In December 1997, a global treaty to reduce emissions of gases which may
be changing the Earth's climate was agreed in Kyoto. The discussions had
almost collapsed because of political infighting. India and China nearly
destroyed the treaty by objecting to an international trade in pollution
permits on the grounds that emissions trading was not fair to poor countries.
THE MAIN KYOTO COMMITMENT
The Kyoto protocol commits developed
countries to making legally-binding
reductions in their emissions of carbon dioxide by 2010, the European
Union countries by eight per cent, the United States by seven per cent and
Japan by six per cent. Other nations were expected to offer six per cent.
Russia, New Zealand, and Ukraine are to stabilize their emissions, while
Norway may increase emissions by up to 1%, Australia by up to 8%, and Iceland
10%. Demonstrable progress on
these commitments will have to be shown by 2005.
The Kyoto agreement gives countries some flexibility in measuring and
achieving their emissions reductions.
A clean development mechanism enables
industrialized countries to finance emissions-reduction projects in
developing countries and receive credit for doing so.
An international emissions
trading regime is planned to allow industrialized countries to buy and
sell excess emissions credits amongst themselves.
MARKETABLE POLLUTION PERMITS -
A STEP CLOSER
One important aspect of the Kyoto Summit is the progress made in
introducing traded pollution permits
as a means of pricing the use of carbons.
Within a decade, under the treaty, industries are likely to have to
buy permits to pollute, if they wish to allow their emissions to grow.
Alternatively they will have to fit energy-saving equipment.
These permits will be tradeable allowing each country to meet some of
their targets by buying up rights to pollute in other countries.
In 1998, the Labour Government published it's own proposals to reduce
carbon dioxide emisions. Arising from this is the introduction of the climate