When they adopted the Convention, governments knew that its commitments
would not be sufficient to seriously tackle climate change. At COP
1 (Berlin, March/April 1995), in a decision known as the Berlin
Mandate, Parties therefore launched a new round of talks to decide
on stronger and more detailed commitments for industrialized countries.
After two and a half years of intense negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol
was adopted at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997.
The complexity of the negotiations, however, meant that considerable
“unfinished business” remained even after the Kyoto
Protocol itself was adopted. The Protocol sketched out the basic
features of its “mechanisms” and compliance system,
for example, but did not flesh out the all-important rules of how
they would operate. Although 84 countries signed the Protocol, indicating
that they intended to ratify, many were reluctant to actually do
so and bring the Protocol into force before having a clearer picture
of the treaty’s rulebook.A new round of negotiations was therefore
launched to flesh out the Kyoto Protocol’s rulebook, conducted
in parallel with negotiations on ongoing issues under the Convention.
This round finally culminated at COP 7 with the adoption of the
Marrakesh Accords, setting out detailed rules for the implementation
of the Kyoto Protocol. As discussed above, the Marrakesh Accords
also took some important steps forwards regarding the implementation
of the Convention.
The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and its rulebook
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol shares the Convention’s objective,
principles and institutions, but significantly strengthens the Convention
by committing Annex I Parties to individual, legally-binding targets
to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Only Parties
to the Convention that have also become Parties to the Protocol,
however (that is, by ratifying, accepting, approving, or acceding
to it), will be bound by the Protocol’s commitments, once
it comes into force.The individual targets for Annex I Parties are
listed in the Kyoto Protocol’s Annex B. These add up to a
total cut in greenhouse-gas emissions of at least 5% from 1990 levels
in the commitment period 2008-2012.