Adopted in December 1997, this Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlights the international community's new attitude towards the phenomenon of climate change. Under the Protocol, the industrialised countries have undertaken to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) by at least 5% during the period 2008–2012 compared with 1990 levels.
The Kyoto Protocol provides for three market-based mechanisms: emissions trading between countries which signed the Protocol, joint implementation of projects by these countries, and the clean development mechanism (with countries which did not sign the Protocol).
For their part, the Member States of the European Union (EU) have undertaken to reduce their emissions over the same period by 8%. In 2003, global emissions of the six greenhouse gases in the countries of the Union were 1.7% below 1990 levels.
On 31 May 2002, the Union and its Member States ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Russia's ratification of the Protocol in 2004 allowed it to enter into force on 16 February 2005 and become binding on the signatory countries.
The Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards tackling the problem of climate change. In November 2005, a Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol gave renewed impetus to the Protocol and laid the foundations for future discussions on the international framework to tackle climate change. Moreover, at the European Council in March 2007 the EU undertook unilaterally to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and called on developed countries to conclude an international agreement establishing a global reduction target of 30% by 2020.