THE EARTH can now breathe better.

The Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international agreement which addresses issues on global warming, finally came into force after Russia’s signing. Russia contributes 17 per cent to the world’s toxic emissions. The Kyoto Protocol needed the signatures of countries contributing to at least 55 per cent of the world’s toxic emissions to come into force.

The protocol, which aims to decrease emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, became effective on Feb. 16. A total of 122 countries signed and ratified the protocol. The Philippines accepted the treaty on April 15, 1998.

Formed and developed in Kyoto, Japan, the protocol envisions a 5.2 per cent cut in the emissions of harmful gases by 2012. It created an emissions trading system allowing the countries to sell emission certificates (equivalent to cash) if their set targets are met, or buy them if their goal is not met.

The pact is the first successful attempt to achieve international agreement to control global climate change. Signatories are given the responsibility to improve land management, restrain dangerous carbon levels on industrial and transportation zones, and lessen air pollution at the local, national and international levels.

The protocol also advocates the preservation of carbon reservoirs in forestry and agricultural sectors, and calls on countries to practice better soil conservation and to develop partnerships among countries for environmental protection and care.

The protocol will be very beneficial to the environment, according to Richard Thomas Pavia, Jr., an ecology instructor from the College of Science, Department of Biological Sciences. “However, leverage of the rich, industrialized countries from the poorer ones is evident in the process of trading certificates, for some signatories may have political intentions,” Pavia said. Laurence John R. Morales

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