Across the globe, a series of official events where held to celebrate the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
“The 16th of February 2005 marks the beginning of a new era in international efforts to reduce the risk of climate change”, said Joke Waller-Hunter, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Convention.
“The Kyoto Protocol offers powerful new tools and incentives that governments, businesses and consumers can use to build a climate-friendly economy and promote sustainable development”, she said.
The Kyoto Protocol's entry into force means that from 16 February 2005:
Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries are to reduce their combined emissions of six major greenhouse gases during the five-year period 2008-2012 to below 1990 levels. The European Union, for example, is to cut its combined emissions by eight percent, while Japan should reduce emissions by six percent. For many countries, achieving the Kyoto targets will be a major challenge that will require new policies and new approaches.
Only four industrialized countries have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol: they are Australia, Liechtenstein, Monaco and the United States. Australia and the United States have stated that they do not plan to do so; together they account for over one third of the greenhouse gases emitted by the industrialized world.
Developing countries, including Brazil, China, India and Indonesia, are also Parties to the Protocol but do not have emission reduction targets. Many developing countries have already demonstrated success in addressing climate change. “Reducing the risks of global warming will require the active engagement of the entire international community. I urge the US and other major emitters without Kyoto targets to do their part by acceleraterating their national efforts to address climate change,” said Ms. Waller-Hunter.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most up-to-date scientific research suggests that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will raise global average temperatures by 1.4 - 5.8°C by the end of the century. They will also affect weather patterns, water resources, the cycling of the seasons, ecosystems and extreme climate events.
Scientists have already detected many early signals of global warming, including the shrinking of mountain glaciers and Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice, reduced ice cover on lakes and rivers, longer summer growing seasons, changes in the arrival and departure dates of migratory birds, the spread of many insects and plants towards the poles, and much more.