Is the Kyoto Protocol the Wrong Approach?
Climate change is a relevant issue today that should be on the minds of people. In 1972, scientists discovered that CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) might destroy the ozone layer. In 1985, scientists discovered that the destruction of the ozone layer was occurring quite rapidly and recommended that country leaders should take action as soon as possible to decrease CFC levels. In 1987, in Montreal, representatives from all over the world, came together to ban CFC’s. This was the first successful collective action taken against global warming. But now the problem is larger than just banning the gas from refrigerators. The world continues to warm fast enough to alarm geologists, meteorologists, and others who study climate change. International initiatives to offset global warming began on 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, organized by the United Nations. However, the result was a weak non-bonding agreement aimed to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Five years later, in Kyoto, Japan, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC came up with a treaty call the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC).
The Kyoto Protocol is based on the idea that 38 nations needed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 emissions levels. However, this is not the solution to global warming. The main reason being that only industrialized countries are committing to reduce their emissions, and developing countries have been left out of the treaty. In addition, large emitters of carbon dioxide such as the US and Australia didn’t choose to ratify the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol will have a low impact in the reduction of greenhouse gases, but it will create a significant economical and social benefit, generating jobs and economic growth in Canada.
The Kyoto Protocol is the wrong approach to reduce greenhouse gases below 1990 emissions levels. As Tennesen suggests, the Kyoto Protocol will be in progress during 2008 to 2012. During these years, developed countries will have to reduce their carbon dioxide levels by 5.2 percent below 1990 emission levels. Countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union have to reduce their emissions levels, he suggests, whereas The Russian Federation, Ukraine and New Zealand need to increase their emissions (215). Tennesen also states, “the agreement placed limits on six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride” (216).
The treaty focuses the most on the reduction of the carbon dioxide emissions. However, methane gas is also a very powerful greenhouse gas that should be treated with the same priority as the carbon dioxide. The reason why they are not giving so much importance to methane is because methane gas only stays in the atmosphere for a period of 10 years, whereas carbon dioxide stays for a period of 100 years. Also, methane can be cleaned...