The United Nations Kyoto Protocol on global warming officially
went into effect at 0500 GMT Wednesday, legally binding most of the
industrialized countries to control pollution.
The agreement, negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 by 159
countries and ratified by 141, is an adjunct to the 1992 UN treaty
on climate change.
The protocol targets carbon dioxide and five other gases that
can trap heat in the atmosphere, and which are blamed for rising
The protocol will have legal force for its participants from
February 16 after meeting twin conditions -- backing from at least
55 countries and support from nations representing at least 55
percent of developed countries' carbon dioxide emissions.
It passed the second hurdle in November 2004 when ratified by
Russia and now has backing from nations representing 61.6 percent
of emissions. The United States, the world's biggest polluter, has
pulled out, saying the protocol is too expensive and wrongly omits
It commits the industrialized countries that have ratified it to
reduce the amount of six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane,
nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur
hexafluoride) by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels during the five-year
period from 2008 to 2012.
Only 39 countries have target levels for the period, adhering to
the principle set under the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) that wealthier countries should take the
Under a 2001 deal made by environment ministers in Germany,
countries overshooting their targets in 2012 will have to make both
the promised cuts and 30 percent more in a second period from
(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2005)