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The Mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol:
Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation

The mechanisms in the current negotiations:

Clean development mechanism

The first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 1) adopted the pdf-icon modalities and procedures for a clean development mechanism (CDM). Pursuant to that decision, the first review of the modalities and procedures for the CDM, was to be carried out by CMP 9.

CMP 9 requested the UNFCCC secretariat, drawing on the discussions that took place at the thirty-ninth session of the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI 39), and that were reflected in a pdf-icon note by the co-chairs, to prepare a pdf-icon technical paper on issues relating to possible changes to the modalities and procedures for the CDM, including their implications, for consideration at SBI 40 (see decision pdf-icon 4/CMP.9, paragraph 1).

At SBI 40, Parties made progress in their consideration as captured in the pdf-icon second note by the co-chairs, but could not come to conclusions on this agenda item. At SBI 41 Parties convened their consideration of this matter and concluded (pdf-icon FCCC/SBI/2014/L.35) to continue considering this matter. At SBI42. the consultations among Parties did not result in any conclusions and this matter will be considered at SBI43.

Background documents listed above:
pdf-icon Modalities and procedures for the CDM (decision 3/CMP.1)
pdf-icon Technical paper on issues relating to possible changes to the modalities and procedures for the CDM (FCCC/TP/2014/1)
Second note by the co-chairs (2014)

Other related documents:
pdf-icon Workshop report
-  Submissions by Parties (2013 and 2014) and Observer organizations.

Joint implementation

Review of the joint implementation guidelines

CMP 1 adopted the guidelines for the implementation of Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol (joint implementation (JI)).

In accordance with decision pdf-icon 6/CMP.8, SBI 39 (Nov. 2013) initiated the review of these guidelines and agreed to continue its consideration of this matter at SBI 40 (June 2014). At SBI 40 and SBI 41, Parties continued considering this matter. 

At SBI 42, Parties considered the following documentation, as requested by CMP 10, through its decision pdf-icon 5/CMP.10, and agreed to continue considering this matter at SBI 43 (Dec. 2015):

  • pdf-icon technical paper on the opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies for JI, learning from the experiences of the CDM, while recognizing the respective mandates of the two mechanisms;
  • pdf-icon synthesis report of submissions from Parties on examples of voluntary technical approaches, designed by host Parties for their JI projects, that could assist the host Parties in achieving their quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Elaborated pdf-icon recommendations on the review of the JI guidelines by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC).

At SBI 43, Parties considered the above documentation and agreed to continue discussing this matter at SBI 44 (May 2016), on the basis of the draft decision text and its appendix proposed by the co-chairs of the informal consultations on this agenda sub-item and contained in the annex to document pdf-icon FCCC/SBI/2015/30.

CMP 11, through its decision pdf-icon 7/CMP.11, requested the JISC to submit recommendations for consideration by SBI 44 on actions that would be necessary to implement the draft JI modalities and procedures, including changes to:

  • The rules of procedure of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee as adopted by decision 3/CMP.5;
  • Provisions under other decisions of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol relating to joint implementation.

CMP 11 also requested the JISC to submit recommendations for consideration by SBI 44 in the context of the review of JI guidelines, inter alia, on options to address:

  • Concerns raised by stakeholders;
  • Validation by an accredited independent entity of post-registration changes.

Synergy relating to accreditation under the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol

CMP 9 requested the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) to submit elaborated recommendations on the JI accreditation system aligned with that of the CDM, taking into consideration decision 6/CMP.8, paragraph 15(b), for consideration by SBI 40.

SBI 40 considered the synergy relating to accreditation under the mechanisms established under Articles 6 (JI) and 12 (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, taking note of the pdf-icon recommendation from the JISC, and recommended a pdf-icon draft decision on this matter for consideration and adoption at CMP 10.


Countries with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions must meet their targets primarily through national measures. As an additional means of meeting these targets, the Kyoto Protocol introduced three market-based mechanisms, thereby creating what is now known as the “carbon market.”  

The Kyoto mechanisms are:

The Kyoto mechanisms:

  • Stimulate sustainable development through technology transfer and investment
  •  Help countries with Kyoto commitments to meet their targets by reducing emissions or removing carbon from the atmosphere in other countries in a cost-effective way
  • Encourage the private sector and developing countries to contribute to emission reduction efforts


JI and CDM are the two project-based mechanisms which feed the carbon market. JI enables industrialized countries to carry out joint implementation projects with other developed countries, while the CDM involves investment in sustainable development projects that reduce emissions in developing countries.


The carbon market is a key tool for reducing emissions worldwide. It was worth 30 billion USD in 2006 and is growing.

Annex I Parties must provide information in their national communications under the Protocol to demonstrate that their use of the mechanisms is “supplemental to domestic action” to achieve their targets. This information is assessed by the facilitative branch of the Compliance Committee

Eligibility requirements

To participate in the mechanisms, Annex I Parties must meet, among others, the following eligibility requirements:

  • They must have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
  • They must have calculated their assigned amount in terms of tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions.
  • They must have in place a national system for estimating emissions and removals of greenhouse gases within their territory.
  • They must have in place a national registry to record and track the creation and movement of ERUs, CERs, AAUs and RMUs and must annually report such information to the secretariat.
  • They must annually report information on emissions and removals to the secretariat.


Detailed eligibility requirements

Detailed eligibility requirements can be found under the respective decisions agreed by the CMP, as follows:

  • ET eligibility requirements are reflected in in the Modalities, rules and guidelines for emissions trading under Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol ((PDF) decision 11/CMP.1);
  • CDM eligibility requirements are reflected in section F in the modalities and procedures ((PDF) decision 3/CMP.1);
  • JI eligibility requirements are reflected in section D in the Guidelines for implementation of Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol ((PDF) decision 9/CMP.1);

Businesses, non-governmental organizations and other legal entities may participate in the three mechanisms under the authority and responsibility of governments.

Key Decisions

Clean Development Mechanism
Decisions related to clean development mechanism (CDM) adopted by CMP (Dec. 2/CMP.1 to 7/CMP.1)
(PDF) more >>

Further guidance relating to the Clean Development Mechanism -Decision by CMP (PDF) more >>

Joint Implementation
Decisions related to joint implementation (JI) adopted by CMP (Dec. 9/CMP.1 to 10/CMP.1)
(PDF) more >>

Emissions Trading
Decisions related to emissions trading (ET) adopted by CMP (Dec. 11/CMP.1 to 13/CMP.1)
(PDF) more >>

Key Links

Clean Development Mechanism

Joint Implementation

Emissions Trading