What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement to combat climate change adopted under the aegis of the UN in December 1997 in the Japanese city of the same name.
It requires 38 industrial countries to reduce their emissions into the atmosphere of six chemical substances responsible for the phenomenon and qualified as "greenhouse gases": carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and three fluorinated gases.
The quotas apply to the average of the five years 2008-2012 which will be compared to 1990. They vary according to the countries: minus 8% for the European Union to 15, 0% for Russia, minus 6% for Japan, minus 7% for the United States, + 8% for Australia.
To enter into force, it must be ratified by 55 countries representing at least 55% of the CO2 emissions of industrial countries in 1990.
After the decision in March 2001 of the United States (36,1% of reference emissions, 25% of global emissions of CO2) not to ratify it, its survival depended on Russia (17,4% of reference emissions).
The protocol, already ratified by 125 countries including 29 industrial countries representing 44,2% of the benchmark emissions, could therefore come into force soon after a new UN conference on the climate in Buenos Aires (6-17 December).
It provides for the opening of negotiations in 2005 on new reduction commitments from 2013 which could affect the South for the first time, currently exempt from any quantified obligation.
In the absence of developing countries, the effectiveness of the protocol is limited.
According to an expert from the International Energy Agency, Cédric Philibert, Kyoto should only reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions expected in 3 by around 2010%.