Mechanisms Under The Kyoto Protocol


So, have you heard about the Kyoto protocol or Kyoto mechanisms?

I guess that you do not. But if you know it already, so that is a thumbs up from my side.

First thing first, that what is the Kyoto protocol and why I decided to talk about it?

Kyoto protocol is basically an international agreement that is developed in 1997, it is made with the mission to reduce carbon and greenhouse gases from the environment for sustainable and green development of countries and yet saving the environment from drastic effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Kyoto protocol applies only on the developed countries to limit their greenhouse gas emission, developing countries have no limitations on their GHG emissions. Thus, developed countries are improving their industrial infrastructure and opting for innovative and greener solutions.

Kyoto Protocol mechanisms

The Kyoto protocol consists of three market-based mechanisms that will help countries to reduce the cost for meeting the targets of emission reduction. These mechanisms include:

  • Joint Implementation (Article 6 of Kyoto protocol)
  • The clean development mechanism (Article 12 of Kyoto protocol), and
  • Emission trading (Article 17 of Kyoto protocol).

Joint Implementation (JI)

This mechanism allows developed countries to implement emission-reduction projects in other developed countries that has a commitment to reduce its GHG emissions. Through this, the host country (the one setting up project) will earn emission-reduction units (ERUs), each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, these units help them in achieving their emission reduction or limitation goals.

JI reduces the cost for the host country to achieve their target reduction limit as they can set up projects in countries where reducing emission will be cheaper or cost effective.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

In this, developed countries can setup emission-reduction projects in developing countries and by doing that, these developed countries can earn certified emission reduction (CERs) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, and this will count in meeting their Kyoto protocol targets of emission reduction.

This mechanism will allow sustainable development and emission reduction, while giving flexibility to developed countries to meet their emission reduction targets.

Emission trading (ET)

Developed countries can sell their earned (but not used) emission-reduction units (ERUs) to countries that couldn’t meet their emission reduction targets. This can also be done through both CDM and JI mechanisms.

Kyoto protocol can surely play a big part in reducing or limiting greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the emission reduction goals, an estimated 4.7% reduction in CO2 emissions is still required, taking only CO2 into account.

To achieve the full CO2 emission goal, 5.2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is necessary, which consists a basket of 6 greenhouse gases, below:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

Pakistan has also signed the Kyoto protocol but the Implementation status is unfortunate due to a lot of hurdles like economic, financial, policy and regulatory barriers. But there is still hope at the end of the tunnel.

About the Author: Syeda Fatima Noor is a food technologist and an environmental enthusiast. She likes to keep on adding experiences in her life from different fields. She has a keen interest in learning new things and searching for answers.



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