1 National and international mitigation

1.1 The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is well known, at least in name. Although not perfect, it can be considered as the first step towards a truly global agreement aimed at stabilising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing emissions by an average of 5% against 1990 levels over the period 2008–2012. The major difference between the protocol and the convention is that while the convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilise emissions, the protocol commits them to do so, with a heavier burden placed on industrialised nations.

Countries must meet their targets mainly through national measures, although there are also three market-based measures that may be used: emissions trading, the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI). The idea of these mechanisms is to stimulate green investment and help emissions targets to be met in a cost-effective way. JI and CDM are the two mechanisms which feed the carbon market.

Emissions have to be monitored by country and precise trading records kept with registry systems tracking and recording transactions under the mechanisms. The UN Climate Change Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany, and keeps an international transaction log to verify that transactions are within the rules of the protocol. Countries submit national reports and annual emissions inventories and there is a compliance system which aims to ensure that commitments are met or provide and help where required. The Kyoto Protocol is also designed to assist in adapting to the effects of climate change. An adaptation fund was established to support adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries within the Kyoto Protocol and is financed mainly by proceeds from CDM project activities.

1.2 The Bali road map