The Kyoto Protocol

The effects of climate change are global and hence mitigation requires coordinated international effort. Signed in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008 to 2012 to 5.2% below those in 1990. Emissions of greenhouse gases by the US are currently 20% higher than in 1990 while the target figure in Kyoto was a cut of 7%. In the long run however it is prudent for industrialized countries to reduce their emissions by 60% by 2050 if the worst effects of climate change are to be mitigated with any confidence. This is a major challenge, to individuals, to governments and to supranational bodies. Greatest responsibility rests of course with the nations producing the largest CO2 emissions per capita and those moving fast up the emissions table. Table 1.1 illustrates the variation in emissions per head and how this is partly driven by the income per head. Emissions from China are expected to surpass those of the US by 2025 so there is much to be done.

Figure 1.4 Climate warming can be simulated when man-made factors are included. (© Crown copyright 2007, the Met Office)
Table 1.1 Energy related CO2 emissions. (Reproduced with permission from Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) version 4.0 (or 5.0). World Resources Institute, 2007, available at http://cait.wri.org)

Country/grouping

CO2 per head (tCO2)

GDP per head ($)

USA

20.4

34 430

EU

9.4

23 577

UK

9.6

27 276

Japan

9.8

26021

China

3.0

4379

India

1.1

2555

World

4.0

7 649

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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