The Kyoto mechanisms

The Kyoto Protocol includes three special mechanisms to assist in emissions reductions.

Joint implementation (JI) allows industrialised countries to implement projects that reduce emissions or increase removals by sinks in the territories of other industrialised countries. Emissions reduction units generated by such projects can then be used by investing Annex I countries to help meet their emissions targets. Examples of JI projects could be the replacement of a coal-fired power plant with a more efficient combined heat and power plant or the reforestation of an area of land. Joint implementation projects are expected to be mainly in EIT (economies in transition) countries where there is more scope for cutting emissions at low cost.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows industrialised countries to implement projects that reduce emissions in developing countries. The certified emission reductions generated can be used by industrialised countries to help meet their emissions targets, while the projects also help developing countries to achieve sustainable development and contribute to the objective of the Convention. Examples of CDM projects could be a rural electrification project using solar panels or the reforestation of degraded land.

Emissions trading allows industrialised countries to purchase 'assigned amount units' of emissions from other industrialised countries that find it easier, relatively speaking, to meet their emissions targets. This enables countries to utilise lower cost opportunities to curb emissions or increase removals, irrespective of where those opportunities exist, in order to reduce the overall cost of mitigating climate change. (See the box on carbon trading on page 299 for more detail.)

The detailed regulations concerning the implementation of these mechanisms state that projects will only be approved if they lead to real, measurable and long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change and that they are additional to any that would have occurred without the project.

and can be considered as an expression of the large uncertainties inherent in such studies at the present stage of development.

Given that failure of any Annex I Parties to meet their emission reduction targets could undermine the efforts of the others, it is important that any Party lagging in their commitments is identified early. The Protocol has therefore established a rigorous system of reporting and verification whereby states' annual emission estimation reports are scrutinised by independent experts. A Compliance Committee encourages compliance through a combination of 'carrot' and 'stick' measures. Through its Facilitative Branch it offers Parties financial and technical assistance towards meeting their commitments whilst its Enforcement Branch is responsible for declaring cases of non-compliance and has power to penalise Parties by preventing them from making use of the flexible mechanisms. For any Party exceeding their emissions allowance at the

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