Policy ForumClimate Change

Toward the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol

Science  13 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6031, pp. 795-796
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202087

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Summary

Expectations are high that the Kyoto Protocol, intended to reduce emissions of certain greenhouse gases (GHGs), will be extended after its first reporting period ends in 2012. The mechanisms available to meet Kyoto targets will likely also be extended. But our scientific understanding of the carbon and methane cycles and the radiative effects of black carbon were less developed in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was established, and in 2001, when the Marrakesh Accords solidified mechanism details. Before entering the second commitment period, international policy instruments should be both modified to correct internal inconsistencies and updated to reflect recent scientific advances. Such advances support changes to the protocol's treatment of short-lived gases, such as methane, and the inclusion of black carbon within the Kyoto framework.

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