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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2005 / 0214

0214

media advisory
friends of the earth international

climate change treaty goes live but battle on emissions has only just begun

KYOTO (JAPAN) / BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), 14 February 2005 - Friends of the Earth International warned today that the United Nations Kyoto agreement on climate change that will enter into force on February 16 is only a first modest step towards more drastic greenhouse gas emission cuts needed to address climate change. [1]

The day when the Kyoto treaty goes live is a day to celebrate, but Friends of the Earth also expressed deep disappointment that on February 9 the European Union backed away from its leadership role by refusing to earmark targets for future gas emission cuts after the first commitment period of Kyoto ends in 2012. [2]

Governments and environmental groups around the globe are set to mark the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol with speeches, exhibitions, parties and parades [3].

Past emissions of greenhouse gases, largely from industrialised countries, mean that the world cannot avoid an increase of average global temperature to 1.3^(o)C above pre-industrial levels. If the average temperature rises beyond 2^(o)C, the impacts of climate change, which we are already suffering will become catastrophic. [4]

The evidence that climate change is proceeding apace is piling up and weather extremes across the planet are increasing, both in frequency and intensity. A recent high-level international taskforce "Meeting the Climate Challenge" has revealed that global emissions have to peak by as early as 2015 in order to avoid uncontrollable climate change.

Catherine Pearce of Friends of the Earth International said "Whilst Kyoto is an important first step, we really need to see some teeth to future international efforts. The world around us is already changing, in dramatic and life threatening ways, It is time for rich countries to act now, before it becomes too late. The US, as the world's biggest polluter must of course play its part."

"In particular the European Union must continue to take the lead on future action and should not wait and see what others will do. With concerted action, industrialised countries, led by the European Union, can be delivering cuts in emissions and set us on the path to 80% reductions by 2050 -- to the benefit of our economies and the well-being of our citizens," she added.

Official negotiations in November this year will begin to discuss commitments post 2012 when the first Kyoto commitment period is due to end. One key question will be how to tackle fast growing emissions from emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil and introduce policies that decouple economic growth from emissions.

Friends of the Earth believes that Western countries which have enjoyed economic growth through the burning of fossil fuels (and have therefore contributed most to climate change), must help finance low carbon development in the south, and phase out public financing of fossil fuels and into cleaner energies.

more information

europe
Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International (in London) +44 (0)7811 283 641 or direct line: +44 (0)20 7566 1723 or email
Jan Kowalzig, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe (in Brussels) +32-2-5426102 or email
Markus Steigenberger, Friends of the Earth Germany (in Berlin) Tel: +49 30 27586 468 or email

japan
Yuri Onodera, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Japan +81- 3951-1081 or email

americas
Roque Pedace in Argentina: + 54-1146290386 or email

notes
[1] 141 countries have to date ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Background information on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
[2] The new proposed strategy recommends to EU leaders not to agree on emission cuts after 2012 until the level of participation from other countries becomes clear. The document calls on increased participation by Europe's international partners, but fails to deliver a real plan how this could be realised, in particular regarding the United States.
[3] On 16 February, the European Union's executive Commission is inviting the 141 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol to a Cocktail Party to celebrate. Climate Outlaws United States and Australia are not invited. For more details on international events marking Kyoto's entry into force: unfccc and climatenetwork
[4] Two degrees centigrade global average warming would threaten many tens of millions of people with increased risk of hunger, hundreds of millions with increased malaria risk, millions with increased flooding and billions with increased risk of water shortage.(Ref: Hare, B (2003) "Assessment of Knowledge on Impacts of Climate Change - Contribution to the Specification of Art. 2 of the UNFCCC: Impacts on Ecosystems, Food Production, Water and Socioeconomic System" online and M Parry, N Arnell, T McMichael, R Nicholls, P Martens, S Kovats, M Livermore, C Rosenzweig,A).

Scientific knowledge is increasing constantly and improving our understanding of the likely changes that will come from rising global temperatures and the assessment keeps getting worse. Some of the most important new reports and findings of the last twelve months include:

  • A multi-year international study published in Nature (Thomas, et. al, "Extinction risk from climate change", NATURE (VOL 427) 8 JANUARY 2004 pp. 146 - 148) predicts that mid-range climate change scenarios will doom a million species to extinction by mid-century;
  • The Arctic Climate Impacts Assessment , commissioned by the Arctic Council, confirmed that the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the globe. At least half of the summer sea ice will disappear by the end of this century, along with significant melting of the Greenland ice sheet, with devastating consequences for seals, bears, local communities, and with global consequences including (but not limited to) sea level rise;
  • A study of the European heat wave in the summer of 2003, published in December 2004 (Ref: Stott, et. al., "Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003", NATURE (VOL 432) 2 DECEMBER 2004 pp. 610-614), concluded that there was a clear global warming fingerprint on the killer heat wave, and that by mid-century, such a summer would be cooler than average.

Further reports on climate impacts
IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) Climate Change 2001 read report
International Symposium on the Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gases, 1-3 Feb, Hadley Centre, Steering Committee Report read report
Impacts of Europe's changing climate, 2004 read report
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, November 2004 read report

 

 

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