Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is still considered as among the greatest achievements in the initiatives to curtail global warming, although it can be a spectacular failure.

Launched in the winter of 1997, the protocol was designed to establish a broad agreement between countries around the world to restrict emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. Due to the too complex membership process and split ratification standards, it took until first quarter of 2005 before it became enforced. Negotiations were lengthy, complex and fractious and getting to that momentous day in 2005 proved a journey in itself.

Signing up to the Kyoto Protocol did not place enough bearing. When a country agreed to ratify Kyoto Protocol's conditions, it is then that it would actually come into force, and merely signing it did not mean anything. Ratification ensured that the country would actively participate in reducing emissions against a specified target. Those who were unable to do so would need to engage in emissions trading, buying credits from participating countries which had been able to reduce their emissions beyond the specification.

According to the Kyoto Protocol sponsor, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, this treaty aimed to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in air at a level that would not interfere with the natural climate system." To this day, 183 parties have ratified the protocol with the latest major standout to sign up being Australia.

For the Kyoto Protocol to work, it needed to assess the problem as a global one and quite rightly so. It is oblivious to believe that a few countries agreeing to reduce emissions and sign a Protocol would solve the problem, when other countries which did not might just even increase their emissions. The problem as a whole would be the same or worse.

The fact that the United States, by most standards one of the worst contributors to the problem, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has almost doomed it, effectively to failure. We may add on to this the fact that emerging giants India and China put even more pressure on the very principles, as they are not obligated, within the protocol, to reduce greenhouse gas production as "developing countries."

China is about to overtake the United States in volume of emissions and between the two countries will account for the lion's share of dangerous greenhouse gas production and emission around the world. Some would argue that there seems no point in the other countries attempting to trade down their emissions if the largest culprits are not participating and may indeed even be exacerbating the issue.

Although the Kyoto Protocol can't be the end-of-it-all in achieving carbon emissions reduction, it can be considered as the most historic movement in addressing issues in carbon reduction. Within the United States as well as the United Kingdom other initiatives are afoot to actively reduce carbon emissions. The world will now wait until later in 2010 to truly understand the final resolutions that will guide the future Kyoto Protocol.