The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the battle against climate change. It is a treaty that has been signed and ratified by 184 countries with the goal of achieving the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." It entered in force in 2005.
The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol where the targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions .The target is an average of five per cent against 1990 levels between 2008-2012. In addition to the limits, the Kyoto Protocol introduces three mechanisms how the targets are to be met.
Primarily, the countries must reduce their emissions through national measures, meaning that they have to take action to actually diminish their greenhouse gas pollution. But since the economies of most countries are highly dependent on industries that are high polluters, three other mechanisms were introduced to ease the reduction scheme.
The first mechanism introduced in the Kyoto Protocol is the Emissions Trading. Emissions trading, as set out in Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, allows countries that have emission units to spare - emissions permitted them but not "used" - to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets. This scheme is in use for example in the European Union and is one of the largest trading schemes in operation.
Second mechanism provided by the Kyoto Protocol is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), defined in Article 12 of the Protocol. The CDM is a purchase system where saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits can be earned by implementing an emission-reduction project in developing countries. This is a unique global environmental investment system and there exists now 1849 registered CDM project activities.
Third mechanism is so called „joint implementation" ,defined in Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol. The „joint implementation" allows an Annex II country to earn emission reduction units (ERUs) from an emission-reduction or emission removal project in another Annex II country through a flexible and cost-efficient foreign investment and technology transfer.
Source: The Kyoto Protocol