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The Kyoto Agreement is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and it needs to be ratified by the participant countries—in the U.S. by the Senate—before it is binding.

The Kyoto Agreement calls for all countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels by the year 2012, or to engage in emission trading if they maintain or increase their emissions. The emission reduction of 5.2 percent is a global goal, so every country will have an individual emission reduction goal to reach. During the time of the meeting, the reduction goal was 7 percent for the United States, according to the Wikipedia. Developing countries needed only to set voluntary limits, and a few countries with very low emission rates were allowed to increase their emissions.

Before becoming binding for the signing countries, the Kyoto Agreement needed to be ratified by countries accounting for at least 55 percent of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels. When the United States refused to ratify it, the destiny of the agreement was in the hands of Russia, which ratified it in November 2004.

In February 2005, the Kyoto Agreement came into force and bound all signed developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels before 2012. As of September 2005, 158 countries that emit 61.1 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions had ratified the Kyoto Agreement.


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