Bonn, July 21, 2001 – Today Friends of the Earth International [1] launches a massive mobilization effort towards this years largest mass action on climate change! Thousands of people from all over the world are expected to participate in the mega-BOAT ACTION, July 21st at the UN Kyoto Protocol negotiations in Bonn.

Participants will physically construct the Boat in the town centre and drag it to the UN conference. The Boat will be decorated with banners, flags and slogans from groups and individuals around the world: an unavoidable message from the outside world to politicians on the inside of the negotiations. Supporters of the Boat action have already booked buses in countries as far apart as England and Estonia.

Daniel Mittler, Climate Action organiser, Friends of the Earth Germany (B.U.N.D.): “The Boat is a simple symbol. The disastrous consequences of man-made global warming are the result of our own hubris, unrelenting pollution without thought of the consequences. The Boat will serve as a symbol of rescue and hope, it is only through collective action and human innovation that we may cope with the catastrophic impacts of accelerated climate change.”

Over 150,000 people participated in last month’s FLOOD BUSH! e-protest campaign, initiated by Friends of the Earth, targeting the White House for the US attempt to wreck the climate treaty. The BOAT actions message is simple: Don’t Sink The Kyoto Protocol!

Last Novembers climate talks in The Hague saw Friends of the Earth bring over 5000 members of the public for the construction of a sand-bag dike around the UN conference hall. People came from over 45 countries, from Norway to Nigeria, and from Chile to the Czech Republic to build the dike. Klaus Toepfer, the Head of UNEP, and Jan Pronk, the Chair of the UN climate talks also participated. Sandbags from the dike decorated the podium in the plenary sessions and became a symbol of hope for the conference.

Ricardo Navarro, Chair of Friends of the Earth International adds: “People all over the world are outraged at the scandalous attempts of fossil-friendly governments, in particular the US, Canada and Australia, to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol. Friends of the Earthís Boat will be built with the determination and sincerity that we expect from the politicians inside the UN climate conference. Political lip-servicing and a weakening or abandonment of the treaty from any of the Parties will not be acceptable. The climate will not wait.”

Friends of the Earth believes that the Kyoto Protocol rules to be negotiated in Bonn must ensure:

  • fossil fuel emissions targets agreed at Kyoto are maintained;
  • investment is accelerated in renewable energy and energy efficiency not nuclear power, so-called “carbon sinks”, large hydroelectricity or coal projects;
  • industrialised countries make most CO2 emission reductions at home;
  • funding made available to vulnerable countries for climate disaster preparedness and management;
  • the inequitable use of the world’s resources is recognised: developing countries have a right to develop sustainably and industrialised countries must encourage more greener energy consumption.

More information:
Kate Hampton, Climate Change expert: +44 207 490 1555
Mark Helm, Friends of the Earth US, Washington press contact: + 1 202 270 3650
Howard Mollett, Press Officer, FOE Europe: +32 2 542 01 89 / 32 4786 03374
Daniel Mittler, Action Organiser in Germany: +49 30 275 86468

Climate Press Packs available containing
: “What next !” A guide to citizens’ climate activism,
Pictures from last year’s mass DIKE action + sandbags in the UN climate talks in The Hague,
Politics of Climate briefing
Dike Pictures + Interviews with dike-builders/climate campaigners/local Friends of the Earth activists available in over 60 countries worldwide!

[1] Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest federation of environmental groups, uniting close to one million activists worldwide. FoEI’s member organizations in 68 countries and 13 affiliate groups campaign on the most urgent environmental and social issues of our day.

Political background
4th March,
G8 Environmental Ministers Communique: “We commit ourselves … to strive to reach an agreement on outstanding political issues and to ensure in a cost-effective manner the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol” (signed by the head of the US Environment Protect Agency: Christine Whitman)

6th March,
Christine Whitman in a memo to Bush: “The Kyoto Protocol is the only game in town in their eyes (EU and others). There is a real fear in the international community that if the US is not willing to discuss the issue within the framework of Kyoto the whole thing will fall apart. They feel that they can move ahead toward their goals on their own, but would need the U.S. to really get things done. … I would strongly recommend that you continue to recognize that global warming is a real, and serious issue.”

13 March,
Bush Letter to conservative republicans: “I oppose the Kyoto Protocol”

22 March,
Condoleeza Rice (National Security Adviser) tells EU Ambassadors: “The Kyoto Protocol process is dead”.

25 March
EU Council Conclusions Stockholm: “The EU reaffirms its strong commitment to the Kyoto Protocol as the basis for such action and expresses its deep concern at the fact that this Protocol is being called into question.”

28 March
White House announces that the administration has “no interest” in implementing or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Reactions from EU and others generally condemning the course of action. “dismayed and deeply disappointed” (Japan, NZ, EU) “appalled” (Sweden). Australia and Canada criticise the US but also claim that “the Kyoto Protocol is unjust because it only puts obligations on us” (Prime Minister of Canada). The EU is still calling on both Canada and Australia to openly declare their support for the Protocol.

9 April
New President-compromise paper released. It offers Parties “free gifts” in form of further widening of the loopholes and get-out clauses in the ëFlexible Mechanismsí annex to the Treaty. Most Parties are not happy with it, particularly Japan and the EU stand to loss more and gain less on almost all issues.

20-21 April
Commission on Sustainable Development, High Level Meeting held in New York to discuss the resumed COP6. There is a very clear message from the US that they i) will not ratify the Protocol ii) will attend the July meeting. There is no indication on whether they will forward a “new proposal” to completely undermine the years of negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol or what other form of participation they envisage.

Next steps:
Bush reveals new National Energy Plan today
Jan Pronk, Chair of the UN talks, is discussing a meeting in June to discuss Treaty again with the US and other Parties.
The US president will attend the EU summit in G–teborg on the 15-16th June, it is believed that he will forward the US proposal for an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.
The UN Conference of the Parties (COP6) resumes its meeting on 16th July in Bonn, Germany.

Ian Willmore
Media Co-ordinator
Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood Street
London N1 7JQ
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Work: 0207 566 1657
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