Beyond Neutral

Greenhouse Solutions

UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, CDM, JI


The United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a response to climate change by the United Nations General Assembly.  Negotiated between 1990 and 1992, the UNFCCC formally recognised that the atmosphere is a global resource which needs international management to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change.  

The aim of the framework is to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission through an intergovernmental framework enforceable at a national level which requires signatories to develop policies and strategies to reduce national GHG emissions and adapt to irreversible climate change.  Signatories are also required to gather and share information on national GHG emissions.  The convention was adopted in May 1992 and open for signatures at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Conference) in June 1992.

The framework was ratified on the 21st March 1994 after obtaining the required 50 signatures.  Currently, there are 192 signituries who meet each year at the Conference of Parties (COP) which is a tool where member countries discuss the implimentation of the framewok goals.  The UNFCCC is administered by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, which is located in Bonn, Germany.  It is the Secretariat’s duty to monitor individual countries GHG emissions.

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol (the Protocol) was adopted on the 11th December 1997 at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) held in Kyoto, Japan. 

The Protocol is the international agreement that commits signatories to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change through the reduction and/or limiting atmospheric concentrations of the following six greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).  This is to be achieved through legally binding emission reduction/limitation targets for 27 industrialised countries between 2008 and 2012.

The Common but Differentiated Responsibilities principle places greater responsibility on developed countries to reduce concentrations of GHGs.  The Protocol acknowledges that current GHG concentration levels have resulted from over 150 years of industrialisation in developed countries.  Emissions reduction/limitation targets can be achieved through three mechanisms, Emissions Trading, Clean Development Mechanisms, Joint Implementation.  The Protocol came into force on 16th February 2005  and to date 183 counties have ratified.

Clean Development Mechanism

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol. It encourages and assists developing countries achieve sustainable development and helps developed countries achieve emission reduction targets. The CDM sets out a framework for countries with emission reductions/limitations (countries listed in Annex B) to develop and implement emission reduction projects in developing countries.  Projects are restricted to renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry (afforestation and reforestation) that show additionality, i.e. the reductions that the project achieves would not have taken place under business as usual.  Each tonne of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) avoided attracts one Certified Emissions Reduction credit (CER) which can be sold on the carbon trading market as an offset to achieve Kyoto Protocol targets.

Joint Implementation

Joint Implementation (JI) is defined in Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol. It allows countries listed in Annex B (developed countries or countries with economies in transition) with emissions reductions/limitations to invest in emission reduction or removal projects in another Annex B country. Projects must demonstrate additionality, i.e. emission reductions/removals would not have occurred without the project in a business as usual environment.  Each tonne of CO2e reduced/removed by the project attracts an Emission Reduction Unit (ERU) which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto Protocol targets.