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International Law and China Week 9: Treaty System

Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Presenter: Chow Tsz Lit (Charles)

1. What is Kyoto Protocol?

It is an amendment to the international treaty United Nations Framework Convention on

Climate Change, assigning mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas

emissions to signatory nations.

Only Parties to the Convention that have also become Parties to the Protocol will be bound

by the Protocol’s commitments. Currently 169 countries and one regional economic

integration organization (the EEC) have ratified the Protocol to date (14th February 2007).


2. Principles

It has stated in Article 3 (1) of the Protocol that ‘The Parties included in Annex I (UNFCCC)

shall, individually or jointly, ensure that their aggregate anthropogenic carbon dioxide

equivalent emissions of the greenhouse gases listed in Annex A do not exceed their

assigned amounts, calculated pursuant to their quantified emission limitation and

reduction commitments inscribed in Annex B and in accordance with the provisions of this

Article, with a view to reducing their overall emissions of such gases by at least 5 per cent

below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012.’

It means that when the Protocol entered into force, Parties listed in Annex b are required

and the protocol is legally binding for them to fulfill the commitment.

3. The Importance of Russia’s Ratification

As stated in Article 25 (1), Kyoto Protocol, “This Protocol shall enter into force on the

ninetieth day after the date on which not less than 55 Parties to the Convention,

incorporating Parties included in Annex I which accounted in total for at least 55 per cent

of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990 of the Parties included in Annex I,

have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. “

Ref: [Arts.2 (1) (b), 14 (1) and 16, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969]
Till 2003, despite there are over 55 Parties to the Convention has signed and ratified, but

the total carbon dioxide emission added up to only around 44%, which is mainly because

both United States, the world’s single-largest source of CO2 emissions, and Russia, who

composes of 36.1% and 17.4% had not yet ratified. It made the Protocol can’t entered

into force.

Until November 2004, Russia President Putin finally approved the treaty and since then,

the “90-day countdown to the Kyoto Protocol entry into force was triggered”, and it

became legally binding for those who ratified, accessed, approved or accepted it.

4. How’s about post Kyoto?

Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period would end in 2012, Presidents or Prime Ministers

from major countries had came with the Washington Declaration on February 2007, agreed

in principle on the outline of a successor to the Protocol. It would most likely apply to both

developed and developing countries, which means China, the current second largest source

of CO2 emission would be included as well.


Kyoto Protocol on wiki:


Text of Kyoto Protocol:

Presentation Powerpoint: