Global Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol [Updated January 15, 2003]   [open pdf - 70KB]

From the Summary: "Negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were completed December 11, 1997, committing the industrialized nations to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of six 'greenhouse gases.' The United States signed the Protocol on November 12, 1998. This treaty would commit the United States to a target of reducing greenhouse gases by 7% below 1990 levels during a 'commitment period' between 2008-2012. Because of the fact that 'sinks,' which remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, are counted and because of other provisions discussed in this report, the actual reduction of emissions within the United States required to meet the target is estimated to be lower than 7%. The Clinton Administration did not submit the protocol to the Senate for advice and consent, acknowledging that one condition outlined by S.Res. 98, passed in mid-1997-meaningful participation by developing countries in binding commitments limiting greenhouse gases-had not been met. However, in late March, the Bush Administration indicated its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and announced a cabinet-level review of climate policy. This initiated a high-level but unsuccessful effort by the European nations to re-engage the United States in the Kyoto process. When the COP-6 meeting resumed in July 2001, the United States remained on the sidelines, following the Bush Administration's decision not to engage in negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. To the surprise of many, negotiators at this meeting reached agreement on most of the outstanding political issues, with compromises allowing significant credit for carbon sinks, and at the following COP-7 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, in October- November, 2001, most remaining operational decisions were completed. As of January 3, 2003, the UNFCCC Secretariat reported that 102 nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, representing 43.9% of the emissions of developed countries with obligations outlined in the Protocol. In order to enter into force, the Protocol must be ratified by nations representing 55% of these emissions. In February, 2002, President Bush announced a U.S. policy for climate change that will rely on domestic, voluntary actions to reduce the 'greenhouse gas intensity' (ratio of emissions to economic output) of the U.S. economy by 18% over the next 10 years."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30692
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