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The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol that was negotiated in 1997 and took effect only 8 years later, is still an issue of debates and confrontation from economists, environmentalists and the most developed countries. The United States of America, along with Australia, China and some other South Asian countries have refused to sign the protocol, supporting this action with arguments of Kyoto Protocol as being not cost-efficient and having no scientific validation. Nevertheless, 178 nations have entered the new era of mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

This paper will explore the true reasons of global warming and define whether the Kyoto Protocol is really essential in this environmental issue, or is just the tiniest element that has subconscious effect. This amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was ratified on the key factor – to minimize the cost – and has three subdivisions: trading of global emissions, the Clean Development Mechanism, and joint implementation, which are interrelated with such variables as being cost-effective and efficient. The Kyoto Protocol was aimed to reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions to 5. 2 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 20121.

These emissions include six gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFC) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). Yet, no one states that these gases have a ‘long-term effect’, for methane is kept in atmosphere for decades, carbon dioxide for centuries and perfluorocarbons for millennia2.

The stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions is supposed to be the variable of efficiency, yet less cost-effective, and the industries, which had been polluting the atmosphere for 150 years and shifted the percentage of global warming from 1 to 2. 5 degrees Fahrenheit during the last century and are supposed to increase it to 10. 5 degrees Fahrenheit during the next 100 years3, will more eagerly invest in short-term social activities, rather than solve distant and “Greenhouse Gas Emissions” “Page #2” doubtful impact of emissions.

Thus, the change of global climate is a double-edges problem: both economical and political. From economical point of view, the mitigation of gas emissions by 10 percent is more costly for next ten years than next twenty years. Moreover, the unstable economic situation in most of developing countries and growth of population are the additional factors that concern climatic change, because every activity – from agriculture to computers – is affecting the environment (energy and fuel consumption, deforestation, industrialization, etc. ).

In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have estimated that in 2050 the stabilization of greenhouse gases’ concentration at 450 parts per million would cut GDP 1-4 percent worldwide4. Taking into account the factor that gas emissions mix in atmosphere, none of the developed countries would minimize costs in developing countries, while investing and spending their benefits – for the organization of their economical and energy resources may vary.

This political problem also involves parties and non-parties of the Kyoto Protocol: it is known that the United States generate more than one fourth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and, while they are looking for more cost-effective alternative, global warming affects the planet in storms, floods, risk of tropical islands’ swamping because of melting polar ice and rising sea-levels5, and later on lack of fertile lands and, as a result, famine.

The mitigation of greenhouse gases is the biggest but not the sole factor in global warming and the humanity must realize that industrialization and development have more negative than positive effects. Therefore, every member of any society must take simple steps to reduce fuel and energy consumption, reduce waste (half of household waste’s recycling saves 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually6), because hurricanes and tsunami may be only the presages of disasters to come if no one takes care of himself in the first place.

Kyoto Protocol will not be effective unless global society will response to climatic changes.

Endnotes:

1. West, L. (n. d). 2. Aldy et al. (2002). 3. West, L. (n. d. ). 4. Aldy et al. (2002). 5. Cuffe, C. (2005). 6. West, L. (n. d. ).

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