Kyoto Protocol

On December 11, 1997, Kyoto Protocol was concluded in Japan, Kyoto, in the framework of the third conference of Climate Change Framework Convention parties. This implementing provision of the convention influences all larger sectors of economy and is an environmental and sustainable development agreement of most far-reaching impact ever adopted.

Estonia ratified the Kyoto Protocol on September 3, 2002 (RT II 2002, 26, 111, RT I 2004, 43, 298).

The aim of the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among the countries of Annex 1 during 2008-2012 by 5%, compared to 1990 (the so-called base year). To achieve this aim, three Flexible Mechanisms have been proposed:

  • Joint Implementation (JI),
  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM);
  • Emissions Trading (ET).

The two first flexible mechanisms are so-called project-based, which means that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is considered on the level of specific projects. They are directed at reducing emission in economically most efficient way.

The third Kyoto mechanism – Emissions Trading – does not provide real decrease, but enables countries to meet the obligation of decreasing their emissions by the allowed emission units purchased from other countries.

Kyoto Protocol regulates six main greenhouse gases, which are the following:

  • carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • methane (CH4);
  • nitrous oxide (N2O);
  • hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs);
  • perfluorocarbons (PFCs);
  • sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

The Protocol does not consider decrease of hydridochloridofluoridocarbon (CFC) emission, as this is regulated by Montreal Protocol, issued in 1987.


The voluntarily accepted obligation to reduce emission is characterised by Kyoto target number. For Estonia, the latter is 8%. Target number varies by countries, for the industrial and economic development of countries has been different.

In addition to establishing duties in relation to reduction of emissions, the Kyoto Protocol also includes specific requirements on monitoring and reporting. Among other issues, each country has to create a register on trading with greenhouse gas emissions  and ensure the transparency of the process.

Article 2 of the Kyoto Protocol prescribes the parties mentioned in Annex I the obligation to fulfil and/or supplement strategies and measures, corresponding to the state context, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in:

  • making energy use more efficient in national sectors of economy;
  • researching and developing environment-friendly technologies, corresponding to technologies for the capture of renewable power supplies and carbon dioxide as well as contemporary requirements, but also in facilitating and expanding the use of these technologies;
  • limiting methane emission in energy production, transfer and division, as well as waste conditioning;
  • limiting the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by transportation, that are not regulated with Montreal Protocol;
  • improving sustainable agriculture that takes into account considerations for avoiding climate change.


The performance of obligations of Article 3 of the Kyoto Protocol is ensured by making energy more efficient in respective sectors of national economy, researching and developing environment-friendly technologies, in line with pollution charge, renewable energy resources, technologies for the capture of carbon dioxide, and contemporary requirements, as well as by facilitating expanding their use.

The Republic of Estonia has already performed the obligation, set by the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce emissions by 8% in 2008-2012, compared to 1990. European Union has the obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, and it has been divided between the Member States with EU Burden Sharing Agreement.

Last updated: 15.07.2021