Part 3: The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol

The Emissions Trading Scheme - summary information for public entities and auditors.

In 1992, the New Zealand Government signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is an international environmental agreement that aims to stabilise “greenhouse gases”. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), which are released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels or from agriculture, respectively, and from many other human-generated activities.

The UNFCCC is a broad, principles-based, agreement that aims to prevent climate change that might be caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases. Although there is still some debate about the causes of climate change, many nations are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The UNFCCC includes provisions for binding protocols. In 1998, the New Zealand Government signed the Kyoto Protocol and it entered into force in February 2005. The ETS is the Government’s primary tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for meeting New Zealand’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

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