Montreal Protocol versus Kyoto Protocol

In retrospect, the Montreal Protocol was the most successful protocol of an international treaty to be signified by 196 countries in the last century. Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan quoted as saying that “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol“. What made the Montreal Protocol particularly successful was when the US, the most powerful country took the lead by getting its Congressional leadership, citizenry, industry, and environmental groups fully on board.  At the time, US leadership saw a problem and decided to bring together both stakeholders and stewards in the spirit of mitigating the ozone layer depletion problem by ratifying the Montreal treaty in 1978.

During the mid 1970s, there were enough findings and discoveries by the two scientists at the University of California at Irvine to prove  the ozone layer was depleting.  Congress gave the two scientists face time and even heard their testimony, and became convinced of their findings.   By then, the two scientists had Congress on board. The US government clearly took the global lead in getting the Montreal Protocol initially ratified in the 1980s by 197 countries.

On the contrary, the Kyoto Protocol has not had the same process and success.  Kyoto had good intentions, but it became mired in contentiousness among stewards and stakeholders.  Firstly, President George W. Bush signed it, but he never sent it to the US Senate to be ratified.  He never intended to get it signed because the oil, gas, and coal lobbyists were determined to stop it before it hit the US Senate starting gate.  Kyoto is a good protocol because it forces the industrialized economies which are the biggest emitters to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) levels and paying up for their penalties.  The US has committed only to 7% and it is the biggest CO2 emitter per person footprint.  It is significantly important that the US ratifies the Kyoto Treaty because it is the largest single country fossil fuel consumer globally.  The fact that we have not ratified the Kyoto Treaty in the US Senate has resulted in environmentally endangering Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean island states such as Papua New Guinea and The Maldives.

Furthermore, Canada, a key and critical industrialized nation withdrew from the protocol because it was hit with many penalties and, therefore, felt it would be imposed with penalties in the amount of $6-14 billion.  Canada is significant to the Kyoto Protocol because it is a hefty energy exporter to the US.  Canada is also the largest holder of sand tars in the world.  With the Canadian withdrawal, it may make small, industrialized countries such as Australia and Iceland rethink whether to commit all the way or not with the Kyoto Protocol.

Germany has been the ‘poster adult country’ of the Kyoto Protocol. Germany is the country producing the most solar power in the world and the world’s top user of photovoltaic(PV) solar technology which produces electricity from sunshine, as well as installed nearly half the world’s total of this technology.  Germany is obtaining its energy from solar power more than any other nation and the amount keeps growing each year.  To further sing the praises of Germany as an CO2 emitter buster, Germany has decreased its emissions of carbon dioxide by 122 million tons per year – equal to taking 21 million cars off the road.

Since 1990,  carbon dioxide emissions from German energy sources have fallen by over 20%.  Germany boasts the greatest emissions reduction of any nation under the Kyoto Protocol.  Modernizing polluting industries in the former East Germany following reunification have contributed significantly to Germany being in a position of reducing its GHG levels.  It is no wonder why Germany wields great political clout in international climate negotiations because of its sterling record of greenhouse gas(GHG) reductions.  From an economic perspective,  the move to renewable energy has been a boon for the German economy because Germany has created more than 300,000 jobs.  With more countries like Germany paving the way to a global renewable and sustainable future, the United Nations Framework on Conventional Climate Change(UNFCC) would be almost to the point of ratifying the second Kyoto Protocol and not struggling to keep the protocol afloat.


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