“After ten days of tough negotiations, ministers and other high-level officials from 160 countries reached an agreement this morning on a legally binding Protocol under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2%. The agreement aims to lower overall emissions from a group of six greenhouse gases by 2008-12, calculated as an average over these five years.” (UNFCCC, 2011)
In December of 1997, 160 countries gathered in Kyoto, Japan to agree upon a Protocol that will curb emissions and hopefully restore emission levels to pre-industrial numbers. This Protocol is the Kyoto Protocol established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control.
It is widely believed that human activities are responsible for the increase in the mean global temperature. Burning coal, oil, and natural gas for energy used in manufacturing, used in the heating and cooling of our homes, used in the electricity production and energy used for our transportation needs is all human activities that emit carbon dioxide, or other greenhouse gasses. Burning of fossil fuels accounts for 80-85% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere (GCRIO, 2011). Deforestation is also a human activity that contributes 15-20% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere (GCRIO, 2011). When land is cleared for logging, ranching, or agriculture purposes, the decayed or cut down vegetation releases carbon dioxide thus increases the amount in the atmosphere. Also, methane, another harmful greenhouse gas, is emitted into the atmosphere by rice cultivation, cattle ranching, and decaying materials that sit in landfills. (GCRIO, 2011) Another significant greenhouse gas is chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), these are most significantly produced through the use of refrigeration and air conditioning.
An increase in the number of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere changes the amount of energy that is absorbed and reflected by the atmosphere. The atmospheres absorption of this energy helps keep our average global temperature at an ideal level for life. Notably important is the temperature of our oceans. Our oceans are compared to a sink for carbon dioxide, in that they hold much of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be in the atmosphere (Wikipedia, 2011). As the temperature of the oceans rise, they absorb less and less carbon dioxide. Thus increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increasing the global mean temperature, creating a snowball like effect, that would be nearly impossible to reverse.
To prevent this catastrophe the Kyoto Protocol was established as a “global legally binding agreement” (Wikipedia, 2011). The objective of this agreement was to provide financing for developing countries. The financial aid would go towards new technologies to help these countries develop in a more sustainable manner. The Protocol also hoped to install mechanisms that report, verify, and review the...