by Rosslyn Hyams
Article published on the 2009-11-24 Latest update 2009-12-04 15:49 TU
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, at the end of a meeting with EU environment ministers, Brussels,23 November, 2009.
2012, 2020, 2050 ... These climate change deadlines strike fear into the hearts of many, convey a sense of urgency to others or spur others still to action.
Some scientists and politicians dispute the claims about global warming issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other experts.
Some theories suggest that an increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere of between 2°C and 4°C is partly due to a natural cycle (a mini-ice age according to historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie in Questions Internationales N°38, lasted from the 14th century to about 1860 for example), and partly caused by human activity.
The IPCC has issued four reports since it was set up in 1988. They have provided the backbone to negotiations on the environment since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The Kyoto Protocol, which was agreed in Japan in 1997 and came into effect after Russia ratified it in 2005. The US has still not signed up.
It contains various mechanisms which have led to a reduction in green-house gas (GHG) emissions through the application of new policies, and awareness-raising in the signatory countries.
The Kyoto Protocol also provides a basis for mechanisms which fund energy-saving or GHG-reducing projects in developing countries, and which are fed by developed countries.