Kyoto Protocol, Failures, and the Paris Summit

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KyotoProtocol, Failures, and the Paris Summit

Climatemodification due to greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emission proves to beamongst the significant environmental concerns facing the globalcommunity. The GHGs, especially fossil fuel-centered carbon dioxideemitters, are building up in the atmosphere due to human activities.These ongoing and increasing greenhouse gas atmosphericconcentrations consequently lead to increased average globaltemperature along with other climatic changes including increaseddroughts, floods, tropical storms, and desertification. According toRahel &amp Felbermay (733), these changes will eventually bring direconsequences to the global population. Multiple foreign nations haveseen the seriousness of this issue stirring a series of meetings,debates, and conventions including the Montreal protocol.Subsequently, the countries implemented the Kyoto protocol as apolitically expedient resolution to climatic changes due to GHGemissions. In this paper, I will discuss the Kyoto Protocol facts andhighlight the model`s failures. Lastly, I will discuss the lessonslearned from these failures that will aid the Paris Summit to attainsuccess.


TheKyoto protocol is symbolically significant in the rising concernsregarding climatic changes. The protocol`s foundation dates back tothe year 1997 after the establishment of UNFCCC (United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change) around 1992 negotiates duringCOP3 (3rd Conference of Parties) (Rahel &amp Felbermay, 732). Afterthe protocol`s establishment, it attained the position as the initialcomprehensive tool dedicated towards the greenhouse gas moderationinvolving thirty-seven developed nations. These countries werecommitted to reducing their GHG emissions, mainly carbon dioxide fromthe combustion of fossil fuel by five percent between the years 1990to the year 2008-2012 (Gwyn &amp Rayner, 46). However, the Kyotoagreement came into enforcement only after the fulfillment of twoconditions (Rahel &amp Felbermay (732). Initial, at least fifty-fiveCOP nations must have the agreement ratified by their stateparliament. Subsequently, the developed countries amongst theapproved parties have to make an account of approximately fifty-fivepercent of the total carbon dioxide emissions.

Consequently,the Kyoto protocol not only advocated for emission reduction targetsbut also presented flexibility mechanisms that were to control thecompliance costs (Morel &amp Shishlov, 4). These mechanisms includebubbling, IET (international emissions trading, JI (jointimplementation), and CDM (clean development mechanism (Morel &ampShishlov, 4). The bubbling found in the protocol`s fourth articleallowed an assembly of Annex B (Kyoto Protocol Annex) nations toregister shared commitment to the GHG emission reduction as displayedby EU (European Union) countries. The protocol`s article seventeen,IET allowed Annex B nations to enter into direct trade with theirAAUs. The article fails to influence the Annex I (UNFCCC Annex)nation`s total caps only redistributing assigned amount units amongthem. The transactions of AAU are monitored by UNFCCC using the ITL(international transaction log) (Morel &amp Shishlov, 4). Theprotocol`s sixth article, JI allowed Annex B nations tocounterbalance emissions through capitalizing in projects dedicatedto emission decline in another Annex B country (Nicelli &ampChandra, 81). Therefore, the joint implementation only redistributesemission decline endeavors amongst members without influencing theAnnex B total cap emissions. Lastly, CDM, which is the twelftharticle of the Kyoto protocol, allowed Annex B nations tocounterbalance emissions through capitalizing in projects dedicatedto emission decline in the non-Annex B nations lacking emission caps.Thus, these projects create CER (certified emission reductions),which are mainly carbon credits usable by the Annex B nations tocomply with their agreed emission targets and AAU (assigned amountunits) (Nicelli &amp Chandra, 83).

Theemission targets of the Kyoto Protocol legally bound industrializedcountries within its commitment period but experienced some debates.The supporters of this convention saw it as a breakthrough related tothe global climate policy since it promised significant emissionreductions in the developed nations relating to business emissions(Böhringer, 1). Additionally, it formulated n expansive globalmechanism that widened and deepened climate protection futureexercises. Conversely, the protocol antagonists presented theirrejection claiming it to be a deeply faulty agreement, which acts asboth political impractical and economically insufficient (Böhringer,1). Debates regarding the code of conduct has been ongoing but hasmet some resistance especially from the United States of America,which refused to ratify it due to some issues that the protocolcarried. The country`s presidency, under Bush, reasoned that theagreement would have overly high costs on their economy and thedeveloping countries exemption from these binding legitimate emissiontargets was not fair (Ferry, 70).

AfterUnited States of America`s withdrawal from the protocol agreement,Russia`s ratification was critical for realizing the emissionsreduction threshold that eventually occurred in the year 2005(Böhringer, 1). The CP1 (initial commitment period) lasted betweenthe year 2008 and 2012 making way for a new climate negotiationagreement aimed to take over the Kyoto protocol at Bali`s COP13meetings in 2007 (Hiroki &amp Okada, 325). In 2009, the COP15ensued in Copenhagen, yet it failed to foster a different agreement.The Kyoto Protocol first period finalized around December 31, 2012,achieving minimal results than expected to make about 190 nationsunder the Kyoto protocol want to convene to make amends. Due to this,the CP2 (successive commitment period of between 2013 and 2020) cameto an agreement at Durban`s COP17 while the details of implementationwere enforced at Doha`s COP18 in 2012 (Hiroki &amp Okada, 325). Inagreement with the platform at Durban, the different internationalclimate treaty is planned for adoption in Paris`s COP21 in the year2015 entering into force in the year 2020 (Böhringer, 3). Theobjective at the Paris Summit is to ensure that the commitments onclimate change experience an achievement by learning from thefailures presented by the Kyoto protocol.

KyotoProtocol Failures

Despitesome achievements in the Kyoto agreement, there were more failuresthan successes. Although this was true, most of the 190 nationssigned into this treaty decided on making platforms that will ensureit modification and basic implementation with desirable results(Rosen, 30). To do this, they have to highlight the failures thatthis treaty carried and ensure that they learn from them so that theycan create a better agreement that will achieve its goals of climatechange. The critical failures included the non-ratification of thetreaty by major developed nations such as United States of Americaand Canada among others and the exemption of developing nationsconcerning the Kyoto protocol. Additionally, these failures presentthe inability of the protocol to mobilize the nations towardsshifting energy usage from the fossil fuels to renewable energy, andits failure to cover every form of GHG gasses found around the world.Lastly, Kyoto failed to present appropriate sanctions fordiscouraging non-compliance and free riding.

Non-SupportiveSuperior Nations

TheUnited States of America`s withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol was asignificant failure reason. It was apparent because it was amongstthe main GHG emitters globally accounting for approximately 36% ofthe world`s carbon dioxide emissions found in the year 1990 (Gwyn &ampRayner, 46). With this, the agreements outset lacked effectivenesssince the United States average carbon emissions considerablyundermined efforts presented by the Kyoto parties that emitted lessindividually. Moreover, the United States withdrawal ensured Russia`sunwillingness to participate. Due to this, the treaty was renderedweak if Russian withdrawal would take place, which the country claimsthe unwillingness to renew the contract once the current agreementexpires (Morel &amp Shishlov, 4). Similarly, Canada`s pullout fromthe agreement in addition to other factors may be attributed to theAmerican withdrawal because of their economy integration (Gwyn &ampRayner, 48). In agreement with Sauquet (45), the NAFTA (NorthAtlantic Fair Trade Agreement) that involves Canada, Mexico, andAmerica disallows any form of discrimination related to organizationsoriginating from the three nations. Therefore, a regularparticipation of Canada in Kyoto will involve NAFTA violations due tothe imposing of production standards on organizations.

DevelopingCountries Exemption

Kyotofailed by exempting developing nations from any of the emissionobligations found under the treaty curbing its implementation(Sauquet, 9). The failure is very significant since these developingnations continue to grow without the implementation of environmentaltechnologies. Due to this, they end up emitting a large amount of thegreenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Statistics shows that thedeveloping nations contribute significantly to climate change, and ifthey are not monitored properly, then more global warming will be thefate of the world. For instance, the developing nation, China, canproduce significant amounts of carbon dioxide, as it wants withoutmonitoring. Due to this, the Kyoto Protocol has failed since carbondioxide emissions in the environment are still significantly highfalling short of its initial objectives.

Additionally,due to Kyoto`s lack of developing nation`s coverage, they have failedto see the potential the nations have towards GHG emissions (Ferry,75). The third world countries are home to some of the extensiveworld forests such as those in Indonesia and South America. Forestsare opportunities that ensure carbon dioxide reduction in theatmosphere instead of channeling it into the ocean or undergroundmines (Ferry, 79). Therefore, forest preservation in developingcountries is most significant in the mitigation of climate change. Toillustrate forest conservation and afforestation worth, the US usingcarbon sinks, their CO2 emissions reduced by 900 million metric tonsregistering at 6170 million tons from 7045 million metric tons(Ferry, 100). In agreement with Ferry (99), deforestation isresponsible for eighteen to twenty-five percent of internationalcarbon emissions. The process of deforestation frequently destroysforests that are comparable to Portugal`s size consequently causingan 18% international GHG emission (Ferry, 101). Approximately half ofthe destruction is due to illegal logging, which does not receiveappropriate policies aimed at protection.

However,Kyoto fails to comprehend this reality. Under the agreement, thecounterbalance credits concerning carbon are attained for theplanting of trees but omit those related to the preservation of theforests already in existence. It fails to recognize that theseprevailing forests are nature`s buffer against the consequences ofglobal warming. Under the CDM project, some of the developingcountries were for avoiding the deforestation process but eventhrough their efforts, Kyoto did not recognize their cost-effectiveresolution to the problem (Ferry, 102). Kyoto did not give any creditto the developing nations for the preservation of their forests.Besides, the developed nations argued against such credits presentingan argument that it would be challenging to measure and monitor thetotal amount preserves along with ensuring preservation continuedover time (Ferry, 102). If only the protocol took this processseriously, then they would have involved both the developed anddeveloping countries into their projects ensuring that GHG emissionsare presented throughout the country. If this happened, then thetreaty would have actualized its primary objective of GHG reductionworldwide.

FailedFossil Fuel to Renewable Energy Shift

Kyototreaty failed to ensure that there is a shift from fossil fuel usageinto renewable energy sources. The reasonable assumption relates tothe adoption of renewable energy technology to control carbon releasein the atmosphere but still allowing the world population utilizesthe energy needed for daily activities. Besides, power-generating andrenewable resources are readily available to the members under Kyotoprotocol. For example, the solar energy amount reflecting from Earthis approximately a thousand times the commercial energy usage of theearth (Ferry, 77). Due to this, a conversion of below 1% of solarenergy reflection of the land could gratify an enormous proportion ofthe electricity requirement around the world. However, the storage ofsuch energy forms effectively presents another difficulty (Böhringer,22).

Kyotodid not take into consideration that the global population growth andincreased demand for urbanization will lead in many ways tohigh-energy consumption demands. More significantly, some projectionsevaluate that by the year 2030, the GHG emissions of countries suchas China would have increased threefold with Asia emitting 60% of theglobal GHGs (Ferry, 77). Most of the world countries to date generatetheir electricity using coal plants and with their increasedpopulations, these numbers are bound to go higher. Despite the factsthat the sustainable methods of energy generation, as opposed to theuse of fossil fuels, can ensure a significant reduction, Kyoto stillhas not advocated for this methods. To ensure that the GHG emissionnumbers reduce, Kyoto should have provided the transitions, and sinceit failed, the statistics of GHGs in the atmosphere is still on therise. It is vital that there are establishments of renewable energyplans around the world most notably in the industrialized andfast-growing Asian nations (Böhringer, 19). Through these schemes,the developing nations may gain assistance from the Kyoto membersthat will ensure that they shift from using carbon-based fossil fuelto the use of renewable energy technologies.

Focuson Carbon Dioxide over other GHGS

Despitethe atmosphere having numerous forms of GHGs, Kyoto has failed inregulating every one of them. Kyoto only focuses on monitoring onlysix groupings that constitute global warming chemicals, which includeMethane, Hexafluoride, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, Nitrous Oxides,Carbon dioxide, and Chlorofluorocarbons (Ferry, 76). However, Carbondioxide is the most popular receiving significant global policy focusdespite greater influence that other GHGs render to the atmosphere(Ferry, 76). An overlook of the other GHGs is attributed to theirsmall quantity release into the atmosphere, yet these little volumeseventually build up causing significant damage to the earth`s ozonelayer. The Kyoto protocol did not realize that by the reduction ofthis other less powerful but more GHGs that are potent in theatmosphere presents a greater worth through the creation of creditsor offsets (Ferry, 79). Therefore, due to their focus on carbondioxide, they failed to give proper attention to other GHGseventually leading to the increased depletion of the ozone layer dueto higher concentrations of GHGs. To try to mend this, Kyoto shouldhave included an international law improvement strategy, whichensured that the GHG emissions occurred comprehensively other thanthe carbon dioxide focus.

IneffectivePunishment Mechanisms

Withoutproper punishment measurement of violations, an agreement`s objectivewill remain far from achievement. In a situation where non-complianceto Kyoto has been identified, the violator experiences an emissionallowance deduction from its subsequent commitment period accountingfor 1.3 times of the violation amount (Böhringer, 17). Additionally,the violator may experience a bar from utilizing the flexibilitymechanisms. Under thorough scrutiny, the general Kyoto agreementsanction mechanisms show a high degree of weakness andineffectiveness mainly because the penalty application requires theviolators consent to undergo enforcement. Moreover, these forms ofsanction mechanisms tend to provide the free riders with incentivessince the violator could demand substantial emission allocations.Ultimately, this form of methods of punishment results in a losingsituation for the punisher because usually emissions trading shouldimply a win-win kind of situation. In the real sense, the currentKyoto sanctions barely seem to tolerate any form of renegotiationmaking its oversight over its members weak. The monitoring weaknesstranslates to their inability to be entirely satisfactory to date.

KyotoProtocol Lessons to Ensure Paris Summit Success

Uponthe reflection on Kyoto`s failures, it is possible to draw somelessons that would ensure that climate change experiences controlthrough reduced GHG emissions into the atmosphere. It is evident thatnot the entire Kyoto framework was flawed, but other areas neededimprovements. These areas are proving easy to correct if onlydedication and commitment are established among members as well asnon-Kyoto members. Since multiple nations have shown their supportfor the development of another global agreement expected to undergosigning in the Paris Summit in late 2015, then they should see Kyotofailures as the key to ensuring its success. Some of the main lessonslearned that would ensure the Paris Summit success includes expandingthe new international climate treaty`s coverage, therefore, finding abalance between particular circumstances flexibility and typicalenvironmental integrity. Additionally, the meeting should ensure thatthey eliminate the international contracts virtual specter and limitthe compliance methods focus. Besides, they should place moreemphasis on the MRV processes and finally present agreement andadoption process flexibility as far as the protocol is concerned.


WhileKyoto`s emission targets submitted a form of overachievement,emissions continued to grow internationally at an extraordinary ratemainly within the non-Annex B nations (Deepa, 55). Consequently, thetreaty`s GHG emission attention was inadequate to stop theinternational GHG emission growth. The total international emissionspolicies currently fail to enforce the needed target of minimizingclimate change since they are only tailored to specified countries orsectors calling for coverage expansion. These tailored rules mainlyensured the participation of the countries or sectors. In this light,it is rather strategic to enable the implementation of particularrules on the condition that it is in line with the internationalenvironmental integrity. Therefore, the Paris Summit should ensurethat they improve and increase the coverage of emissions to provideappropriate avenues for emission mitigation to take place. Toactualize this, the Summit should ensure that they include moresectors, GHG emissions under control, and countries since they areequally important and responsible for climate change.

DuringKyoto`s elaboration, particular rules underwent negotiation toincentivize more parties` inclusion and more emission totals: part ofemissions exclusion (Iceland), hot air, and LULUCF rules (Morel, &ampShishlov, 30). These specificities represented responses directedtowards the sectoral or national contexts. Some particular sectorssuch as international transport remained unrefined due to arisingcontentions creating the potential to threaten the contents enclosedin the larger contract (Morel, &amp Shishlov, 30). With theexemption of ‘hot air`, the given choices presented minimalinfluences on the international environmental integrity relating tocommitments. Hence, this led to the inclusion of additional sectorssuch as forest management and countries like Iceland and Australia(Morel, &amp Shishlov, 30).

TheParis Summit should recognize that when particularized rulesexperience appropriate usage, they could aid in the unlocking ofdead-ends. Conversely, this said Summit should not utilize thisapproach as a mainstream. It appears rather practical to minimizethe figures related to particularized policies for the attainment ofreadability. Additionally, they can reduce the windfall profit risksas well as specified rules that tend to endanger the internationalenvironmental integrity of the new contract under discussion. The&quothot air&quot cancelation influence regarding some countriesparticipation during CP2 presents reminders of manners by whichenvironmental integrity and emission coverage balance are difficultto achieve (Morel, &amp Shishlov, 30). Besides, the Kyoto protocolillustrates that presenting differentiated base years, mainly viewedas accurate rules, is effective only with the achievement of reliableand conventional reporting processes. Consequently, the emissioncommitments may undergo conversion into total radiation that coversmultiple sectors, GHG chemical types, and countries. With this,participation towards the achievement of the agreements objectiveswill increase leading proper control of the climatic changes that theworld is currently experiencing.

Virtualspecter removal and Compliance Methods Limitations

Throughouthistory, the Kyoto agreement served as a legally bindinginternational agreement concerning GHG emissions due to its writtenrequirement to comply with the stipulated emission target. Nonetheless, in practice, the agreement enforcement showedlimitations towards name and shame outlined by the retreat of Canadaand shortages related to possible sanctions (Morel, &amp Shishlov,30). Therefore, this showed that the agreement was only binding innature but virtual and limited in actual practice. Moreover, Kyoto`ssuperficially binding nature may have resulted in a limited coverageas presented by Japan`s non-participation in CP2 or the United Statesof America non-ratification of the contract for example. Widespreadresources and negotiations were dedicated towards compliance boundarydemarcation and committed tools (Morel, &amp Shishlov, 30). However,ultimately, part of the instruments and rules implemented did notreceive extensive usage as expected in many countries including thetrade of Assigned Amount Units between states. In agreement withMorel, &amp Shishlov (30), this is relative because of little needsto utilize the flexibility mechanisms particularly due to severeemission cap shortages, but also is a consequence of mistrust withinthe nation`s surroundings.

Dedicatingconsiderable time and resources on the emission reduction obligationsand their ability to bind legally as it has always been may not comeacross as the most valid approach (Morel, &amp Shishlov, 30).Nonetheless, the new agreement expected in the Paris Summit shouldleverage on international pressure to acquire compliance since thelocal policies alone presents much more sensitivity towardsmodifications in the national contexts including government change.Through the internationalization of the policies on climate change,they may be able to create a standard control mechanism that everynation follows. Additionally, the control strategy will become morecentralized hence eradicate any form of compliance limitations whilesimultaneously removing the virtual specter throughout the world. Itis evident that through the establishment of universal rules thatgovern a myriad of nations, then they will have no choice but tocomply especially when the complete international pressure is mountedon them.

MRVProcesses Focus

Commitmentsbehind the Kyoto agreement and more widely the UNFCCC are wider whencompared to the documented emissions compliance. Indeed, all the MRV(Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification) processes concerningimplemented policies, mechanism usage, and emissions provided thetools that enable the building of trust (Nicelli &amp Chandra, 83).These MRVs are, therefore, essential tools that aid in trust buildingamongst states and recognizing the different implemented domesticpolicies (Morel, &amp Shishlov, 31). The induced transparencyoffered by the Kyoto treaty regarding agreed upon centralizedreporting rules enables monitoring and the comparison of exercisestaken by every country annually even when there is a difference.Additionally, it manages to compare and monitor the influences thesenations have on emissions. These forms of initiatives offered to theKyoto parties ensured that they were provided with transparent andreliable information regarding emission reductions and GHG emissions.

TheseMRV procedures form the foundation of any international agreementmaking it a vital characteristic especially to global agreementsrelated to climatic changes (Deepa, 46). Therefore, the expected newagreement`s legally binding characteristics set to undergo discussionin the Paris Summit should make MRV requirements a priority over thecommitments only fostered through legal binds to ensure emissionreduction. Additionally, these negotiations and talks may worktowards improving the already existing MRV procedures andrequirements. The talks may even aim to extend these procedures toadditional policy areas or countries, which would serve as aproductive way of building upon a fraction of the main successes thatKyoto offered. The current moves since Durban`s COP17 meetings toestablish MRV requirements that can experience utilization by thedeveloping nations should aim to make progress towards this direction(Nicelli &amp Chandra, 89). With this, the new expected agreementcould maximize and improved on an already achieved success of Kyotoensuring that climatic change undergoes control at a maximum level.

Accordand Adoption Process Flexibility

TheKyoto treaty experienced establishment in dual stages: modelpolitical treaty in the year 1997 instituting tools and commitmentsand the technical regulations agreed upon in Marrakesh within theyear 2001 (Nikhil, 81). Even though this is true, the details of therules consistently experienced amendments throughout the history ofKyoto. Consequently, the Paris Summit treaty could be the model truceclaimed to create flexibility mechanisms and tools having definiterules that need determination around 2020. The negotiations in Parisshould recognize that flexibility should experience integration inboth the agreement and adoption process.

Theplastic design presented Kyoto`s rigidness including the process ofratification and definite commitment periods. The rigidness offered anon-ratification risk from the signing nations and a risk to fail indesigning new regulations on time before the onset of the CP2 (Morel,&amp Shishlov, 31). Similar to Kyoto, the new expected treaty couldgo through the two-step process: an agreement framework in Paris andthe end the mechanisms and detailed rules established in thesubsequent years. However, to ensure that these new agreement issuccessful unlike the previous one flexibility should be inclusiveof the manners in which the agreement is forged. The agreement shouldadopt a potential one-model contract, and another emphasizing on thedefinite rules. The new expected accord should create a platform thatavoids an almost entire renegotiation with every subsequentcommitment period.


Inclosing, the Kyoto Protocol was an international legally bindingcontract that mainly focused on the developed nations. It had somegood intentions towards controlling climatic change through thereduction of GHG emissions, but the overall framework resulted infailure. These failures were because of non-ratification of the Kyotoprotocol by major Nations such as the US, exemption of the developingnations, failed fossil fuel shift to renewable energy, carbon dioxidefocus over other GHG chemicals, and ineffective punishmentmechanisms. Through the failures, it is possible that the ParisSummit can learn from the mistakes and ensure success throughconsidering coverage expansion, and removing specter removal andlimitations of compliance methods. It may also focus more on MRVprocesses, and provide flexibility in the agreement and adoptionprocess. Therefore, it is possible to attain success in the ParisSummit only if changes are more calculated and thought out.


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