6.1.3 Policy Developments since the Second Assessment Report
In December 1997, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
negotiated the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC, 1997). The Protocol established, for
the first time, legally binding quantified emissions limitation and reduction
commitments that cover the emissions of six GHGs from a wide range of sources
for the period 2008 to 2012 for 38 countries and the European Economic Community
(EEC; Annex I Parties). These commitments represent a 5.2% reduction from the
1990 emissions of the Annex I Parties, and a 10% to 20% reduction from their
projected emissions during the 2008 to 2012 period.
Annex I Parties can meet their commitments through measures to reduce domestic
emissions, specified actions to enhance domestic sinks, and co-operative action
with other Parties under Articles 4, 6, 12, or 17. Article 4 allows a group
of Annex I Parties to agree to reallocate their collective emissions reduction
commitment and to fulfil this commitment jointly. Such an arrangement is commonly
referred to as a bubble. The members of the EEC are the only countries,
to-date, to indicate that they are likely to establish one bubble
to meet their commitments.
Article 6 defines JI for Annex I Parties, Article 12 establishes the CDM for
projects in non-Annex I countries, and Article 17 allows emissions trading,
a form of tradable quota, among Annex B Parties (see Box
6.2). The principles, modalities, rules, and guidelines for these three
Kyoto Protocol mechanisms remain to be finalized. The Fourth Session of Conference
of the Parties (CoP4) in Buenos Aires in November 1998 adopted a Plan of Action
that includes development of these principles, modalities, rules, and guidelines
for adoption at CoP6 at The Hague in November 2000.9
Annex I Parties have been implementing domestic policies to address their commitment
under Article 4.2 of the Convention and evaluating possible policies to meet
their more stringent commitments under the Protocol, taking into account the
options afforded by the Kyoto mechanisms. Annex I Parties national climate
programmes are described in their National Communications, which are compiled
by the UNFCCC Secretariat and subjected to external expert review under the
Convention (UNFCCC, 1999, addenda 1-2).
Structural adjustment and energy sector reforms have been pursued in many countries.
Although these are not GHG policies, they often have significant implications
for GHG emissions, increasing or reducing emissions depending upon the circumstances
(see Section 6.2).