What are the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement?

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a sustainable level and thus counteracting serious consequences. Following ratification by the 50th state, it entered into force in 1994.

The signatory states meet at regular intervals at the so-called COPs (Conference of the Parties) to agree on further action in climate protection. In 1997, this meeting was held in Kyoto in Japan, during which the "Kyoto Protocol", the first document with legally binding obligations for limits and reductions, was adopted by the ratified countries. The period of applicability was set for the years 2008 to 2012 (1. obligation period) and 2013 to 2020 (2. obligation period). 

In order to be able to maintain the international climate protection process after 2020, a new climate agreement was required. This was adopted in 2015 at the COP in Paris as the "Paris Agreement", which, for the first time, included a specific target for limiting global warming to well below 2°C above the pre-industrial levels of 1750. The ratified countries set their own reduction targets, whereby a review and strengthening of the climate protection efforts was to take place every 5 years. In October 2016, the required number of at least 55 ratified countries, which are responsible for at least 55 % of the global greenhouse gas emissions, was reached, which meant the agreement could enter into force. 

Sources: IASS Potsdam, German Environment Agency, BMU Germany

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