DECEMBER 11, 1997 – International negotiators, representing 159 countries, struck an historical agreement Wednesday to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
After 11 days of intense debate at the Third Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, delegates agreed to the following provisions:
Thirty-eight developed countries agreed to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases. Collectively, developed countries agreed to cut back their emissions by a total of 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2012 from 1990 levels. The six gases included carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and three ozone-damaging fluorocarbons not covered by the Montreal Protocol that banned global chlorofluorocarbons (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride).
Developed countries that cannot meet their own emissions targets can strike deals with other developed countries that do better than required, to buy the excess "quota" – a concept known as emissions trading. This may encourage reductions to be made where most cost-effective.