Jul 15 2013

Kyoto Protocol Carbon emission goals

Today’s problem: Controlling the Carbon Market with increased emissions from developing countries?


On December 11, 1997 the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol (more info), an agreement that set internationally binding emission reduction targets, took place in Kyoto, Japan. It later took force in February 2005 following the 2001 Marrakesh Accords. Although the world was no longer dominated by two opposing blocks at that epoch like it was during the Cold War, it was not as multipolar as it is now. When formulating the carbon emission goals, the focus was on the developed countries that were the main polluters. Seeing as they had been industrialized for years and most of their wartime plants and industries run by coal and thermal energy still remained in use their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission peaked. As a result developing nations were not included in the regulating goals.

World Carbon Emission from Fossil Fuels Consumption (1990 - 2010)

World Carbon Emission from Fossil Fuels Consumption (1990 – 2010)


Based on the study led by John Miller (December, 14th 2012; link), the total carbon emissions by the annexed countries such as EU nations and the US (factored in twice: as an annexed nation and alone) remained relatively steady in the late 1990’s. However, the world’s global emission went through a steep increase up until the present due to big carbon emissions from the non-annexed nations; most notably the developing nations. The observation of this upward GHG output trend in spite of decreased emissions from many signing nations makes it necessary to reconsider non-annexed countries’ contribution to the world’s total gas emission.

World Carbon Emission from Fossil Fuels Consumption (2005 – 2049)

Since then, developing groups of nations such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the Asian TIGERS (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea) added to the global carbon output due to their economic activities with high carbon footprints. For example, Brazil is one of the biggest meat producers worldwide and not only increased the amount of GHG it emitted, but also reduced the amount that was naturally sequestered by cutting massive forest areas in order to install new factories and extract viable natural resources from the ground. In EPA’s global Greenhouse Gas emission chart (link), the largest emitting sectors are industry (19%), energy suppliers (26%) and forestry (17%).

Global Emission by Source

As more nations who are still dealing with their demographic transition will start developing in a similar way the issue of regulating GHG emission will become more and more important. In 2012, there was the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, where attempts were made to redefine GHGs more accurately, prolong some of the goals that had been set by the Kyoto Protocol and deal with some issues pertaining to the first commitment period.

All of these summits organized in order to regulate further emissions are great with regards to the participation by developed nations, but participation by developing nations is not as good because the plans for reduction do not provide them with an affordable alternative path for proper industrialization and development. Lisa Friedman and ClimateWire  (2012; link), summarized their Scientifiv American article by stating that “(o)nly two things are clear after the climate meeting in Doha, Qatar: a weak Kyoto Protocol will remain in place for a few more years and more negotiations are needed.” They clearly perceived the carbon emission reduction conferences as relatively futile because nothing concrete seemed to come out of them. It may be considered unfair that these developing nation are constrained during their development phase when the already developed nations industrialized prior to Global Warming and ozone concerns. Regardless of inequalities, a solution must be found to integrate the developing nations’ goal to ascend in the economic realm whilst reducing their carbon output.

Brazil Carbon Emission from 1968 to 2008

In Micheal Bastasch raised the aforementioned issues with developing nation in his Daily Caller article (2012; link). According to his research, China and India (BRICS) nation were behind 35% of the world’s total emissions in 2011 and China alone was responsible for 80% of the growth of global carbon emission that same year. On an opposite end of the spectrum, Mattia Romani, James Rudge and Nicholas Stern argue (2012; link) that although developing nation are indeed to blame for a great part of the global carbon emissions increase, they have proven themselves to be noteworthy trendsetters in greener initiatives.

One specific example they gave was India’s 2008 National Action Plan on Climate Change. The plan (based on the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions; link), “identifies measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively,” and it pledges that India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions “will at no point exceed that of developed countries even as we pursue our development objectives”. It is needless to say that the application of such environmental policies will be difficult but it refutes the previous article’s statement that “(t)hose countries, especially those two, aren’t really interested in cutting CO2 emissions to curb their economic growth”.

In all, there are many challenges to tackle in terms of reducing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and the progress in this current economy is relatively slow seeing as environmental concerns are not everyone’s number one priority.


That’s it for now, keep it real keep it green.

Hope you’ll be back for another round.


Sandrine Charles


Kyoto Protocol and Doha Amendment information source, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; link.

Article by Micheal Bastasch, December 4, 2012 on Daily Caller; link.

EPA Global Emission chart; link.

CO2 emission chart in Brazil from 1968 – 2013, by World Bank Indicator on Trading Economics; link.

India’s 2008 National Action Plan on Climate Change, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions; link.

2012 Study: Can Developed Countries Reduce Future Total World Carbon Emissions?, December 14, 2012; link.

Climate Conference Renews Kyoto Protocol but Looks to Successor Treaty by Lisa Friedman and ClimateWire, December 10, 2012; link.

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