As anyone involved in any international negotiating process will
tell you, it wasn't easy.
Vested interests like the fossil fuel industry and heavy energy
users interfered and obstructed at every turn. Oil producing
nations such as Saudi Arabia kept up a constant whine for
compensation for loss of oil revenue and politicians of all
persuasions ducked and dived and tried to avoid any decisions they
thought would make them unpopular at home.
Add to that the interminable 'diplo-speak' that participants
tend to favour and the propensity to spend hours discussing whether
to replace the word 'should' with 'may.' You begin to get a picture
of how slow-moving and cumbersome these talks can sometimes be and
what an achievement the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol
Then of course there was the biggest obstacle of all to an
agreement - the United States. The Bush administration withdrew
from the Kyoto Protocol in early 2001 but it didn't wash its hands
of the negotiations. With the active support (some would say under
the instruction) of the American fossil fuel industry and its
well-funded front groups, the US government worked tirelessly to
derail the treaty.
It is a testament to the commitment and tenacity of the many
countries that acted in good faith and steered the agreement
through these stormy seas, that we now have a legal framework for
protecting the climate.
But Kyoto itself, if implemented to the letter, will only have a
minimal effect on the changing climate so where do we go from
'Dangerous climate change' is already with us and the greenhouse
gases we have pumped into the atmosphere since industrialization in
the late 19th century mean a rise of 1.2C to 1.3C (2.2F - 4.1F)
above pre-industrial levels is now unavoidable.
But scientists are warning that warming could increase by up to
Avoiding catastrophic climate change means keeping temperature
increase to below 2C. There will still be significant impacts on
ecosystems and many millions of people will be threatened with
increased risk of hunger, malaria and flooding and billions with
increased risk of water shortage. While this is certainly dangerous
to the millions of people who will be affected, it is probably the
best we can do.
But time is not on our side. We are within a decade or two of
closing off our options. Dragging our feet now will force us into a
choice between climate catastrophe and economic catastrophe in the
next couple of decades.
Kyoto now needs to develop and expand rapidly, extending the
international emissions trading system and providing more help for
developing countries to leapfrog dirty technology.
There is clearly much to be done and little time to do it. The
choice is clear - there is none.
activists flew a hot-air balloon over Kyoto with the message
"Kyoto: The new dawn for the climate."
launching Greenpeace's 'Solar Generation' project spelled 'Go
Solar' in candlelight under the ancient Sanjo Bridge crossing the
Kamo river in Kyoto.
Members of 'Solar Generation,' participate in a parade through
Kyoto to celebrate the Protocol that bears the city's name coming
|Pulupandan, Negros, Philippines
than 200 schoolchildren take part in a human mosaic on the Rice
fields of Pulupundan, forming the message: "Kyoto Protocol: new
dawn for the climate." The human mosaic is a tribute from
Greenpeace to the community of Pulupundan, who have successfully
rejected a coal power plant project planned for the site. There are
now plans to build a wind farm that will become source for clean
renewable energy for the island.
|Marsden Point, New Zealand
activists have scaled the proposed coal-fired Marsden B power
station just south of Whangarei (and they're still there!). After
scaling the 50m high structure, the four activists dropped a giant
yellow banner reading "SAVE THE CLIMATE, STOP COAL" and featuring
the image of a burning Earth. The activists are logging live updates to an action
Greenpeace activist dressed in a polar bear suit holds up a sign
advocating the Kyoto protocol near an entrance to the Forbidden
Greenpeace activists stand next to ice sculptures placed outside
Sydney's parliament to protest at Australia's increasing greenhouse
emissions. Australia has the third highest greenhouse pollution per
capita due largely to burning coal and oil in power plants,
factories and cars.
|Moscow, Russian Federation
Russia released thermal images of the Russian Parliament and other
government and residential buildings leaking heat.
|Tel Aviv, Israel
the eve of Kyoto coming into force, Greenpeace activists protest
against the use of fossil fuel by blocking the entrance to the
Israeli Electric Company headquarters in Tel Aviv.
asks politicians to reform Delcredere, Belgium's leading overseas
export credit insurer, in order to stop immediately Belgian
credit-insurance supporting energy production using coal, oil or
the midnight hour in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Greenpeace celebrates
the entry into force of the Kyoto protocol with music, banners and
youth (JAGs) construct a platform for planet Earth on stones
showing the flags of the countries participating in the Kyoto
|Prague, Czech Republic
Czech Republic marks Kyoto coming into force with a large banner
reading "Kyoto for the Earth" in the front of famous National
Museum in the centre of Prague. The museum is a place marking
historic and symbolic events in recent Czech history.
WWF, Legambiente and other NGOs celebrate the entry into force of
the Kyoto protocol in front of the Galleria Colonna. Pictured left:
Mr. Ferrante - (Legambiente); pictured centered: Donatella Massai
(Executive Director Greenpeace Italy); pictured right: Mr. Pratesi
(President of WWF Italia).
activists placed miniatures of all 27 coal and oil power stations
in front of the Ministry of Environment, protesting against the
current energy policy of the Greek government. The government is
refusing to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gases
|Sao Paulo, Brazil
Brazil joined social and environmental movements, trade unions and
CAN (climate Action Network) members in Latin America to celebrate
the entry into force of the Kyoto protocol in front of American
Consulate. With a lifebuoy symbolising the planet's weather
instability Greenpeace, Vitae Civilis (CAN Brazil), CUT (largest
Brazilian Trade Union) and MST (landless movement) points out that
the world cannot be held hostage by the USA. Greenpeace volunteers
later delivered a letter to the American Consulate addressed to
president George W. Bush, demanding his signature to the Kyoto
protested at the international Auto Show, "100 years of Automobile
Progress" demanding sharp reductions in CO2 fuel emissions.
hotheaded snowman stands guard outside an information booth where
activists gathered signatures and distributed information about
activists in India celebrated the Kyoto Protocol becoming law with
music, banners, and a giant inflatable Earth.
group marked the day with sunflowers.
|Mexico City, Mexico
Bush's "Flaming Earth" vies with the windmills of protestors in
this street theatre in Mexico City.
Limited (Greenpeace UK) volunteers halted trading on the global oil
market by occupying the International Petroleum Exchange in London.
Thirty-five activists entered the high security building near Tower
Bridge shortly before 2pm, just as the world market in Brent crude
was about to switch to London.
attached distress alarms to helium balloons, blew foghorns and
handcuffed themselves to the trading pit. On the outside of the
building climbers unfurled a banner saying: "CLIMATE CHANGE KILLS -
STOP PUSHING OIL"
You can join in the action! Send an online fax to Tony Blair today and tell
him to take immediate action against climate change and use this
year's meeting of G8 world leaders to move the world on a different
More info from Greenpeace UK's website.
can discuss this action at the Greenpeace Cybercenter.
activists took to Parliament Hill in polar bear costumes with
banners calling on the Martin government to take immediate action
against climate change.