The Kyoto Protocol provided that 37 industrialized countries and the EU would reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Developing countries were invited to voluntarily commit and more than 100 developing countries, including China and India, were totally excluded from the Kyoto agreement. The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which requires States Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that global warming is taking place (part 1) and (part two) it is very likely that human-caused CO2 emissions are the majority cause. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and came into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew from the protocol as of December 2012). The 1997 Kyoto Protocol – an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – is the only legally binding treaty in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2001 and unfairly characterized the treaty because it only required industrialized countries to reduce their emissions and felt that it would hamper the U.S. economy. The protocol provided countries with several ways to achieve their goals. One approach was to use natural processes, called “wells,” that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Planting trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the air would be an example. Another approach was the international Clean Development Mechanism (MDP), which encouraged developed countries to invest in technologies and infrastructure in less developed countries, where there were often significant ways to reduce emissions. Under the CDM, the invested country could claim an effective reduction in emissions as a credit to meet its obligations under the protocol. For example, an investment in a clean natural gas plant to replace a planned coal-fired power plant. A third approach was the Emissions Trading Scheme, which allowed participating countries to buy and sell emission rights, with an emphasis on economic greenhouse gas emissions. European countries have established an emissions trading market as a mechanism to strive to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.