Kyoto Protocol And Global Warming

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Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming

Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming


The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by establishing reduction targets for participating nations. It is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and was signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. The Protocol is based on the belief that increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a major cause of global warming, a position supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is modeled in many respects on the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that focuses on the reduction of ozone-depleting substances to restore the planet's ozone layer, which is widely regarded as a success. By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol was off to a slower start in achieving significant progress in meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets (Grubb, 2009).

The Kyoto Protocol went into effect in February 2005, The Protocol calls for the reduction of the six primary greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The most significant human-caused sources of greenhouse gas emissions are use of fossil fuels (especially petroleum and coal), deforestation, and use of chlorofluorocarbons.


Much of the concern about global warming has been directed toward the so-called greenhouse effect. Actually, the greenhouse effect, which is essential to life on this planet, is created by a naturally occurring blanket of air, or ozone layer, that protects the earth from the sun's extreme heat. However, scientists have distinguished between this natural greenhouse effect and the anthrogenic or unnatural greenhouse effect that is created by the buildup of industrial pollutants that contribute to global warming (Grubb, 2009).

Most scientists agree that global warming is caused by the emissions of fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide and other gases, such as methane, nitrogen oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere. The greatest pollutants are coal and oil, but natural gas has also contributed to the effects of global warming. By the end of the 20th century, scientists had also documented an increase in the amount of chlorine in the atmosphere, amounting to more than a 600-percent rise over levels of the previous 40 years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001).

This increase of chlorine in the atmosphere also interferes with the way that ultraviolet radiation is blocked. Deforestation has also contributed to global warming because trees serve as natural barriers to trap pollutants and prevent them from being released into the atmosphere. If the earth's temperature increases beyond a certain point, the flooding of coastal areas could result in the rapid spread of infectious diseases, and the world's food supply might be threatened by extensive draught (Hovi, 2003).

As a result of this apparent congruence between theoretical expectations and observations, many scientists, policymakers, and environmentalists believe that action to reduce future emissions of temperature-raising GHGs is imperative (Sharon, 2007).

Since 1997, more than 150 nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce emissions of CO2. The Kyoto Protocol is a first step toward mitigating ...
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