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Kyoto - What's it all About?

Polar bears are especially at risk if ice sheets continue to meltImage: AP

The facts are clear: Global temperatures have risen 0.6°C in the last 140 years and most scientists predict that the Earth will warm 1.4 - 5.8°C by 2100. An overwhelming majority of climate experts agree the main reason for this is due to certain gases emitted by fossil fuel burning and other human activities such as intensive agriculture. These greenhouse gases, (the major one being CO2) are causing more of the sun’s energy to be trapped inside the Earth's atmosphere, increasing the global temperature.

Member countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, came up with the Kyoto Protocol. Ratified by 84 countries, the protocol forces over 30 industrialised countries to reduce their emissions by an average of five percent below what they pumped out in 1990. They have until 2012 to do this.

A number of "flexible mechanisms" in the Kyoto Protocol are helping countries to reach their goals:

  • The Emissions Trading scheme allows nations to purchase "carbon credits" from other countries who are well within their reduction goals.
  • The Clean Development Mechanism, CDM gives richer nations credits if they invest in clean energy projects like wind and solar power in developing countries.
  • Joint implementation is a cooperative approach among industrialised countries to jointly set up projects that help each other reduce emissions.

Below are links to articles explaining different aspects of the Kyoto Protocol and climate change in general.

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