November 5, 2001 – Tomorrow (Tuesday) European environment ministers meet at the climate talks in Marrakech for urgent discussions – as the strength of the Bonn accord risks being seriously undermined by the current negotiations.

Ministers are due to meet formally on Wednesday for “high level” negotiations on progress with the Bonn accord. But proposals from the Japanese, Australian, Canadan and Russian delegations threaten to weaken the agreement that governments signed up to in Bonn. The Bonn agreement stated there would be legally binding consequences for non-compliance with the targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. (Under the Protocol, adopting legally-binding consequences requires an amendment to the treaty, once it has entered into force). The Bonn deal set out what this amendment would include. But now Japan, Australia, Canada and Russia say the nature of the compliance regime should not be pre-judged. The Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson stated this weekend that the treaty does not need legally binding consequences – clearly undermining the desire for a robust enforcement regime, demonstrated in Bonn.

Despite Japanese objections on compliance, it was reported this weekend that the Japanese Government may soon announce its intention to go ahead and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, providing clear evidence that this is not a ratification issue [1].

Russia is objecting to calls for transparency under the compliance system, again putting pressure on delegations, including the EU, to weaken the requirements. Russia says it is a ratification issue – although Putin said Russia would ratify the Protocol following the Bonn accord. Russia must ratify for the Protocol to come into force. EU Ministers, bound by the Aarhus Convention [2], which entered into force last week, should be pushing for greater transparency on environmental issues.

There have also been calls to allow countries to bank unused “sinks” credits from the first commitment period for later use. Encouraging the use of sinks (land use and forestry projects) – included in the Bonn deal for political reasons – could cause environmental and social problems [3]. Carrying forward sink credits will create problems for countries joining at a later stage. The US is likely to demand a level playing field if they join at the next commitment stage.

Friends of the Earth International Climate Campaigner Kate Hampton said: “EU ministers must be clear that the text on the table now is not what they intended in Bonn. The agreement has been watered down enough already. Without a strong enforcement system, the Kyoto Protocol will not be worth the paper it is written on.”

Friends of the Earth International experts will be in Marrakech throughout COP7.

Kate Hampton (FOEI International Climate Coordinator in Marrakech 26th October -11th November) +44 774 896 7323
Helen Burley (press officer) + 44 7778 356888

[1] Yomiuri Shimbun (4/11/01)
[2] The Aarhus Convention no Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, ratified by the EU and 17 non-EU countries, 30 October 2001.