DEFINITION of 'Kyoto Protocol'
An international agreement that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the presence of greenhouse gases. Countries that ratify the Kyoto Protocol are assigned maximum carbon emission levels and can participate in carbon credit trading. Emitting more than the assigned limit will result in a penalty for the violating country in the form of a lower emission limit in the following period.
BREAKING DOWN 'Kyoto Protocol'
The Kyoto Protocol separates countries into two groups. Annex I includes developed nations, while Non-Annex I refers to developing countries. Emission limitations are only placed on Annex I countries. Non-Annex I nations participate by investing in projects that lower emissions in their own countries. For these projects, they earn carbon credits. These credits can be traded or sold to Annex I countries, which allow them a higher level of maximum carbon emissions for that period.