BONN (GERMANY), May 13, 2005 — A major United Nations seminar on climate change has been heavily criticised today by Friends of the Earth International for failing to discuss the critical issue of how climate change should be tackled.

Instead, the conference, which is being held in Bonn, Germany on 16-17 May 2005, will be packed with sixty presentations on climate protection policies.

Friends of the Earth International’s climate campaigner Catherine Pearce said: “Climate change is the biggest threat the planet faces. So why are the urgent actions needed to tackle the problem being ignored by this UN conference. The alarm bells are ringing, but the world is dithering. Unless we act soon it will be too late.”

Agreed at the latest UN climate conference in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in December 2004, the seminar has no mandate to open up negotiations on future commitments beyond 2012 (when the first commitment period ends).

This conference, or ‘seminar’, does not either have the mandate to make recommendations to the first Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal later this year. [2]

However this is an unprecedented opportunity for governments to discuss action outside of the formal negotiations – domestic measures to reduce emissions and strategies to cope with the impacts already being felt around the world. Friends of the Earth believes the seminar must go beyond talking about efforts to meet current targets of the Kyoto Protocol, which are inadequate to meet the growing climate challenge. The seminar must lay the foundations for a formal process for post 2012 negotiations to be launched in Montreal.

Future commitments must ensure average global temperatures do not rise above two degrees above pre-industrial levels if we are to avoid catastrophic impacts. [3]

“This seminar should be the place where industrialised countries show that they are serious about climate change and ready to address their historic and ongoing role in causing the problem. Rich nations must demonstrate the greatest efforts in reducing their own emissions, and enable developing countries to choose climate-friendly technologies to foster sustainable development, for example through opening new international funding streams to drive the transformation of our global economy. The huge economic benefits of such “low-carbon” policies should be showcased here,“ Catherine Pearce added.

Friends of the Earth also notes with concern that the poorest and most vulnerable countries to climate change have lost out in recent climate negotiations, with little commitments from the richest countries to support adaptation to climate change and support climate-friendly development in poor countries.  These countries desperately need adequate funds, improved international development programmes which incorporate climate change into their design and support for refugees forced from their home. An international seminar like this which gathers experts from around the world should be addressing these issues.

Friends of the Earth Germany, BUND will be organising a climate demonstration outside the seminar at the entrance to the Maritim Hotel in Bonn on Monday 16 May from 09.00-12.00. The German Minister for the Environment, Jürgen Trittin will be visiting the demonstration between 11:40 and 12:00.


Catherine Pearce (Friends of the Earth International): +44 7811 283 641

Markus Steigenberger (BUND/ Friends of the Earth Germany): + 49 173-9234747


[1] The “Seminar of Governmental Experts” will take place 16-17 May 2005 in Bonn in Germany, prior to the regular formal sessions of the technical bodies UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

[2] Negotiations on future commitments are due to begin at the next climate talks in Montreal in November. These negotiations aim to agree action on climate change for the period after 2012, when current provisions of the Kyoto Protocol end.

Past emissions of greenhouse gases, largely from industrialised countries, mean that the world cannot avoid an increase of average global temperature to 1.3°C above pre-industrial levels. According to the Third Assessment Report IPCC of 2001, the globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100. We have already seen increases of 0.6°C.

[3] 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.