One year Kyoto Climate Treaty - No Happy Birthday

14 February 2006

Friends of the Earth say governments only pay lip-service as climate change unfolds

Brussels, 14 February 2006 - Governments in Europe are failing to live up to the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol, one year after this global treaty came into force to cut greenhouse gas emissions. [1]

Friends of the Earth charged that rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Europe and globally are leading to more tragic disasters like the hurricanes that hit the United States last year. [2] Hurricane Katrina alone cost, beyond the loss of many lives, $125 billion.

Jan Kowalzig, Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe in Brussels, said: "It's appalling how our political leaders are failing to put the European economy on a low CO2 emissions path." [3]
"The European Commission is paying lip-service to protecting the climate but puts neo-liberal economic policies and the interests of dirty industry above human well-being and environmental protection. The 16 th of February 2006 is no happy birthday for the Kyoto climate treaty," he added.

At the EU Spring Summit end of next March, EU Heads of States are expected to agree on a "New Energy Policy" for Europe.

Jan Kowalzig: "Cutting energy waste through investing in efficient technologies should be the central pillar of the EU's New Energy Policy. This would not only help protecting the Earth's climate but also create jobs."
"The EU should scrap all subsidies to nuclear and fossil fuel energy sectors and instead introduce new measures to promote renewable energies. Also, the EU must reverse dramatic emission growth in the transport sector through binding legislation to cut down fuel consumption of cars. This would also reduce dependence on foreign oil imports" he concluded." [4]

The first anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol coincides with governments' plans to negotiate further emission reductions beyond 2012, when the current provisions of the Kyoto Protocol end. Friends of the Earth welcomes the EU's official objective to keep the global average temperature increase below 2�C, above which impacts are expected to become catastrophic. But Friends of the Earth reminds governments that meeting this target requires more drastic emission cuts than those of the Kyoto Protocol. [5]

Citizens across Europe are invited to send Kyoto Birthday e-Cards to their governments, demanding urgent action to protect our climate. The Friends of the Earth Europe cyber action can be accessed at
http://www.foeeurope.org/happy-birthday-kyoto

 

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Notes

[1] The Kyoto Protocol was agreed upon in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. This "action plan" to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force the 16 th February 2005. The Protocol sets legally binding limits on the greenhouse gas emissions for 39 industrialised countries that pledged to cut their annual average greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 to 2012 to about 5% below 1990 levels. In1997, the EU with its then 15 Member States accepted an overall reduction target of minus 8%. The text of the Kyoto Protocol is available at http://www.unfccc.int

[2] Expected impacts include a sea level rise up to 6-7m, melting permafrost in the arctic regions, large-scale agricultural losses, increased water scarcity, a collapse of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and an increase of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts or devastating storms. World-wide, the World Health Organisation counts 150,000 deaths every year as a result of climate change. A collection of 2005 climate disasters can be found at http://www.foeeurope.org/climate/extremes.htm

[3] The EU Commission reported that in 2003 emissions of the EU-15 were 1.7% below 1990 levels. They should have been at minus 5.2% in following a linear reduction path for meeting the Kyoto Protocol's obligations of minus 8%. The European Commission claims that the EU will achieve a reduction of -9.3% by 2010, but if emission levels continue to develop as they did over the last three years, the EU-15 emissions in 2010 will be +2.8% above of what they were in 1990. New emission data is expected for May/June 2006. See also "Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2005", European Environmental Agency, December 2005, available at http://reports.eea.eu.int/eea_report_2005_8/en

[4] A brief fact sheet on the Kyoto Protocol's first anniversary and what the EU needs to do next is available in English and Italian. For a more detailed analysis see also "How the European Union responds to the threat of global climate change"; November 2005..

[5] Recent scientific reports suggest that in order to achieve the maximum 2�C temperature rise target with reasonable certainty, concentration levels must peak below 500 ppm and then return below 400ppm, which would require global CO2 cuts of 50% by 2050. Industrialised countries would have to cut their CO2 emissions by 80%. In contrast, a concentration of 550ppm, a figure that has been used as a rule-of-thumb in the past, has a 68% to 99% chance of exceeding the 2�C threshold. See: Malte Meinshausen, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich: "On the Risk to Overshoot 2 �C"; http://www.up.umnw.ethz.ch/~mmalte/simcap/data.html

 

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