Should the United States ratify the Kyoto Protocol?

Carbon Dioxide

The 2014 Treaty Event: Towards Universal Participation and Implementation took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 23 – 25 and 30 September, and 1 October 2014. At the event, five more states gave acceptance to the 2012 Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore, Peru and Djibouti, as of September 30, 2014, have now ratified the Doha amendment. The Doha amendment established the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The amendment is an important part of global climate action for the years leading up to 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol was established to reduce international emissions of carbon dioxide below state’s already existing baselines. Now the Protocol is aiming to reduce various greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol Official site states that “[t]he goal is to lower overall emissions from six greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, and PFCs.” The Doha amendment is seeking to add nitrogen trifluoride to the list of greenhouse gases emissions listed in Annex A of the Protocol. Under the amendment, the parties agree to not exceed their assigned amounts of emissions as listed in the table under Annex B of the amendment. The amendment is also aiming to reduce their overall emissions by at least 18% below the 1990 levels during the commitment period 2013 to 2020.

Acceptance of this amendment is a major step towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions that are extremely harmful to the environment. Human activities are thought to be the cause of the human-induced phenomenon of global warming. To prevent further natural disasters that are thought to be caused by increased temperatures, states worldwide have to come to a formal agreement to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified this treaty. Do you think the U.S. should ratify the treaty? Is it a necessary step to take in the battle we are currently facing with climate change? If the U.S. were to ratify the treaty, do you think that would give other states an incentive to ratify the treaty as well?

Source: Kyoto Protocol, Doha Amendment, Treaty Event, Doha Amendment PDF

Photo: Climate Change


  1. From an economic perspective, it is understandable that the United States does not want to ratify the treaty. The United States position may be that by having to legally reduce emissions, American businesses will not be able to maximize their output. Furthermore, there will be regulatory costs in enforcing this legislation. It is difficult to persuade politicians in the United States to agree to the regulatory terms when they feel their constituency will be negatively affected.

    However, the effects of global warming are becoming apparent. Weather patterns are clearly being affected and it seems as if we are heading into a long term catastrophe. The United States should continue to invest in green energy and get to a point where it could continue to produce at its maximum output while staying within the regulatory emission amount. Unfortunately, time is limited.

  2. The United States needs to take a stand and actively take steps towards combating climate change. I do believe that the United States should ratify the Kyoto Protocol; however, the United States needs to take action rather than just signing the treaty. There would be economic impacts, yet this would be outweighed by the environmental and health impacts on future generations. The reduction of emissions should not solely be from industry, it must start at a local level; reducing some of the economically burdens it may place on industry.
    If the United States were to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and took proactive steps towards the reduction of emissions, then we may influence other countries to ratify the treat as well. This could set a good example for other countries to take proactive steps in order to combat global climate change.

  3. Countries are forced to consider whether they want to protect the economic climate or the global climate. I don’t think that if the United States were to ratify this treaty, other countries would follow suit and do the same. It seems that economic considerations are overwhelmingly dissuading the United States from ratifying. The incentives, I think, do not outweigh the sacrifices. I think it is this exact consideration that is preventing more countries from ratifying the treaty. American businesses might be more incentivzed by promises of significant tax breaks or a promise for future business opportunities. Currently, however, the only incentive is a long term effect that for many seems unrealistic. The United States is faced with a difficult decision. A decision that is not easier to make in an economic downturn. Had the country enjoyed better economic prosperity, the conversation surrounding ratification would have enjoyed a more amicable audience.

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