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Countries must ratify Kyoto Protocol 2nd commitment period to show political will for strong climate action

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Fighting climate change is about securing an equitable and just transition that limits global warming to 1.5°C, protects people and biodiversity and makes sure the future is resilient to climate change. Yes, there’s a reason we say that to change everything we need everyone. And yes, there are many pieces to this complicated puzzle.

Pieces of the climate puzzle

One major piece is the Paris Agreement, the landmark 2015 accord which covers climate action by all countries: emission cuts, adaptation to the changes we can no longer avoid, the money and technology needed to do this, and more.

Another major piece is the gap between what climate science tells us we need to do to avoid catastrophic climate consequences for people and nature, and what is actually being done. We need global emissions to peak by 2020 and then sharply decline.  

Until 2020, the Kyoto Protocol, another piece of the puzzle, is the world’s major political instrument to cut emissions and close the gap.

From Kyoto to Paris

The first commitment period of Kyoto ran from 2008 to 2013. The second commitment period (KP2) was meant to start in 2013 and run until 2020. But by 30 April 2018, only 111 out of the necessary 144 Parties to Kyoto had ratified KP2. WWF believes having it enter into force by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP24 (December 2018) would send a strong political signal for increasing climate action under the Paris Agreement as well as addressing urgently needed emissions cuts immediately.

A key difference between the pre-2020 (Kyoto) and post-2020 (Paris) climate regimes, is that Paris covers climate action by all countries, whereas only developed countries, based on a list made in 1992, have emission reduction commitments under.

In 2018, governments are getting together in the Talanoa Dialogue, to check progress and to seek ways to scale up global climate action necessary to keep warming below 1.5°C. Having the KP2 enter into force this year is one way in which we can ensure emissions decline before 2020. An increase in emissions will make implementing the goal of the Paris Agreement – to keep warming below 1.5°C – even more difficult than it will already be.

Among the 192 Parties to the KP, 81 have not yet ratified. We call on these countries to ratify and use KP2 to ensure we peak emissions as soon as possible.

Did you know?

  • During the second commitment period, governments committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 18% below 1990 levels in the eight-year period from 2013 to 2020.
  • The composition of governments in the second commitment period is different from the first.
  • The US and Canada are not KP parties, and other large emitters like Russia and Japan have stated they will not ratify the treaty.
  • Poland, host of this year’s COP, has just passed legislation that will allow it to ratify the treaty.
  • The last party to ratify the treaty was Venezuela, which did it earlier this year.
  • See who has ratified the treaty on the UNFCCC’s treaties page.
  • These countries have not yet ratified the treaty: Afghanistan; Albania; Andorra; Angola; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahrain; Belarus; Belize; Benin; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Burundi; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Colombia; Cook Islands; Cote d’Ivoire; Dominica; DRC; Equatorial Guinea; Egypt; El Salvador; Eritrea; Georgia; Ghana; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea Bissau; Haiti; Iran; Iraq; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kazakstan; Kuwait; Kyrgystan; Laos; Lebanon; Lesotho; Libya; Macedonia; Mauritania; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Mozambique; Nepal; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Niue; North Korea; Oman; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Qatar; Russia; Sao Tome and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Sudan; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Timor Leste; Togo; Tonga; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uruguay; Uzbekistan; Yemen; Zambia. All of these countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, however.

Inga Fritzen Buan is a senior climate policy advisor for WWF-Norway. She is based in Oslo.

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