The United States’ Withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord


The Kyoto Accord was adopted in 1997 in Japan in response to the global concerns about climate change. The accord was a multinational agreement targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries. The Kyoto protocol suggested that industrialized countries had more greenhouse emissions than developing countries. Therefore, the Kyoto protocol placed more burden and responsibilities on developed countries. The Kyoto protocol grouped countries into Annex 1 and Non-Annex 1 countries. Developed counties were grouped into Annex 1, while the developing countries were grouped into non-Annex 1 (Leggett, 2020). Emission limitations were placed on countries under Annex 1 only, while non-Annex 1 was only supposed to invest voluntarily in projects intended to lower greenhouse emissions. However, the United States withdrew from the agreement, although it had been involved in ratifying the original Kyoto protocol. This essay will discuss more on the pros and cons of the withdrawal by the United States from Kyoto accords.

Pros of the Retreat

The withdrawal of the US from the Kyoto accord had a positive impact on their economy. Their participation in the accord would have negatively impacted the economy. The emission of carbon dioxide is directly linked to energy consumption. Withdrawing from carbon dioxide production would indicate less production of carbon-intensive fuels such as coal (Dai et al., 2018). United States’ withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord led to increased output in the energy sector. This can be attributed to increased competitiveness against countries under the Kyoto Accord like Japan. Donald Trump had pledged to withdraw from the accord citing that the protocol would negatively affect the manufacturing sector and jobs in the US. He further mentioned that the accord only targeted developed countries like the United States, excluding India and China, as the agreement was in the 90s. This can be seen as biased considering that China and India are among the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world.

The signing of the Kyoto Accords would require interference with domestic policies. This would consequently increase the price of natural gas, oil, and coal. An increase in the price of these products would result in a high cost of living for Americans. Thriving businesses depend on natural gas, oil, and coal for their success, which positively contributes to the economy. The country would have been disadvantaged if it had complied with the agreement. In addition, the country was no longer bound to the Kyoto accord policies, which promoted restrictions on domestic energy production and fossil fuel. Oil production, which the US has ventured into, is one of the profitable areas and has promising economic growth. Predictions indicate that the US may overtake Russia, the leading country in oil production. This venture was restricted when the US was under the Kyoto accord.

The Kyoto accord required the US to contribute enormously towards attaining the targets of its aims. For example, when the US was under the Kyoto accord, president Obama pledged three million dollars from the taxpayers’ pockets. The amount paid would have increased over time in achieving the accord’s objective. Although the Kyoto accord treaty would positively impact climate change, the hefty cost would have negatively impacted taxpayers (Kim et al., 2020). The citizens raised concerns about the discriminatory terms and wanted to know the accountability and transparency of the money in 2015.

Cons of the Retreat

However, the withdrawal from the Kyoto accords significantly affected the international market of tradable permits by buyers and sellers. Retreating from the Kyoto protocol meant reduced demand for permits for greenhouse emissions. The lower permit price would significantly affect all countries’ research and development investments. The United States had a large impact on the research and development investment, and its withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord greatly impacted other Annex countries (Buchner et al., 2020). This, therefore, makes it difficult for the other countries to meet the demands of Kyoto of making efforts. The countries under the Kyoto Accord have to reduce their supply or increase their demand for carbon permits to meet the Kyoto target.

US defection from the Kyoto Accord has a negative impact on climate change. Emissions of greenhouse gases increased, and there was a reduction in the research and development investments in energy-saving options (Buchner et al., 2020). This would result in more damage to the climate, which would result in increased investments. This would further increase the energy demand and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Implementation of the second-order effect would result in further emission permit demand increase and a reduction in their supply.

Reducing energy savings research and development investments would reduce the World Stock of Knowledge, resulting in an emission-output ratio increase. This leads to increased emissions in all countries and, therefore, a need to increase the demand for the emission permits and their reduced supply to meet the Kyoto Accord’s target. Consequently, the permit price increase, therefore, offsetting the initial price permit fall, initiated the US withdrawal.

The Kyoto Accord advocated for the reduction of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Withdrawal by the US from the Kyoto Accords has resulted in increased production of ozone-depleting gases, leading to an increase in environmental change. The dangers of ozone layer depletion are baffling, yet the US withdrew from the Kyoto Accord, which would prevent this from happening. The United States is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China (Pickering et al., 2018). This makes it more vital for the US to unite with other greenhouse emitters countries to prevent climate change from progressing. Global havoc is likely due to the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord.

International relations between the US and other countries under Kyoto Accord were affected after it retreated from the protocol. The retreat demonstrates that the US is unwilling to cooperate with other nations in curbing climate change despite its awareness of the negative impacts of greenhouse gases on the environment. This will shamble the diplomatic relations with other nations, as reported by The Conference Board of Canada (Kim et al., 2020). Since the US is the leading producer of greenhouse gases, its retreat from the Kyoto Accord will make other countries have little impact on the efforts to reduce ozone layer depletion.


To sum up, the Kyoto accord had good intentions of curbing the climate change caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. The environmental changes caused by greenhouse emissions are dreadful, and thus a need for policies curbing this was necessary. However, the US withdrew from the accord because of economic reasons. The retreat of the US from the accord has advantages and disadvantages. The pros of US withdrawal are focused on economic growth without the restrictions of the accord. The negative effects of the retreat point to the harmful impacts of climate change associated with greenhouse emissions.


Buchner, B., Carraro, C., & Cersosimo, I. (2020). Economic consequences of the US withdrawal from the Kyoto/Bonn protocol. Climate Policy, 2(4), 273-292.

Dai, H., Xie, Y., Zhang, H., Wang, W., & SpringerLink (Online Service). (2018). Effects of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on the carbon emission space and cost of China and India. (Frontiers in energy.)

Kim, Y., Tanaka, K., & Matsuoka, S. (2020). Environmental and economic effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol. Plos One, 15(7), e0236299.

Leggett, J. A. (2020). The United Nations framework convention on climate change, the Kyoto protocol, and the Paris agreement: A summary. Congressional Research Service.

Pickering, J., McGee, J. S., Stephens, T., & Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, S. I. (2018). The impact of the US retreat from the Paris Agreement: Kyoto revisited. Climate Policy, 18(7), 818-827.

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DemoEssays. "The United States' Withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord." March 22, 2023.