Today in history – December 11th, 1997 – the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change was signed.
In 1992 the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted and was a major force in addressing the problem of global warming. As greenhouse gas levels rose around the world it became clear that countries had to be committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This commitment came in the form of the Kyoto Protocol. Name after the city it was signed in, Kyoto, Japan, the now has over 174 parties that have ratified the protocol. Of these 36 are have committed to reduce their greenhouse gas levels by at least 5% of the 1990 baseline. These targets must be reached within a five year time frame between 2008 and 2012. One notable exception, is United States even though it is a member of the UNFCCC. On February 16th, 2005 the protocol entered into force and will expire in 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol affects almost all the major sectors of the economy and is considered to be the most far-reaching agreement on environment and sustainable development ever adopted. Since its inception many governments have adopted new policies to meet their protocol commitments. And in the future the protocol will act as a framework for any international agreement on climate change. Some doubt the connection between greenhouse gasses and climate change. But, the Fourth Assessment Report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, launched this year may have put an end to those doubts.
Also on this date in 1844, Dr. Horace Wells was the first to receive dental use of nitrous oxide. See related educational resources on anaesthetics or visit the Biomedical Engineering Education, disciplinary community.