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Blog Action Day: Broken Promises, Missed Opportunities

For as long as we've been an ungrateful species, she has forgiven us. For the many crimes that we have committed against our fellow siblings, she has only warned “one day it would come back to haunt us.” Mother Nature has given us nothing but the best she could have offered, we took it and smiled.

Back in 1997, we made a promise amongst ourselves. A promise some of us have kept. A promise some of us knew we couldn’t keep. The Kyoto Protocol was that promise. It was an amendment, an international treaty, to address climate change—assigning a mandatory emissions reduction in greenhouse gasses. We made it five years ago but as of 2007, 172 countries have confirmed this agreement. The Kyoto Protocol was a small step, but it was no victory.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) wanted a “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Governments were divided into two parts, developed and developing. Annex I (developed) countries agreed to a greenhouse gas emission reduction obligation and to submit an annual greenhouse gas inventory; non-Annex I (developing) countries did not have a greenhouse gas emission reduction obligation but may participate in the Clean Development Mechanism.

By 2012, Annex I countries have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a collective average of 5% below their 1990 levels, compared to the emission levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this limitation represent a 29% cut. [Side note: the European Union member states, has corresponded with 15% below their expected greenhouse gas emissions]

Annex I countries can also meet their limitations by purchasing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from other Annex I countries or from Annex I countries with excess allowances so long as they are CDM Executive Board-accredited Certified Emission Reductions (CER). CDM Projects in Non-Annex I must also be approved before receiving CER. Joint Implementation (JI) is also a similar scheme covering mainly former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Non-Annex I economies can practice a “Greenhouse Gas Project” and will receive “Carbon Credit” which can be sold to Annex I buyers. This is intended to help those countries that are highly efficient, low greenhouse gas polluting industries, and high prevailing environmental standards; these countries have done this but still choose to participate in the agreement. This, in turn, encourages Non-Annex I to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since it can now be seen as an economical product—and thereby profitable through the sale of “Carbon Credits.”

All Annex-I parties have established a Designated National Authorities to monitor their greenhouse gas obligations. Many countries have started funds and supported multilateral carbon funds with the intent to purchase “Carbon Credits” from Non-Annex Countries. Nearly all non-Annex I countries have set up their own designated authorities as well. As with any exchange, non-Annex I countries want to sell at maximum value of “Carbon Credits” and Annex I countries want to buy “Carbon Credits” as cheaply as possible.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 2004
Climate Change Convention
Post-Kyoto negotiations have envisioned a global cap-and-trade system that would apply to both industrialized nations and developing countries. On June 7, 2007 the 33rd G8 summit would “aim to at least halve global CO2 emissions by 2050. NASA anticipates the tipping point within 10 years, 2017.

For five years now, this obligation has been a glaring reminder of who we really are. Mother Nature will survive; it is only a matter or whether or not we will be here to see it. I think its time we stop lying to her, she deserves at least that much.


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Tainted Dragon said...

Then there was one: US now alone as Kyoto holdout

Tainted Dragon said...

Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol