Skip navigation

Indymedia UK is a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues

Kyoto Protocol Comes Into Effect

jupiter | 14.02.2005 17:26 | Ecology | Globalisation | Technology | Cambridge | World

On 16 February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect, legally binding most industrialised countries to greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2012. The treaty was signed by over 180 countries in 1997 and has since been watered down by special provisions for countries like Canada and Russia as well as limited in its effect by US non-ratification.

Up to now, about 140 countries have ratified the treaty, some of which have taken on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. However, the largest per capita emitters (US and Australia) are continuing to increase their massive emissions and developing countries are racing to imitate their richer brothers and sisters by building on the same climate threatening technologies in their production and consumption patterns. Countries like Britain are pretending to reduce their national emissions minimally while actively supporting massive fossil fuel projects in other countries.

Overall, the Kyoto Protocol will not save us from the imminent collapse of our climate system. In fact, it can be argued that it is actually enhancing the structures that have caused the harm to the climate and not taking us at all into a direction that would bring about a carbon-restricted future. The market-based mechanisms that are put in place by the Kyoto Protocol allow countries to buy their way out of reducing emissions and commodify carbon, an invisible gas that we breathe in and out every day. Pollution gets a price tag and industrialized countries can keep emitting as long as they can pay for it. Through environmentally dubious projects in developing countries, industrialized countries can strengthen their corporate grip on other countries, funding infrastructure and project development so that multinationals like BP and Shell can benefit from the profits.

There will be parties going on at corporate and government offices around the world, celebrating the increase in government structure, corporate wealth and need for highly paid consultants to explain the extremely complicated emissions regime that is being built globally. It is a time where we need to reflect on how we can fight climate change with alternative structures, connecting the powerless and voiceless victims of climate change and people who have found solutions to the problems at hand. It is time we discuss the roots of the climate problem, including taboo issues such as greed, military spending, overconsumption and natural exploitation. Even the people who still deny the existence of climate change have to face the fact that oil will run out sooner or later and we need to be able to continue to exist without this resource that provides input into so many of our daily products. Maybe it is time to take the issue into our own hands. Politicians have invested much of their time and effort into coming up with a climate regime that will help us survive. Thirteen years after the Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in Rio, we can now confidently say that they have failed.