Better shape up

Kyoto's compliance force begins operation

By Ritu Gupta
Published: Saturday 15 April 2006

on march 2, 2006, the Kyoto Protocol got some teeth with its Compliance Committee beginning operations. The 20-member body comprises two branches: the Enforcement Branch and the Facilitative Branch. The former has the power to determine consequences for parties that do not meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, while the latter will render advice and assistance to promote compliance. Argentina's Ral Estrada Oyuela, elected Chair of the Enforcement Branch, described the Kyoto Protocol compliance system as "groundbreaking" and pointed out that the organ was "designed to ensure credibility to the protocol's provisions, in particular the carbon market created by it". Under the Kyoto Protocol, 35 industrialised countries and the European Economic Community are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below levels specified for each of them. Overall, this should amount to reductions of at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

The committee will consider individual cases of violations and determine consequences. It will report annually to the meeting of the parties to the protocol. Ross Gelbspan, a us- based climate expert, lauded the establishment of the committee and said, "A climate treaty without compliance and enforcement mechanisms is like gift-wrapping on an empty box." Gelbspan, however, cautioned: "Whether it survives the inevitable attempts to sabotage any kind of enforcement is, given today's political climate, an open question.

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