides. All of these top five are very large users of coal-fired power generation.

The Kyoto Protocol

In December 1997, more than 160 nations met in Kyoto to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, in line with the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 (UNFCC). The outcome of the meeting was the Kyoto Protocol, in which the developed nations agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the levels emitted in 1990. The various Page 7

protocols have been ratified by individual national legislatures, with the notable exception of the US, which emits more greenhouse gases than any other country, and nearly twice as much as the second largest carbon emitter, China. The Kyoto Protocol is a set of quantified greenhouse gas emissions targets for Annex I countries, which collectively are about 5% lower than the 1990 emissions of those countries taken as a group. Developing country signatories do not have quantified targets. Each region and country bound by the Kyoto Protocol, or not as the case may be, is taking its own measures to tackle the issue.

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