- Joint Program Report
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement aimed at limiting emissions of several greenhouse gases (GHGs; specifically: CO2, CH4, N2O, PFCs, HFCs, and SF6), and allows credit for approved sinks for CO2. It does not include consideration of several other trace atmospheric constituents that have important indirect effects on the radiative budget of the atmosphere. Here we show that inclusion of other GHGs and CO2 sinks greatly reduces the cost of achieving CO2 emissions reductions specified under the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol extrapolated to 2100 reduces predicted warming by only about 17%. The errors caused by simulating other GHGs with scaled amounts of CO2 on atmospheric composition, climate, and ecosystems are small. Larger errors come from failure to account for interactive and climatic effects of gases that affect atmospheric composition but are not included in the protocol (CO, NOx, and SOx). Over the period to 2100, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) indices based on a 100-year time horizon as specified in the protocol appear to be an adequate representation of trace gas climatic effects. The principal reason for the success of this simplified GWP approach in our calculations is that the mix of gas emissions resulting from a carbon-only rather than a multi-gas control strategy does not change by a large amount.