Joint Implementation (JI) Kyoto Protocol

Last updated: 8 March, 2016

The objective of the Kyoto Protocol’s Joint Implementation (JI) is to allow Annex I countries a more flexible and potentially cost-effective means to fulfill their Kyoto commitments. JI allows a country with an emission reduction commitment (i.e. Annex B Parties) to generate emission reduction units (ERUs) from domestic projects and sell them to another Annex I country, which then uses them to help meet its Kyoto target. 


Joint Implementation is a project-based mechanism like the Clean Development Mechanism but some of the accounting is different because JI projects are nested within countries that have emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) generated by non-land-use JI activities are created through a conversion of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), while for land-use (including forestry) projects this is through a conversion of Removal Units (RMUs) generated by the country as a result of national level net sequestration.

The rules and procedures for Joint Implementation are defined in decisions of the Kyoto Protocol Meeting of the Parties, in particular Decision 9/CMP.1. Joint Implementation projects may be conducted under either of two tracks. Track 1 is for Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that have an assigned amount calculated and recorded, a national system for the estimation of emissions, a national registry, and have submitted annual inventories of GHG emissions and supplementary information on its assigned amount. Track 1 allows the host country more control and imposes fewer external requirements. Track 2 applies to countries that don’t meet Track 1 eligibility and projects therefore require additional approvals (see Process below). 

Design Features

Forest management, afforestation and reforestation. The Project Design Document form appears to limit the definition of a LULUCF project to one that aims at enhancing removals by sinks. However, there has been one project (Bikin Tiger Carbon Project) approved that focuses on the protection of an otherwise logged forest in Russia, or an avoided forest degradation project. 

Project (nested in national accounting).

The baseline for a JI project is “the scenario that reasonably represents the anthropogenic emissions by sources or anthropogenic removals by sinks of greenhouse gases that would occur in the absence of the proposed project”. Baseline methods must be justified, can take into account relevant national and/or sectoral policies and circumstances, and should also take into account uncertainties and use conservative assumptions. Methodologies approved by the Executive Board of the CDM may be applied to JI projects.

Additionality is required. As long as the host country of a project meets eligibility requirements to participate in Track 1 it may verify removals as being additional. For Track 2, verification of additionality must occur through a procedure under the Article 6 Supervisory Committee (which implies determination by an Accredited Independent Entity) and include provision of traceable and transparent information showing that the baseline was identified on the basis of conservative assumptions, or the application of an approved CDM tool for additionality.

Increased emissions and reduced removals directly attributable to the JI project outside the project boundary are to be accounted for. The project must undertake an assessment of the potential leakage of the proposed JI project (provide an ex-ante estimate) and explain which sources of leakage are to be calculated and which can be neglected. Leakage within a country may also be captured via national accounting.

Annex I countries are required to account for net emissions or sequestration from afforestation, reforestation and deforestation during the first commitment period, and also forest management in the second. If a reversal occurs in a JI forestry project, this will therefore be captured in the national accounting.  If a project results in a reversal, the liability falls on the host country, i.e. the country that has purchased the units gets to keep the credits generated.

Social impacts are not included in the project design document template, and no explicit social safeguards are mentioned in JI requirements, leaving the agreements on safeguards that go beyond national legislation to the partnering countries.

Documentation on the analysis of the environmental impacts of the LULUCF project, including transboundary impacts, is required in the project design document. If such impacts are considered significant by the project participants or the host Party, an environmental impact assessment must be undertaken in accordance with procedures required by the host Party.

The project design document requires information on stakeholders’ comments on the project.

Projects must provide, as part of the project design document, a monitoring plan that meets specific requirements, such as the collection and archiving of all relevant data, information on environmental impacts, and quality assurance and control procedures.

Annex I countries must have in place a national registry in order to record and track Kyoto units. Having in place a national registry is also one of the eligibility criteria to participate in Track 1 JI.

A Designated Focal Point serves as the responsible agency for administering JI project activities within their respective jurisdiction. Where a host country qualifies for Track 1, it can define methodologies, approve projects, set its own verification requirements and decide on the issuance of ERUs. Track 2 countries must follow a procedure and project cycle similar to CDM. Project proponents must submit a project design document and are subject to validation by an Accredited Independent Entity, whose report is then submitted to the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee for appraisal. Emissions from the project must also be verified independently.