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The contribution of developing countries in the global effort to tackle climate change: analysis of the transition from the Kyoto protocol to the Paris agreement.

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The urgency to reduce current greenhouse gases emissions from both developing and developed country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to stabilise the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius or well below at the end of the present century has led the international climate change diplomacy to adopt the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change in replacement to the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2020. Although substantially nuanced in its approach, the Paris Agreement represents as a new climate change treaty, a significant regime shift for developing countries, because it puts them under a legally binding obligation to undertake emission mitigation activities, conversely to the Kyoto Protocol which left them free from any obligation. This is because the objective of stabilising the global temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius as said above requires considerable mitigation efforts from all countries, urged to undertake a transition towards fully decarbonised economies by the half of this century. In order to determine to what extent the greenhouse gases emission reduction regime has for developing country shifted from what it was under the Kyoto Protocol to what it has become under the Paris Agreement, the study focuses on two following questions: (i) What are the differences and the similarities between the greenhouse gases emissions mitigation regime under both treaties, and, (ii) what are the implications of those probable differences or similarities for the developing countries? Whereas at a first glance the analysis shows that there are not much substantial elements of comparison between the two regimes instituted by the two climate change treaties, a closer consideration of the characteristics of the new universal regime under the Paris Agreement has offered pathways for an intensive regime comparison between Kyoto and Paris. Analysis further allowed us throw lights on the implications of the differences and similarities of both regimes for the group of developing countries. The study at last makes valuable recommendations for a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement by Developing countries, especially the poorest among them.


Master of Law in Environmental Law. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.


Climate change., United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992 May 9), Greenhouse gas mitigation.