March 4, 2002 – Friends of the Earth welcomed the decision by EU Environment Ministers to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, announced at the meeting of EU Environment Ministers in Brussels today.

But the group warned that diplomatic efforts to ensure full ratification must not subside if the Protocol is to come into force, as agreed, before the Earth Summit in Johannesburg this August. And countries must speed up negotiations over future emissions targets if they are serious about tackling dangerous climate change.

European Environment Ministers today took the necessary legal steps to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, following the agreement by heads of government in Gothenburg last year. Japan, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe countries must also ratify before the end of May for the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force in time for the Earth Summit [1].

The EU has played a central role in safeguarding the Kyoto Protocol since the rejection of the treaty by President George W. Bush last March, pushing for agreement at last year’s pivotal UN climate talks in Marrakech and Bonn.

Tony Juniper, Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “We are relieved that EU governments have finally fulfilled their modest promise and ratified the Kyoto climate treaty. But they must keep up the pressure on Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe to make sure it becomes international law.

“The EU must also move ahead with the major shifts in policy needed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. And it must step up its criticism of the US and Australia. By refusing to ratify the Protocol, these countries are putting the world at serious risk. The Protocol is only the beginning. All countries must now agree to a second round of emissions reductions if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.”

[1] The treaty’s rules stipulate that 55 countries and countries representing 55 per cent of industrialised countries’ emissions must ratify the Protocol in order for it to become international law. This must happen 90 days before the Earth Summit if the target for ratification is to be met.

Tony Juniper Mobile: 07712 843 207
Kate Hampton 020 7566 1723 Mobile: 0774 896 7323