PARIS (FRANCE) / BRUSSELS (BEGIUM) – Rich countries are failing to meet their responsibilities for the global environmental problems, OECD Environment Ministers will be told when they meet with the heads of environmental groups in Paris today Monday 19th April.
And in a joint statement, international green groups  call on members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) not to negotiate with the current United States administration on alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol.
OECD member countries already face criticism from the OECD itself for failing to meet the targets set in the OECD’s Environmental Strategy. The OECD’s head of environment, Lorents Lorentsen urged member countries to opt for more ambitious policies in a review of progress issued earlier this month .
In their statement, the environment groups call on OECD countries to show world leadership by taking prompt action to tackle climate change and to affirm their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Rich nations are responsible for the largest proportion of global warming gas emissions, but it is the poorer nations who will suffer the consequences, the statement points out.
Joint signatories, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF, ANPED, Climate Action Network and the European Environment Bureau specifically urge OECD countries to:
- Affirm or reaffirm their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, and not negotiate with the current United States administration on alternatives;
- Recognise the environmental need for absolute reductions in resource use;
- Define the top 20 resources most threatened by unsustainable use, and develop quantitative targets to achieve sustainability;
- Insist that shifting resource use to other countries is not a sustainable way of dealing with environmental pressures on resources at home;
- Integrate environmental and related social justice considerations into all government policies and activities related to external affairs, trade and investment;
- Reduce environmental impacts to sustainable levels, while providing a decent quality of life for all people in the world;
- Strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme to improve the capacity for co-ordinating and implementing environmental agreementsand principles;
- Reject the use of the WTO by OECD countries, particularly the US , as a threat to “chill” the development of environmental legislation and policies.
Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair, Tony Juniper said:
“The rich nations have grudgingly accepted the particular role they must play in tackling the pressing environmental problems now facing our planet. But considering the wealth and power of these countries, their performance is truly lamentable. These country leaders need to start taking their own environmental speeches seriously and to show some real political commitment. Tony Blair and George Bush are prepared to risk their political careers on a controversial war, but do not stick their necks out to conserve resources or limit pollution. A first basic step would be entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol – and George Bush could announce his intention to make that happen today.”
John Hontelez, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau said:
Decoupling economic growth from environmental pressure has become part of the vocabulary of the OECD’s political leaders. But we need to go from words to action: all rich countries must embark on a consistent policy composed of legislation and financial instruments to achieve drastic reductions of resource use of our societies. The OECD should lead by setting clear reduction targets for the short and medium term, such as Factor 4 and Factor 10″.
Friends of the Earth Press Office, London : +44-20-7566 1649
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
 The Contribution of Environmental Citizens Organisations to the first assessment of the implementation of the Organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD) Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century is available from the press office at Friends of the Earth. +44-20-7566 1649