The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is an international agreement that establishes precise objectives for the cuts in the emissions of gases responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming by the industrialized countries that have joined it.
The treaty, of a voluntary nature, was signed on 11 December 1997 during the Conference of the Parties in Kyoto but only entered into force on 16 February 2005 thanks to its ratification by Russia (which had taken place in the previous November 2004): in fact, for the treaty to enter into force it was necessary that it be ratified by no less than 55 nations, and that these same signatory nations together represented no less than 55% of global greenhouse emissions
The Kyoto Protocol is seen as an important first step towards a global emissions reduction regime that will stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and can provide the architecture for future international climate change agreements.
The “operating principles” underlying the Kyoto Protocol are the following:
International Emissions Trading: the states that have adhered to the Kyoto protocol have agreed to respect targets for limiting / reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These targets are expressed as levels of emissions that are allowed or “assigned quantities” over a certain period of time. The emissions allowed for each state are divided into “assigned quantity units”. Emissions trading, as set forth in Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, allows countries with assigned emission units that have been “spared” to sell these excess quantities to countries that exceed their limits.
The Kyoto Protocol is the first international agreement that sees the binding commitment by the states that have signed up to it, aimed at actively pursuing the achievement of the objectives set by the Protocol itself in favor of containing global warming of the planet.