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The Kyoto Protocol Is in Effect! Around the World, 141 Countries Are Taking the First Steps to Decrease Greenhouse Gases!
News story originally written on February 16, 2005

As of February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol is in effect. Countries from around the world have signed the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into Earth's atmosphere, which will slow the rate of global warming. The Kyoto Protocol is an opportunity for the world to work together. According to Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese Prime Minister, "from now, we have to build a system in which more nations will work together under the common framework to stop global warming".

Over the past 150 years, humans have caused an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels for purposes such as powering cars, factories, and homes, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The arrangement of atoms in these gases allows them to trap heat in our atmosphere. The increased amounts of greenhouse gases cause warming of the planet.

One hundred and forty-one counties have signed to the Kyoto Protocol. By signing, countries agree to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere. Overall, the cuts will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2% by the year 2012 for the countries that agree to the Protocol. That may not seem like much of a drop, but it will be a challenge for many countries where the amount of greenhouse gases released has generally been increasing each year.

Not all countries of the world signed the Kyoto Protocol. The countries that did sign it together account for 55% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The country that emits the most greenhouse gases, the United States, has not agreed to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In 2001, United States President George W Bush decided that the US would not participate. Large developing countries including India, China and Brazil are not required to make changes to the amount of greenhouse gases they release either.

The Kyoto Protocol will not cause enough change to stop global warming caused by increased amounts of greenhouses gases, but it is a good first step. According to Klaus Toepfer, head of the United Nations Environment Program, more hard work needs to be done to fight global warming and its possible effects on the world's climate.

Last modified February 16, 2005 by Lisa Gardiner.

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