37 countries say they have reduced GHGs by about 25% since 1990

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol set binding climate targets for developed countries, which took effect in 2005. Its first commitment period ran from 2008 to 2012 and set an average reduction target of 5% compared to 1990 levels. The protocol’s second phase, called the second commitment period, was established by the Doha Amendment in 2012 and runs from 2013 to 2020. The amendment strengthened quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments for 37 developed countries and set a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 18% compared to 1990 levels.

In addition, if current annual average emissions of Annex B parties (amounting to 5,696 Mt CO₂eq in the period 2013–2018) remain at this level for 2019 and 2020, the emission reduction target of 18% could be further exceeded.

The assessment of the latest information received from parties with commitments under the Doha Amendment (Annex B parties), shows that total aggregate GHG emissions were 25.3% lower than in 1990.

The Kyoto Protocol covers six categories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Apart from the emissions, biomass carbon sinks were taken into account .

Reducing methane emissions has for a long time been seen as one of the cheapest measures to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. The 2019 National Inventory Report from the Swedish Environmental Protection Board states, for example, that during the commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol methane emissions (CH₄) have decreased by 39% in Sweden.

Countries were allowed to offset emissions by investing in carbon-cutting projects in poorer nations and most developed countries have fulfilled their commitments.

UN Climate Change is expected to publish a formal review of countries’ carbon-cutting efforts during the period to 2020.

“While the results of this assessment are very encouraging, they only apply to a group of some 37 countries that agreed to emission reduction targets under the Doha Amendment,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “Globally however, emissions have been rising, which clarifies the urgent need for greater ambition,” she added.

The assessment under the Doha Amendment revealed that the GHG reductions have generally been achieved through national mitigation actions.

“This shows the potential of consistently implementing climate change policies and actions at the national level. Through the NDC process, countries have the opportunity to further advance climate policies and actions, and to ratchet them up over time” Ms. Espinosa underlined.


Compiled by Reinhold Pape

In this issue


The clock is ticking to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. To be clear right from the start: this goal deserves every effort that mankind can pull off. In the name of realism, this is the goal we must focus on now, given the current level of progress in reducing greenhouse gases. However, damage to marine ecosystems will not be avoided even if we reach this goal1. In fact, damage already occurs at current levels of warming, as evidenced by the bleaching of coral reefs2. This may be an inconvenient truth when our current goal is 1.5°C.

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