Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol and International Actions [Updated June 8, 2007]   [open pdf - 173KB]

"The concerns over climate change, often termed 'global warming,' have emerged both in the United States and internationally as major policy issues. Reports in 2007 of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided additional scientific underpinnings for these concerns, and the number of proposals and international meetings devoted to these issues has grown significantly during this year, as discussed in this report. The first treaty to address climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was completed and opened for signature in 1992. This treaty includes commitments to establish national action plans for voluntary measures that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 in order to begin mitigating possible global warming. The United States was one of the first nations to sign and ratify this treaty, and it entered into force in 1994. However, it was soon concluded by parties to the treaty that mandatory reductions in emissions of the six major greenhouse gases (of which carbon dioxide, mainly from burning of fossil fuels, is the most prevalent) would be required. The resulting Kyoto Protocol, which was completed in 1997 and entered into force in February 2005, committed industrialized nations that ratify it to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of the six major greenhouse gases. The United States has not ratified the Protocol, and thus is not bound by its provisions. In March 2001, the Bush Administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol, and subsequently announced a U.S. policy for climate change that relies on 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, RL33826
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