Unfccc, kyoto protocol, montreal protocol, pollution, international conventions concerning pollution control
UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, Montreal Protocol By: Renelle Gordon Rushell Rousseau
What is UNFCCC?• UNCFFF [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC]) An international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. The objective of the treaty is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
So how did they attempt to do this?• The treaty itself sets no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. In that sense, the treaty is considered legally non-binding. Instead, the treaty provides a framework for negotiating specific international treaties (called "protocols") that may set binding limits on greenhouse gases. The main UNFCCC treaty is the Kyoto Protocol, which has become much better known than the UNFCCC itself.
Goals of the UNFCC• ‘stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic human induced interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner’
UNFCC is:• Recognizing that all countries, especially developing countries, need access to resources required to achieve sustainable social and economic development and that, in order for developing countries to progress towards that goal, their energy consumption will need to grow taking into account the possibilities for achieving greater energy efficiency and for controlling greenhouse gas emissions in general, including through the application of new technologies on terms which make such an application economically and socially beneficial,• Determined to protect the climate system for present and future generations.
UNFCCC is:• Recognizing the special difficulties of those countries, especially developing countries, whose economies are particularly dependent on fossil fuel production, use and exportation, as a consequence of action taken on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.• Affirming that responses to climate change should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty.
What is the Kyoto Protocol?• It is the first legally binding treaty aimed at cutting emissions of the main greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming. More than 150 nations signed it back in December 1997 at a meeting in Kyoto.• But they left much of the detail about how it would be implemented to future talks. These dragged on, reaching a crisis in The Hague in November 2000, when the US and the European Union failed to agree and talks broke down. George W. Bush was installed as President soon afterwards, and announced that he was pulling the US out of the deal altogether.• Since the US is the source of a quarter of emissions of greenhouse gases that was a big blow, but the other nations decided to carry on and they finally reached agreement in Marrakech in November 2001.
Aim of the Kyoto Protocol:The Kyoto protocol was drawn up to set specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas concentrations in the global atmosphere. Emission restrictions were made for the rich countries of annex 1 - the biggest greenhouse gas producers, and also the countries most able to cut emissions. Targets range from an 8 per cent cut for the EU to a 10per cent increase for Iceland, depending on the individual country.
Aim of the Kyoto Protocol cont.• Annexe 1 also includes several transition countries, like the Russian federation, whose economies still need some development and are allowed a certain degree of flexibility. The emission reduction targets for these countries were laid out in Annexe B. To become legally binding the protocol had to be ratified by at least 55 countries which between them account for at least 55 percent of the total 1990 GHG emissions of developed countries.
Details of the Kyoto Protocol• A theme which runs through much of the Kyoto protocol is for countries to cooperate. Sharing both advances in GHG technology and science. The greatest achievement of the protocol so far is to get so many countries together and talking on a central issue.
Details of the Kyoto Protocol• A cautionary note in the protocol is to be careful of the wider impacts GHG reduction schemes may have. Some may be too costly to maintain for the benefit they provide, others may cause an unreasonable degree of disruption to the populace, industry etc.
Details of the Kyoto Protocol• Article 3.4 caused a great deal of argument as it did not specify what could be constituted as a valid sink or source and what additional activities meant. The US took this article to mean that it could count forests which already existed in its sinks, other countries argued that this was not fair and would allow countries like the US to do relatively little.
Emissions Trading• A key feature of the protocol is the agreement on the use of some form of emissions trading. If introduced the trading system should allow the holder of a credit the emission of a specified amount of GHG.• A tradable carbon credit unit called AAUs (Assigned Amount Units) has been proposed which would represent one tonne of CO2 emissions.• The advantages of this trading are that it drives countries to better efficiency in their own greenhouse gas emissions. However, this is probably the most contentious of all the flexibility mechanisms.
• There is a worry that some rich countries will simply buy off the GHG they produce and not take any action themselves. The idea of a cap on the amount of trading has been suggested, but has produced even more argument.• Taken a step further, per capita emissions have been discussed as a Utopian way to be fair to all.. Maybe one day. But these credits will only have value for reductions made in the commitment period 2008-2012.• Despite this some traders are already speculating in carbon credits and its worth all businesses being aware of where they would stand in a world of carbon credits. Farmers for instance may be sitting on pots of carbon gold in the form of the potential of their land as a carbon sink.
Montreal Protocol• The Montreal Protocol is the first worldwide agreement designed to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. The protocol is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which maintains the list of ozone- depleting substances that are targeted for control practices, reductions, or total phase- outs.
Importance of the Montreal Protocol• The 1987 Montreal Protocol - restricting the use of ozone-depleting substances - has helped both to reduce global warming and to protect the ozone layer.• The benefit to climate achieved by the Montreal Protocol alone at present greatly exceeds the initial target of the Kyoto Protocol.• The effects of the Montreal Protocol on climate will become smaller in the future, while emission reductions after 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol will potentially have much larger effects on climate.
• Note that while the Montreal Protocol mandates an end to the production and consumption of the major CFCs, halons, hydrobromofluorocarbons and methyl bromide by 1996, there continue to be substantial releases of some of these substances in the U.S. (based on industry reports to TRI).• Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is dependent on national regulation, and in the U.S. the EPA has focused on eliminating production of Class I ozone depleting substances by the treatys phase-out dates.• Use of previously produced stocks of ozone depleting substances was not banned as of January 1, 1996, and releases to the atmosphere continue. Facilities reporting releases of Class I ozone depleting substances may have been legally using previously produced stocks or operating under essential use exemptions, or they may have been operating illegally. EPA is currently actively enforcing the CAA restrictions on uses of ozone depleting chemicals.
Ozone layer and the Montreal Protocol• Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances are now globally recognised as the main cause of the observed depletion of the ozone layer. Molina and Rowland’s recognition of the potential of CFCs in depleting stratospheric ozone for the first time in 1974 provided an ‘early warning’. Concern was further heightened by the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in 1985. The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer formally recognised the significant threat of ozone-depleting substances to the ozone layer and provided a mechanism to reduce and phase out the global production and use of these compounds. This ozone protocol represents a landmark in the successful reduction of global production, use and emissions of ozone-depleting substances. According to research the ozone layer is now starting to recover.
Dual benefit• According to research led by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Montreal Protocol has helped both to reduce global warming, and to protect the ozone layer.• Research also reveals that the contribution of the ozone-depleting substances to radioactive forcing would most likely have been much larger if the link of these substances to stratospheric ozone depletion had not been recognised in 1974 and allowed by a series of regulations.
Dual Benefits• Without the reductions achieved under the Montreal Protocol, the amount of heat trapped due to ozone-depleting substances would be about twice as high as present levels. The savings in trapped heat are equivalent to the current increase, built up during about 10 years of growth in carbon dioxide concentrations.
Dual Benefits• The climate protection already achieved by the Montreal Protocol alone is far larger than the reduction target set for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. On the other hand, the effects of the Montreal Protocol on climate will become smaller in the future since the ozone-depleting gases are being phased out.
Future benefits• Additional climate benefits of significance in comparison to the Kyoto Protocol reduction target could be achieved by new actions under the Montreal Protocol.• These actions are destroying CFCs present in existing applications (refrigerators, foams), limiting the production of not fully halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), and/or implementing alternative gases with lower global warming potentials.• Additional emission reductions after 2012 are being negotiated in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. Such reductions have potentially much larger effects on climate than the additional climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol.