Ref. :  000014915
Date :  2004-10-23
Language :  English
Home Page / The whole website
fr / es / de / po / en

Questions & Answers: The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol

Author :  Union européenne

What is required for the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force?

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty agreed in 1997 by the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a protocol to this Convention. Its entry into force is governed by rules agreed on by the UNFCCC Parties. The rules demand that at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC ratify the Kyoto Protocol and that those include industrialised countries accounting for at least 55% of CO2 emissions among industrialised countries in 1990.

While so far 126 countries have ratified, the industrialised countries among them account for only 44.2% of CO2 emissions by industrialised countries in 1990. Apart from the US, which accounted for 36.1% but withdrew from the Protocol in 2001, only Russia - accounting for 17.4% - can bring the Protocol into force.[1]
Following the Russian State Duma's positive vote on Kyoto ratification, what are the next steps necessary for it to enter into force?

The Duma now has five days to pass the bill to the Council of the Federation, the upper house of the Russian Parliament - the Council must consider federal laws that ratify international treaties. If the Council, as expected, also approves the ratification, it has five days to pass the bill to the Russian President. He in turn has 14 days to sign it into law. After Russia deposits its instrument of ratification with the UN, the Kyoto Protocol will come into effect 90 days later. This means that the Protocol could enter into force early next year.
How many countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and what are their obligations?

So far, 126 countries have ratified the Protocol.

Based on provisions in the UNFCCC, the Protocol differentiates between industrialised and developing countries. Industrialised countries have to achieve binding greenhouse gas[2] emission targets during the "first commitment period", which runs from 2008 to 2012. Developing countries are also required to limit their emissions, but have no targets.

This distribution reflects the UNFCCC principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities": industrialised countries are responsible for most of the global greenhouse gas emissions and also have the institutional and financial capacities for reducing them, so they have to take the lead.

Among the 126 countries that have ratified the Protocol are 33 industrialised countries with targets. They include all EU Member States except Cyprus and Malta, which as yet have no targets.

The EU-15 reduction target is 8% below 1990 levels until 2008-2012. This target is shared between the EU-15 Member States under a legally binding burden-sharing agreement, which sets individual emissions targets for each of them.[3] With regard to the new Member States, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia have to achieve reductions of 8% below 1990 levels; Hungary and Poland reductions of 6% below 1990 levels; and Cyprus and Malta have currently no targets.
What will change when the Kyoto Protocol comes into force?

Once the Protocol is in force, the industrialised countries with targets will be legally obliged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Kyoto's entry into force will also trigger the early start-up of several market-based instruments envisaged by the Protocol, which will create global emissions trading markets. These instruments will allow the Parties with reduction targets to meet their commitments cost-effectively, but also help developing countries to limit their emissions. The instruments include:
international emissions trading under which countries with targets will be able to buy and sell emissions credits among themselves; this will keep reduction costs low;
the "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM) under which countries with targets will be able to carry out emission reduction projects in countries without targets and count the achieved reductions against their own targets; this too will help keep costs low and at the same time assist developing countries in building their economy and social development on a climate-friendly path;
"Joint Implementation" (JI) under which countries with targets will be able to carry out emission reduction projects in other countries with targets and count the achieved reductions against their own targets; this, too, is a cost reduction measure that will help spread clean technologies.

In addition, the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol will reinvigorate global efforts to combat climate change. At least 126 countries will be co-operating with each other in reducing greenhouse gases, signalling to the rest of the world that this is not only possible, but can also be done in a cost-effective way.

It will also provide the legal base for international negotiations on a climate change regime post-2012 to start next year. The reductions envisaged by the Protocol are only a modest first step, but the implementation of the Protocol is vital for getting started to fight climate change. Particularly the flexible mechanisms CDM and JI have never been tried on an international scale. Thus, implementing the Protocol will provide important lessons for designing a cost-effective global climate policy post 2012.

Furthermore, the Protocol's entry into force will send a strong political signal around the world that there is increasing political will to move towards a global ?climate-friendly? economy. This alone will provide additional incentives for the private sector and the research community to drive innovation and develop competitive and clean technologies for the future.
How will EU citizens notice that the Kyoto Protocol has come into force?

As a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol and convinced that the best way is to lead by example, the EU has already passed legislation that makes all the Protocol's provisions legally binding in the EU. All Member States have reduction targets under EU law, already report emission trends as required by the Protocol, and there are also instruments, such as the EU emissions trading scheme, which will allow the EU as a whole, as well as each Member State, to achieve their Kyoto targets cost-effectively - presupposing that the efforts at EU level are complemented by national action.

Insofar, EU citizens will not notice any changes as compared to a situation in which the Protocol were not in force. But regardless of the Protocol's status, the coming years will see more discussions about climate change and more measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the effects of climate change are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Many of those will now take place in the framework of the Protocol.
What will happen if a country with a target misses it?

The compliance regime for the Kyoto Protocol is among the most comprehensive and rigorous in the international arena. If a Party fails to meet its emissions target, the Protocol requires it to make up the difference in the second commitment period, with an additional 30% penalty. It must also develop a compliance action plan, setting out the actions that it will take to meet the target and the timetable for doing so. In addition, its eligibility to ?sell? under the Kyoto Protocol?s international emissions trading will be suspended.

The EU's target under Kyoto is collective (a reduction of 8% below 1990 levels), applying to the 15 Member States that were Member States when the Protocol was negotiated. But under EU law this target is shared between the EU-15 Member States under a legally binding burden-sharing agreement (see question 3). If one of these 15 Member States misses its target, the European Commission can decide to start an infringement procedure, which may, in the end, result in daily fines imposed by the European Court of Justice.

For these EU-15 Member States, the Kyoto Protocol compliance procedures will only apply if the EU-15 as a whole misses its 8% reduction target. Should this occur, then each Member State will be held to its target under the burden-sharing agreement, and the EU as a whole will be in non-compliance with its obligation to reach the -8% target.

The ten new Member States, to which the EU?s burden sharing agreement does not apply, are bound to their individual targets as set out in the Kyoto Protocol, both under the Kyoto Protocol?s non-compliance procedures and under EU law.
What will happen after 2012? Will there be new targets?

Discussions on post-2012 are due to start next year. In September 2004, the European Commission launched a stakeholder consultation to gather ideas, thoughts and research results from stakeholders with regard to the global climate change regime in the future, and there will be a stakeholder conference on 22 November.[4] The comments and information gathered will feed into a report by the Commission on medium and long term strategies to address climate change, including targets, which in turn will provide the basis for discussions at the traditional Spring Meeting of EU leaders in March 2005. The heads of state and government are expected to provide guidance on what the global climate change regime should look like in the future.

What is clear already now is that the greenhouse gas reductions required by Kyoto from industrialised countries will not be enough. The EU's target is to limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial level - an increase believed to be within our adaptive capacities. The accomplishment of this target will require much greater reductions: in the order of 50-70% compared to 1990.

It seems also already clear that the future regime should include more countries than Kyoto does - notably the United States and some developing countries - and that more countries than currently under Kyoto will at some point have to take on measurable reduction commitments, according to their "common but differentiated responsibilities."
Is it true that Russia can make money from the Kyoto Protocol?

When the Kyoto Protocol enters into force, any Party to the Protocol with a target will be able to participate in the Kyoto mechanisms: international emissions trading, Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation (see question 4).

The Kyoto Protocol requires that Russia do not exceed the 1990 levels of its greenhouse gas emissions during 2008-2012. Currently, Russia?s greenhouse gas emissions are some 30% below 1990 levels. This means that Russia will have a significant surplus of emission quotas that it can sell to other countries with targets when international emissions trading starts.

The amount of money that Russia can earn by selling emission credits under the Kyoto Protocol will depend on the total amount of quotas it decides to sell and the market price of such quotas. Russia will be the dominant seller on such a market and therefore has the possibility to influence the price, for example by saving some of its quotas for later commitment periods. Besides the EU, Canada and Japan will also be looking for emission credits from Russia. So it is really in Russia?s hands to decide when and how it wants to benefit from the Kyoto Protocol.

Russia can also invite other countries with emission targets to carry out emission reductions projects in Russia - Joint Implementation projects - from which Russia can sell emission credits. JI is an excellent opportunity to make Russian industry, especially in the energy sector, more efficient and less pollution-intensive.

At the same time it could help industry and municipalities to modernise and acquire new technology, for example in the district heating sector. There is a great interest in the EU to do such project in Russia. Several European countries, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Italy are already preparing for this.
On the other hand, some people in Russia say that by ratifying Kyoto Russia will commit itself to costly emission reductions that it cannot afford. What about this argument?

One reason why the Kyoto Protocol gives Russia a generous emission target is that it recognises the fact that Russia?s fall in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 has occurred to a large extent because of a decline in energy and industrial output and that these changes have led to economic hardships. According to the Russian government?s own estimates in its Energy Strategy until 2020, Russia is not likely to reach 1990 emission levels before 2020. Even if Russia?s GDP doubles in the next ten years, which would be accompanied by an increase in emissions, Russia would still have a substantial surplus of emission credits to sell to other countries. The Kyoto Protocol only concerns the period 2008-2012. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Russia does not commit itself to any emission reductions beyond 2012.
Can the EU Emissions Trading Scheme start before the Kyoto Protocol enters into force?

Yes. The European Emissions Trading Scheme is based on a Directive which entered into force in October 2003. It is part of the EU?s general policy on climate change and, as such, does not depend on the entry into force of the Kyoto protocol. The scheme will start in January 2005.

See also MEMO/04/44 on emissions trading.

[1] For ratification status, see

[2] The Kyoto Protocol regulates emissions of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most important one, as well as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

[3] Council Decision 2002/358/EC of 25 April 2002

[4] See and

Rate this content
Average of 9 ratings 
Rating 2.89 / 4 MoyenMoyenMoyenMoyen
Same author:
 flecheMinimum wages in the EU in January 2007
 flecheThe Court of First Instance annuls the decision authorising the creation of Sony BMG
 flecheCommission proposes practical improvements to the way the European GMO legislative framework is implemented
 flecheEconomic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with ACP countries
 flecheBarcelona Declaration and Euro-Mediterranean partnership
 flecheEU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to meet Malinese President Toumani Toure; will recall EU Doha commitments on cotton trade
 flecheCommission provides an additional €4 M to victims of tropical storm Stan in El Salvador and Guatemala
 flecheHumanitarian aid: Commission allocates € 6 million for victims of the conflict in Nepal and for Bhutanese refugees
 flecheUnemployment rates of the total population by level of education (EU 25)
 flecheEU25 : Convergence and Competitiveness Objectives 2007-2013 (draft)
 flecheLa recherche à pas de géant
 fleche Un avenir européen pour le Kosovo
 flecheMobiliser les cerveaux européens: permettre aux universités de contribuer pleinement à la stratégie de Lisbonne
 flecheL'Institut universitaire européen de Florence propose un nouveau programme postdoctoral en sciences sociales
 flecheZimbabwe: Commission allocates €15 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups
 flecheWhat is a researcher? European Commission defines roles and responsibilities
 flecheAvian Influenza: Commission proposes updated measures aimed at preventing epidemics
 flecheEuropeans want policy makers to consider the environment as important as economic and social policies
 flecheStatement by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to mark the first anniversary of enlargement, 1 May 2005
 flecheHow does the European Commission deal with ethical issues within its Framework Programme for Research and Development
 flecheDirective du Parlement Européen et du Conseil relative aux services dans le marché intérieur
 flecheInformation note of the European Court of Auditors on Special Report No 10/2004 concerning the audit of Devolution of EC external aid management to the Commission Delegations [1]
 flecheLessons from Spain: more focus on young voters needed and people should be informed to become convinced. Results of a post-referendum Eurobarometer in Spain
 flecheFree movement of goods: too many infringements are hampering economic growth
 flechePosting of workers: the Commission asks Greece and the Netherlands to end unjustified restrictions
 flecheEU research maximises regional dynamics, boosts competitiveness for EU SMEs
 flecheEuropean Commission welcomes G8 commitment to put Africa and Development high on its agenda
 flecheCustoms: Commission proposes strategy for simplified rules of origin
 flecheEurope's population is getting older. How will this affect us and what should we do about it?
 flecheLisbon strategy can make a significant contribution to growth, a Commission report shows
 flecheTreaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
 flecheCompetitiveness Council backs Commission “partnership for growth and jobs”
 flecheGender Mainstreaming in EU policies
 flecheEuropean Neighbourhood Policy: the next steps
 flecheDoha Round: EU Commissioners Mandelson and Fischer Boel travel to Kenya for multilateral trade talks
 flecheEuropean research infrastructures: a means to boost knowledge and fuel growth
 flecheMergers: Commission approves acquisition of Shell Gas by Repsol Butano
 flecheConférence sur la politique européenne de développement
 flecheCommission adopts favourable opinion on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania
 flecheEuropean researchers based in the US want more contact with Europe
 flecheThe Commission adopts a new Drugs Action Plan for 2005-2008
 flecheLes chercheurs européens établis aux États-Unis veulent un renforcement des contacts avec l’Europe
 flecheA reinforced transatlantic dialogue will be beneficial to the rest of the world
 flecheEuropean Commission accelerates preferential trade measures to benefit tsunami-hit countries
 flecheEU Trade Commissioner proposes trade measures to complement G8 push on debt, aid and development
 flecheEU launches new export help service for developing countries
 flecheSpecial ASEAN Summit
 flecheCommission sharpens fight against cross-border crime in the EU
 flecheEurobarometer on Constitution: a positive attitude, but a lack of information
 flecheLatest European regional statistics confirm Commission’s proposal on Structural Funds for 2007-2013
 flecheSurvey shows European public is largely at ease with euro three years after adoption
 flecheDeclaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Sudan – Signing of the comprehensive peace agreement on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi
 fleche “Mental illness is Europe’s unseen killer” says Markos Kyprianou
 flecheFrance: Commission pursues legal action for failures to respect six environment rulings of the European Court of Justice
 flecheNovember 2004: Euro-zone and EU25 unemployment stable at 8.9%
 flecheCommission’s report indicates that governments should do more to implement energy market opening measures
 flecheOctober 2004: Euro-zone external trade surplus 5.5 bn euro
 flecheBrussels European Council: Presidency conclusions
 flecheEIB AND Inter-American Development Bank sign memorandum of understanding
 flecheCommission launches public consultation on future programme for active citizenship
 flecheProtecting Europe from epidemics: Director named for new EU health agency
 fleche"EU and Turkey on the threshold of a new phase"
 flecheGreat Lakes Region - Humanitarian Situation
 flecheEurobarometer: marked improvement in perception of the European Union and what it does
 flecheBarcelona hosts the Festival of European Cinema, with the support of the MEDIA programme
 flecheEU equips parents with internet safety tools
 flecheEuropean Neighbourhood Policy: the first Action Plans
 flecheNature protection: Commission establishes largest ever list of protected areas in the EU
 flecheEU - China Summit : China now second trade partner of EU25
 flecheUN conference on climate change: EU set to keep momentum in the global fight against climate change
 flecheCommission consults public on action plan to reduce air pollution
 flecheFull text of the Constitution
 flecheEuropean Constitution : Procedures planned for the ratification
 flecheThe European Union and Emerging World Orders: Perceptions and Strategies - speech of Ján Figel, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism
 flecheChemical Pollution: EU ratifies Stockholm POP Convention
 flecheCitizens make increasing use of the European Ombudsman
 flecheUNESCO negotiations on cultural diversity: the Commission obtains a mandate from the Council
 flecheEU strategy to enforce Intellectual Property Rights in third countries - facts and figures
 flecheEuropean Council - Conclusions
 flecheReport from the Commission to the Spring European Council: Delivering Lisbon - reforms for the enlarged Union
 flecheEU Presidency Statement - Migration issues
 flecheAccess to medicines: Commission proposes to allow export of generic medicines to poor countries
 flecheFourth Report on Citizenship of the Union
 flecheThe European Anthem
 flecheDeveloping countries: facts and figures on the new EU scheme of trade preferences for 2006-2008
 flecheEU-ACP: EU, Commonwealth and Francophonie join hands in supporting ACP trade policy makers
 flecheYoung people and drugs: changing attitudes in the Member States since 2002
 fleche"The European Ombudsman: Could he help you?" : now available in 21 languages
 flecheWTO-Vietnam: EU and Vietnam conclude bilateral deal for Vietnam's accession to WTO
 flecheUS-Boeing: EU takes US to the WTO over subsidies granted to Boeing
 flecheASEM 5 Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 7-9th October 2004
 flecheEU-Mercosur: EU presents its completed offer to Mercosur in on-going trade talks
 flecheLIFE+: Commission proposes new streamlined funding programme for the environment
 flecheEU-Mercosur: EU presents its completed offer to Mercosur in on-going trade talks
 flecheRomano Prodi, President of the European Commission, Conference on EMU and economic governance - Closing address
 flecheRecommandation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to participate, on behalf of the Community, in the
negotiations within UNESCO on the convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions.

 flecheEU can and must boost employment with the right policies
 flecheFor a more effective involvement of civil society in world trade talks
 flecheErasmus Mundus: 82 European universities launch programme
 flecheTrade and Development: success stories in EU trade-related assistance
 flecheGlobal efforts for the environment: Commission and UNEP to reinforce co-operation
 flecheCommission moves smartly to launch European Mobility Week
 flecheCommission launches stakeholder consultation on future climate change policy
 flecheJoining forces to alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries
 flecheLabour Force Survey – 2003. Employment rate in the EU25 in 2003
 flecheEU-Pacific Trade: facts and figures
 flecheEU-ASEAN: Trade and Investment initiative makes headway
 flecheThe European Commission confirms the need for a Community regulatory framework for nuclear safety and radioactive waste management
 fleche'For Diversity. Against Discrimination' truck tour to help the drive against discrimination in the EU
 flecheUS Byrd Amendment – WTO says eight WTO Members may retaliate against the US – Joint Press statement by Brazil, Canada, Chile, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, and Mexico
 flecheEuropean demography in 2003 : EU25 population up by 0.4% to reach 456 million. One in 14 people in world live in the EU25

 flecheDarfur crisis: Commission releases a further 20 million euros in humanitarian aid
 flecheThe "Europass Training"
 flecheImplementation of EU environmental law: survey highlights serious shortcomings
 flecheLife expectancy in the member states of the European Union
 flecheEnlargement Day Celebrations - 25 Members of the EU at Farmleigh,Dublin
 flecheFurther European Union Support for the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan
 flecheSigning the Nice Treaty (February 26, 2001)
 flecheSolana, Javier
 fleche"Television without Frontiers"
 flecheLa politique de recherche et l'espace dans le Traité constitutionnel
 flecheWTO: EU committed to progress in WTO negotiations
 flecheEU INSPIREs better geographical info
 flecheFourth Euromed Trade Ministerial:
towards an integrated Euro-Mediterranean market

 flecheEmployment and poverty reduction in developing countries
 flecheCommission strengthens cohesion policy in the enlarged European Union
 flecheThe Commission proposes new Education, MEDIA, Culture and Youth programmes for 2007-2013
 flecheSudan/Chad: Commission earmarks further 18 million euros for victims of Darfur crisis
 fleche"1000 discussions for Europe" on the new Constitution
 flecheProtection de la couche d'ozone : la Commission intente une action contre neuf États membres
 flecheEU action against HIV/AIDS
 flecheDeveloping countries: Commission unveils system of trade preferences for next ten years - simple, transparent and objective
 flecheLe Prix Prince des Asturies « Coopération internationale » attribué au programme Erasmus
 flecheEU-Africa Cotton Forum: Pascal Lamy proposes a joint strategy for African countries
 flecheHealth in developing countries - Commission and World Health Organization join forces to deliver on development goals

 flecheRoadmap for EU-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation and Transparency
 flecheMobility of researchers: the EU proposes new prospects and opportunities
 flecheGlobalisation and Trade: How to make sure there is space for development?
 flecheDeclaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation in Darfur, western Sudan
 flecheEU EPICA research project: solving the climate change puzzle?
 flecheMap showing the use of the euro
 flecheUnião Européia
 flecheBalkans occidentaux: lancement des premiers partenariats européens

 flecheEU citizens in favour of a common asylum and immigration policy
 flecheEU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
 flecheBrussels European Council: PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS
 flecheSeptember 2003 Euro-zone unemployment stable at 8.8%
 flecheEU-ACPs: opening of trade negotiations with West and Central Africa
 flecheDraft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
 flecheThe full text of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
 flecheEuropean Commission regrets US decision to file WTO case on GMOs as misguided and unnecessary
 flecheAthens Declaration
 flechePremier Forum des Parlementaires Africains pour le Nouveau Partenariat pour l'Afrique (NEPAD)
 flecheL' "Amendement Byrd" en infraction avec les règles de l'OMC
 flecheEuropean Union launches coalition of like-minded states to deliver World Summit renewable energy goals
Keywords   go
Translate this page Traduire par Google Translate

Share on Facebook
Partager sur Twitter
Share on Google+Google + Share on LinkedInLinkedIn
Partager sur MessengerMessenger Partager sur BloggerBlogger