The Copenhagen Climate Change summit was a gathering of world leaders in the capital of Denmark over a two week period from 7th - 18th December 2009.   

What About Kyoto?

The Kyoto Protocol was a global agreement on the reduction of the main greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to climate change and global warming.

The original meeting took place in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, when 110 governments agreed that industrialised countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2% from the 1990 level by the year 2008-2012.  The Kyoto Agreement would only become legally binding when the industrialised nations accounting for 55% of the carbon dioxide emissions ratified the agreement.

The Kyoto Protocol was the first international treaty to set legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  It was finally ratified by 183 countries and the EC; the USA was not one of them, despite having the world’s biggest economy and emitting the second largest amount of greenhouse gases/carbon.  It was signed as a framework accord in 1997 but didn’t come into effect until February 2005.

Countries who took on targets under the Kyoto Protocol have exceeded their 5% emission reduction targets, reducing their emissions by over 20% by February 2015.

The Kyoto agreement provided a legal distinction between developed and developing nations which the poorer countries wanted to maintain.  It placed a clear responsibility on the shoulders of rich nations, committing them to reduce overall emissions of 6 categories of greenhouse gases by at least 5% by 2008-12, compared to 1990 levels.  Developing nations did not have any binding targets to meet; they were only expected to attempt to develop in “clean” ways.  Some countries like the US did not ratify this agreement thinking it unfair that they would have to meet set targets while other countries would not.  Developing countries were concerned that any new treaty would not be as strict or legally binding.  They were also concerned that their development could be slowed down because they couldn’t use as many fossil fuels as developed nations had done in the past.  However, some of these “developing” countries included China which has overtaken American as the bigger carbon producer, even though per capita each person has a much smaller footprint and much of what they produce is for export to the richer nations.

Read More: During the Summit

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