Climate Change: Reasons, Kyoto Protocol

What have been the causes of climate change?

In recent, there has been an increasing trend in the change of the climate in the world. Since the 1980s, there has been growing concern in the world on the issue of climate change. Though climate change can be traced to have been postulated in the late 1890s, there was little attention of the world to the crisis that the world could end up in due to the effects of climate change.

From the 1970s, there was increased awareness in the world that there were changes that were taking place in the environment, and therefore there was a need to take an action immediately that could help to restore the climate of the world. This was due to some of the signs that had started appearing due to the effect of the climate and environmental changes. As postulated earlier, there was an increase in global warming which brought about many changes in the world. In particular, there was a noted disappearance of ice in the caps. There was also increased change in the climatic pattern of the world and increased incidence of prolonged droughts and heavy downpours. There was a marked rising in the sea level which was a danger to some of the coastal states. There were increased incidences of parasites and new diseases which were all attributed to the changing climate. The world had to come together and find a solution to the problem of the climate change that was taking place. (Baylis and Smith 2005, p. 65)

The Kyoto protocol was a product of the effort by world leaders to come up with a framework under which the world could address some of the environmental problems that it was facing. It was agreed on 11th December 1997 but was entered into force on 16th February 2005. It was modeled as in the international framework

convention on climate change and had an objective of reducing the greenhouse gases which are responsible for the greenhouse effect that causes climatic changes.

What defined the Kyoto protocol?

As we have said the protocol was formed in 1997 under the leadership of the EU and was enforced in 2005. Since then the country has ratification of more than 175 parties including the EU which has entered as an entity bloc. 36 of these parties are from the developed countries and have been required to cut down their rate of emission of greenhouse gases at a level specified for each in the treaty. This represents about 61.6% of the emission from annex 1 countries. There are 137 developing countries including Brazil, China, and India which are considered to be economic powerhouses. However, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas to the environment which is the United States has not ratified the protocol. Russia which had not ratified the Protocol ratified it in 2004 which was a big move forward for the protocol.

The protocol divides the countries into annex 1 which is the industrialized nation that is primarily responsible for greenhouse gas emission and annex 2 which are industrializing nations that have been given the incentive to develop using a clean technology that will not pollute the environment. The protocol encourages emission trading as an incentive to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emission while it comes up with strict emission reduction strategies for all annex 1 countries. The protocol provides a lot of great latitude for the Annex 1 countries with progress forwards objectives variable as reflected in the trading and carbon sinks. (EU, 2008)

What complexities surround the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol?

It has been saddening that even the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases like the US refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol despite other countries taking a step towards protecting the environment.

The untied states had cited negative economic effects if it ratified the protocol since it will have to cut its industrial production although this is contrary.

Since the concern over the rate of climate change took root in the world, there have been concerns that the climate has been changing rapidly than was earlier postulation. The global climate had rise by 0.74C over the last 100 years (IPCC) and it is feared that if this trend continues, there will be more harmful effects not only on the environment alone but also on the life of humans. There is a general agreement among all scientists that the climate is getting warmer although there is a disagreement on the extent of the change and the implications that it will have on the global systems. There is also a disagreement on the anthropogenic factors that are responsible for climate change. Although the IPCC represents the current view of scientists on the issue of climate change, their stance has been affected by the politics of the day which continue to undermine the strategist ha have been proposed to address the problem.

Policies that have been proposed on the issue tend to be split between mitigation of the situation and adaption of the changes that are taking place in the environment. (Wayne 2002, p.8)

There has also been a complexity that surrounds the issue of climate change. Moral complexity is defined by the moral difference that harms that have been caused by the change and the value of the contributing factors. In this case, while it is the rich who have been fueling the change it is the poor who have been suffering from the effects. It has also been feared that it is the future generation that is likely to pay more for climate change and no one knows who will pay for the changes that will have taken place.

The complexity continues with an argument on the importance of addressing the change in climate that has taken place and the other problems that humans have been facing.

The problem has also been compounded by political complexity in the sense that it is seen as a tragedy of the commons.

This has taken a lot of dimension on the issue. In the inter-state disagreement, it is seen that while a long-term common interest in averting the worst of climate change, there are varying interests between the industrialized, and the non-industrialized world. There is also a complexity of the different sectors of the industry and the consumption patterns which have impacted differently to the issue of climate change. There has been a problem of regulating transnational cooperation which has been accused of contributing a large percentage of environmental pollution.

There has also been a problem in the governments in the way they coordinate efforts that are aimed at addressing the issue of climate change. (Clayton 2004, p. 6)

These are some of the problems that have been facing the climatic crisis in the world. They have been due to differences in the moral and political issues that have been surrounding the issue of climate change.

What the above crisis reflects is a direct conflict that is based on the interest, values, approaches to science and a reflection of a weak international institution that cannot enforce an agreement.

The US failure to ratify the protocol despite being the biggest emitter of the gases shows a chest-thumping approach to some of the sensitive issues that the world is facing and the need to serve its interest in the world regardless of the situation that the world is facing. (Eilperin, 2005, p. 8)

What have we achieved after the Kyoto protocol?

The problem of the environment continues and catastrophes are happing one after atoner from Katrina to others. There are still prospects that there will be a sober approach to the issue which will come with a firmer political and public grip to solve it. Still, there is no way to follow, do we come up with a framework that will call for total reduction or will call for equal per capita carbon allowance?

Where do we go from here?

We have to live with the fact that climate change is happening and is here with us. We need to come up with new ways of dealing with the problem and making a more important agreement that can be enforced. We need to take a new approach to the problem of the heat environment since it affects all of us. The Kyoto protocol should be seen as a model but we need to come up with a model that will be more focused on the global issues that we are facing.


Baylis, J. & Smith, S 2005, The Globalization of World Politics-3rd edition, Oxford University Press.

Clayton, M 2004, New Coal Plants bury Kyoto, The Christian Science Monitor.

Eilperin, J 2005, Climate plan splits US and EU, Washington Post.

EU, 2008, The Kyoto Protocol, Web.

Wayne, B 2002, Business seeks more in Kyoto, The Globe and Mail.