May 30, 2001 – Today, Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environment network with groups in 68 countries, sent a letter to newly independent US Senator Jim Jeffords, future leader of the Senate Committee on the Environment asking for his help in bringing the United States back to the world climate treaty. Senator Jeffords rejected the Republican Party’s increasing tilt away from public health, social and environmental safeguards, and has registered as an independent.

Dr Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth US: “Senator Jeffords has thrown the balance of power back towards a responsible policy toward climate change. Jeffords’ rejection of the current administration’s agenda reflects the outrage and disappointment felt by millions of people around the world who watched in horror as President Bush trashed the global climate treaty. Friends of the Earth hopes that the political shift in the Senate will send a clear message to Bush: the environment must not and cannot be sold off.”

Roda Verheyen, Friends of the Earth Europe climate campaigner: “The Kyoto Protocol must not be reduced to a bargaining chip with the US. Presidents come and go, but Kyoto Protocol commitments have taken a decade of hard science and hard politics. The EU cannot afford to let Bush rule the day on what is the most urgent environmental question of our times. European governments must agree to implement the Protocol regardless of the US position at the EU summit in Gothenburg, otherwise it is unlikely that environmentally effective agreement can be negotiated with the other Parties.”

Read the text of FoE’s letter to Senator Jim Jeffords here:

“Dear Senator Jeffords,
We congratulate you on your recent decision to take an independent course. We understand that a significant reason for your decision was your concern about recent efforts to to weaken environmental standards and increase energy supply through drilling for oil in nature reserves, as well as expanding coal and nuclear capacities. We, Friends of the Earth International, representing more than 1 million people all over the world, share your disquiet at these plans.

The US, with 4% of the world´s population produces 25% of the world´s climate-changing gases. President Bush´s energy plan would certainly increase these emissions further and thus speed up catastrophic climate change. The rest of the world therefore cannot but take an interest in the US´s energy and climate policies. We need the US to support international efforts to protect our climate, polls show that US citizens support action and the future of the planet demands it.

As you will be aware, international climate talks resume in Bonn, Germany in July. Bonn will be the last chance to agree on rules for the Kyoto Protocol, the only international agreement aimed at reducing climate-damaging emissions. As the future head of the Senate Environment Committee, we urge you to call on the Bush administration to reverse its position on the Kyoto Protocol (as announced on March 13th). The US must come to the UN climate negotiations willing to negotiate in good faith. Obstructive counter-proposals may spoil international efforts against the most urgent environmental issue of our times.

We call on you to ensure that the Senate´s Environment Committee clearly states its support for the Kyoto Protocol. The Senate Environment Committee should call on President Bush to return to the negotiations and ensure that an effective Kyoto Protocol is agreed upon in Bonn.

If you are intending to participate in the negotiations yourself, Friends of the Earth also invites you to the construction by thousands of concerned citizens from all over the world of a huge symbolic lifeboat for the climate treaty on July 21st outside the UN conference centre. Climate change is the most urgent environmental issue of our time. We hope that you will take a principled stance on this important international issue, just as you have done in national policy.

We wish you all the best in your new role and hope that you will help us preserve our climate and planet for the well being of future generations.

Yours sincerely”

Press Contacts:
Roda Verheyen, FOEE climate campaigner: + 49 179 465 2979
Howard Mollett, FOE Europe Press Officer: 02 542 01 89
Daniel Mittler, FOE Germany (BUND)
Organiser of the Friends of the Earth “LifeBoat Action” at the
next UN climate talks in Bonn: +49 30 275 86468


Last year, FOE brought thousands of people to the COP6 negotiations in The Hague to build ‘The Dike’. This year, FOE will build a huge symbolic LIFEBOAT in Bonn at COP6bis together with thousands to tell governments “Don’t Sink The Kyoto Protocol !” …