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Global Warming : The Kyoto Protocol

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Introduction

According to the American Meteorological Society, there is a 90 percent probability that the global temperature will increase between 3.5 to 7.4 ℃ by 2100 [1]. This increase in global warming could trigger widespread catastrophes such as rising sea levels and famine. International cooperation is crucial because there is not a single country that accounts for 26% of global emissions, and mitigation will require more than 15 countries in order to account for at least 75% of emissions [2]. Also, some countries may free ride other countries’ efforts and gain a competitive advantage because they will continue maintaining their current carbon footprint [2]. Thus, international cooperation will also satisfy a country’s political and economical concerns.

In response to the threat climate change poses, the Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty adopted by the UNFCC in the year 1997, which entered into force in 2005 [3]. In particular, the protocol hopes to legally compel ratifying and industrialized countries into lowering global warming through the reduction of six greenhouse gases that affect it. Quantifiable targets included reducing collective emissions by 5.2% compared to 1990 levels, with each country having a “common, but differentiated” responsibility that was based on their contribution to global emissions (see Appendix A) [3]. Each country’s target had to be met with either national measures or the following three flexibility mechanisms that would
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