Kyoto Protocol UPSC Notes and its Three Flexible Mechanisms

Kyoto Protocol UPSC

The kyoto protocol created in 1997 is an international treaty meant to curb global climate change and its first commitment period was from 1998 to 2012. In that the annex 1 kyoto protocol countries were required to reduce their greenhouse gas emission by 5.2% with 1990 as the base year till 31st of December 2012.
Kyoto Protocol is related to climate change and it is top down, it is 100% legally binding and it was based on differentiation that means the member kyoto protocol countries were classified into:

Annex 1– which includes only industrialized nations and economies under transition. For them it was mandatory to reduce the emission.

Annex 2– includes only industrialised nations. For them there is additional responsibility that not only they have to reduce the emissions, but they have to provide finance and technology to the developing countries to reduce their emission. Non Annex countries- it includes developing nations like India, China, Brazil etc.

They are not required to reduce their emission, but they can do so voluntarily. Least developed kyoto protocol countries- includes sub-Saharan countries and other similar types of nations. They need to be provided finance and technology to deal with the climate change.

This protocol focused only on mitigation. It also had 3 different types of market mechanisms i.e.

  1. Clean development mechanism
  2. Joint implementation
  3. Carbon credit or Emission trading and it is also known as cap and trade.

Also Read : Paris Agreement 2015

Clean Development Mechanism

  • To show them as domestic emission reduction.
  • To sell them in the international market.

The commercial value of carbon credits is determined by the market principle of demand and supply.

Evaluation of Clean Development Mechanism

It enables the transfer of technology from industrialized nation to the developing countries and it has helped in the survival by providing flexibility to the annex 1 countries for reducing their emissions.
There is adaptation fund under clean development mechanism- 2% of the total funds are transferred from the proceedings of sale and purchase of credits provide funds to deal with the climate change.
The criticisms are that only pollutants are changing and pollution remaining the same.

Only two countries from developing category i.e. China and India are accounting for around half of the projects where as the remaining developing countries are accounting for less than half.

Joint Implementation

In joint implementation when annex 1 countries invest in another annex 1 countries in a project which result in emissions reduction then the investor receives the Carbon Credit at the basis of one Carbon Credit for one ton of emission reduction but these are called Emission Reduction Units like CERs (Certified Emission Reductions) they can also be used to show as Domestic Emission Reduction or to sale them in the international market through Carbon Trading.

Carbon Trading

It is also known as emission trading or cap and trade. In this when Annex 1 countries there is fixed quantity of emission called assigned amount of units. If an Annex 1 country breaches the limits and the other Annex 1 country is able to restrict the emission within the prescribed limit then the country who has exceeded the limit has to buy the carbon credit and the one who is able to restrict the emissions will receive the carbon credits. Initially under protocol the buyer and seller both were Annex 1 countries but now the buyers are still Annex 1 but those who are selling the carbon credits includes Non Annex as well.
There are two categories :

  1. Compliance based – issued under Kyoto protocol and includes emission reduction units under joint implementation and removable units based on carbon sink which is linked with LUC&F (land use change and forestry)
  2. Non compliance based- credits are issued outside Kyoto protocol like the renewable energy certificates issued in India.

Evaluation of Emission Trading

It is a better predicter of the emission trajectory of an individual country and it is responsible for adoption of environmental planning by the corporate sector and it has broadly based the finances for adaptation fund by including more credits.


  1. It is responsible for carbon leakage i.e. the emission saved at one place but emitted at another place.
  2. As the value of credit is determined by the market forces therefore it is next to impossible to predict the commercial value for a specific date.
  3. It is a highly mechanical approach where the sociol- economic cost of climate change is not taken into consideration. For example many studies have proved the impact of the oil exploration activities on the quality of the life of the tribal in the Ogoniland region of Nigeria where Shell has been operating one of its largest oil fields but when Shell was confronted with this finding they refused to acknowledge it. The argument was they were supposed to buy carbon credit which they have.


This article talks about what is Kyoto Protocol and the 3 mechanisms i.e. Clean development mechanism, Joint implementation and Carbon Trading. In addition the article also discusses the evaluation and criticism of these mechanisms as well.

kyoto protocol upsc


What is the Kyoto Protocol?

Itl is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which addresses different aspects of climate change like mitigation on finance, technology etc.

What are the 5 main elements of Kyoto Protocol?

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

Does India have Kyoto Protocol?

Yes, India signed The Kyoto Protocol on 26 August 2002.

Who created Kyoto Protocol?

It is created on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan by COP 3 of UNFCCC.

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