Kyoto and all that: the international situation
The historic struggle for humanity to reach agreement on a coordinated political and economic response to climate change really began in 1992 with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was followed in 1997 by the creation of the Kyoto Protocol, which set legally binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. In all 191 nation states signed up, with only the US, Afghanistan, Andorra and South Sudan and then Canada refusing to take part. At that time 37 industrialised countries and what was then the 15-member European Community committed themselves to limit or reduce their emissions, while other member countries subsequently made a variety of different commitments. New Zealand’s Kyoto target, which the Government claims it is on target to meet or exceed, is to return emissions to 1990 levels on average over during 2008–2012, or otherwise take responsibility for the excess by paying for greenhouse gas
reductions elsewhere. Last year at the Doha 2012 Conference many of the original participants in the Kyoto Protocol, including countries responsible for about 15% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, agreed to make further commitments until 2020. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Japan and, controversially,
New Zealand did not.