This paper aims to present, from the perspectives of Germany and Japan, some of the major issues facing the international community in reaching agreement on the Kyoto Protocol and its implementation. It also provides the background leading up to the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Berlin Mandate, and the Kyoto Protocol. Although the protocol was finally signed by all participating countries (except a few) after long, protracted negotiations, the Berlin Mandate, the legally-binding minimum targets set forth for reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2008 to 2012, and the priorities given to domestic solutions over external measures provided some countries, notably the United States, an excuse for rejecting the protocol. During the subsequent international negotiations Germany took a lead in pushing the hard-line European Union position, while Japan tried to mediate between the European Union and the soft-line United States position to bring the two sides closer together in an attempt to bring the United States back into the protocol, get it ratified by as many signatory countries as possible, and put into effect as soon as possible. The paper concludes that while the protocol’s fate appears to have ended up in the hands of Russia, the greatest hurdle for GHG emissions reduction lies ultimately in the extent to which the governments of developed countries and European economies in transition can convince their citizens, corporations, and other entities to meet those targets within the prescribed time limit.
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