Final Kyoto analysis shows 100% compliance

June 13, 2016, Taylor & Francis

All 36 countries that committed to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change complied with their emission targets, according to a scientific study released today. In addition, the Kyoto process and climate-related policies, represented a low cost for the countries involved - up to 0.1 percent of GDP for the European Union and an even lower fraction of Japan's GDP. This is around one quarter to one tenth of what experts had estimated after the agreement was reached in 1997, for delivering the targets set 15 years ahead. The U.S. never ratified the treaty and Canada withdrew, but all the rest continued, and Kyoto came into force in 2005.

The results, reported in the Climate Policy journal, are the first published results to use the final data for national GHG emissions and exchanges in carbon units which only became available at the end of 2015. They show that overall, the who signed up to the Kyoto Protocol surpassed their commitment by 2.4 GtCO2e yr -1 (giga-tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year).

"There is often skepticism about the importance of international law, and many critics claim that the Kyoto Protocol failed. The fact that countries have fully complied is highly significant, and it helps to raise expectations for full adherence to the Paris Agreement," said Prof. Michael Grubb, Editor-in-Chief of the Climate Policy journal and co-founder of research network Climate Strategies.

The researchers found that most of these countries reduced their GHG emissions to the levels required by the Kyoto Protocol, with only nine (Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and Switzerland) emitting higher levels. The nine countries only just overshot their targets – in total by around 1 percent of the average annual emissions capped under Kyoto – and were able to comply with the protocol using the "flexibility" mechanisms. The researchers also found that overall compliance would have also been achieved even without the so-called 'hot-air,' (windfall emission reductions from Eastern Bloc countries).

Explore further: Russia slams Kyoto Protocol

More information: Igor Shishlov et al. Compliance of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in the first commitment period, Climate Policy (2016). DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1164658

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2 comments

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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2016
This isn't what I've read in the past. Since 9 countries did NOT reach their targets, only some kind of delusional thinking would lead one to claim 100% compliance.

Kyoto is aimed at overall reduction in GHGs and the flexibility mechanisms allow for an overshoot of a country if
- the country buys credits from a country that has surpassed its goals
- invests in projects that lower GHG emissions elsewhere
(google: Kyoto credits)
leetennant
not rated yet Jun 15, 2016
As antialias_physorg said, the Protocol was complied with overall even if there were some flexibility mechanisms used for individual countries. And those countries only overshot by a very small margin. Mind you, IMHO, the problem with the Kyoto Protocol was not the compliance but the limp-wristed nature of the targets themselves. Even Australia met it and our emissions have significantly increased.

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