The Kyoto Protocol

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Doha 2012. Photo: Karoliina Kinnunen Mohr

The Kyoto Protocol, which further specifies the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, entered into force in 2005. It is the first legally binding agreement on the reduction of emissions on an international scale. The Kyoto Protocol commits industrial countries to the mitigation of climate change. The decision on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol 2013–2020 was made at the Conference of Parties in Doha in 2012. The second commitment period will enter into force when three-fourths of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have ratified the Doha Amendment by which the second commitment period was agreed.

The first commitment period lasted from 2008 to 2012. Finland ratified the Kyoto protocol with the other Member States of the European Union in 2002. Finland has successfully realised its aim of maintaining emissions at 1990 levels, under the accounting rules of the Protocol.

Aims for the second commitment period

Fewer countries have committed to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol than to the first. The following countries have reported their emissions reduction targets for 2013–2020 in relation to the base year (1990 in most cases):

  • Australia (–0.5%)

  • EU (–20%)

  • Iceland (–20%)

  • Kazakhstan (5%)

  • Croatia (–20 %)

  • Liechtenstein (–16%)

  • Monaco (–22%)

  • Norway (–16%)

  • Switzerland (–15.8 %)

  • Kazakhstan (–5%)

  • Ukraine (–24%)

  • Belarus (–12%)

Furthermore, the assigned amounts of greenhouse gas emissions will be cut during the second commitment period, insofar as they surpass actual emissions in 2008–2010. Emission units left unused during the first commitment period can be transferred to the new period in full, but major limitations have been imposed on their purchase and they will be transferred to a separate reserve. Nearly all countries participating in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, EU Member States included, have decided not to buy unused emission units.

The use of flexibility mechanisms was also limited so that they cannot be used by countries participating in the second commitment period.

Measures to reduce emissions

Countries committed to the binding obligations of the Kyoto Protocol may decide, either alone or with other countries, on the means of fulfilling these obligations. The Kyoto Protocol allows for the use of flexibility mechanisms and carbon sinks for this purpose. In practice, the countries committed to the Kyoto Protocol have prepared their own climate programmes, which define the national measures to be taken. For example, the European Union has implemented the Kyoto Protocol obligations under a shared “bubble”. The European Union's key means of achieving its objectives is a union-wide Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Every country committed to emissions reduction targets must also report on its afforestation, deforestation and forest management activities, in a way that is compliant with carbon sink accounting rules.

Additionally, the countries must submit annual reports to the UNFCCC Secretariat, concerning the meeting of the obligations laid down in the Kyoto Protocol.

Further information

Outi Honkatukia, Senior Environmental Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 272,
Paula Perälä, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 224,

Published 2013-07-30 at 10:58, updated 2016-08-23 at 9:48