All the countries who signed up to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change complied with their emission targets, says a new study.
“There is often scepticism about the importance of international law, and many critics claim that the Kyoto Protocol failed. The fact that countries have fully complied is highly significant, and it helps to raise expectations for full adherence to the Paris Agreement,” said Michael Grubb, editor-in-chief of the Climate Policy journal which recently published the study.
The researchers used the final data for national green house gas (GHG) emissions and exchanges in carbon units which only became available at the end of 2015.
An analysis of the data showed that all 36 countries that committed to the Kyoto Protocol surpassed their commitment by 2.4 GtCO2e yr-1 (giga-tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year).
The researchers found that most of these countries reduced their GHG emissions to the levels required by the Kyoto Protocol, with only nine — Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and Switzerland — emitting higher levels.
The nine countries only just overshot their targets — in total by around 1 per cent of the average annual emissions capped under Kyoto — and were able to comply with the protocol using the “flexibility” mechanisms.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that binds its member countries to work for reducing green house gas emission. It was adopted in 1997 and came into force in 2005. It is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), formed in 1992.
The treaty was opened for signature 18 years ago, on March 16, 1998. But only six countries signed it on the opening day. Four of them were small island countries.
The US never ratified the treaty and Canada withdrew. It also left emerging countries like India and China without any reduction commitments.