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Kyoto Protocol report card: 100 percent compliance

The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, but Congress never ratified the agreement.

By Brooks Hays
All 36 countries who committed to the Kyoto Protocol were in compliance between 2008 and 2012, according to a new report. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
All 36 countries who committed to the Kyoto Protocol were in compliance between 2008 and 2012, according to a new report. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- According to a new report, all 36 countries who committed to the Kyoto Protocol were in 100 percent compliance with emissions mandates during the first commitment period, from 2008 to 2012.

The agreement, first penned in 1992 under the framework of the United Nations, acknowledged man-made climate change and set greenhouse gas emissions limits for involved nations.

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Of the 36 committed nations, only nine failed to meet their established emissions reductions targets. These countries were able to remain in compliance by undertaking "flexibility mechanisms."

Because it's cheaper to reduce emissions in some countries than in others, flexibility mechanisms -- the ability to offset emissions by purchasing or trading carbon credits, or by incentivizing investment in sustainable energy -- were built in to level the playing field.

According to the new report of compliance, published in the journal Climate Policy, the cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions was significantly cheaper than many economists predicted. In Europe, to cost of compliance was only 0.1 percent of GDP. In Japan, the cost was even lower.

"There is often skepticism about the importance of international law, and many critics claim that the Kyoto Protocol failed," Michael Grubb, chief editor of Climate Policy, said in a news release. "The fact that countries have fully complied is highly significant, and it helps to raise expectations for full adherence to the Paris Agreement."

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The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, but never ratified the agreement and failed to commit to specific greenhouse gas reductions.

The United States was signature to the Paris Agreement, which was signed under the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The global threat aims to stave off global warming -- limiting temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius -- by setting standards and targets for greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change preparedness. The agreement won't go into effect until 2020.

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