French Environment and Energy Management Agency
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ADEME in action
The development of human activities is increasing the greenhouse effect, which has led to a rise in the Earth’s surface temperature and risks causing significant change to the world’s climate. The international community now recognizes the magnitude of the problem and is planning measures to combat this phenomenon.
The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon. Certain gases such as carbon dioxide and methane – already present in the atmosphere in small quantities – trap a large amount of solar radiation. Their role is to maintain an average temperature on Earth of about 15°C.
However, economic development – stemming primarily from the use of natural energy sources such as carbon and oil – has led to increasing emissions of these types of gas, called “greenhouse gases”.
Consequently, the Earth’s surface temperature is rising extremely rapidly. Since the early 20th century, the temperature has risen by 0.6°C and risks escalating by between 1.4 and 5.8°C over the course of the 21st century. Global warming could lead to severe climate change and make extreme weather phenomena (storms, floods, heat-waves and the like) a more regular occurrence.
In 1992, following warnings from scientists and the international community’s recognition of the gravity of the problem, 153 out of the 186 nations represented at the UN signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio as a precautionary measure. The Convention entered into force in 1994. Its main objective is to coordinate actions as part of an international programme to forecast, prevent and limit the causes of climate change and reduce any negative effects.
The Convention recognizes, “the common but differentiated responsibilities” of each country. In this context, every nation committed to managing its initiatives while only industrialized nations (cited in Annexe I of the convention) set specific targets with regard to their emissions, i.e. not exceeding those levels recorded in 1990 by the year 2000, a target that was never met. What’s more, these countries decided to assist developing countries in trying to reduce their emissions by way of financial aid.
The scope of this convention was extended by the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 111 countries in 1997. The protocol sets legally binding objectives for industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-2012 in relation to levels recorded in 1990. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 following Russia’s ratification of the agreement.
Within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 8% by 2008-2012 in relation to levels recorded in 1990. The necessary initiatives have been distributed among Member States. France is playing its part by committing to stabilizing its emissions and limiting them to 565 million tonnes of C02 equivalent per year by 2008-2012. To help pave the way for meeting these targets, France adopted a special Climate Programme in 2004.
French Environment and Energy Management Agency Source http://www.ademe.fr