Kyoto protocol stronger after Montreal meeting

World at last taking threat seriously, despite Bush

Feature story - December 10, 2005
"How often does one walk into one of these things and come out at the end of it at 6 in the morning with just about everything you asked for coming in? Not very often." That was Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Sawyer's reaction at the end of the Climate summit in Montreal.

Global warming: greather threat than terrorism

"The Kyoto Protocol is stronger today than it was two weeks ago. Thishistoric first Meeting of the Parties has acknowledged the urgency ofthe threat that climate change poses to the world's poorest people, andeventually, to all of us. The decisions made here have cleared the wayfor long term action," said Bill Hare, Greenpeace International ClimatePolicy Advisor in Montreal.

The meeting agreed the following:

--To start urgent negotiations on a new round of emission reductiontargets for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol(2013-2017). A special group has been established to ensure that thesenegotiations are concluded "as soon as possible". This is necessary toensure the continuity of carbon markets, and to allow governments toput policies and measures in place to ensure that the new, deeperemission reduction targets are met

--To start now to review and improve the Kyoto Protocol. Mandated underthe existing treaty, this review will formally begin at next year'smeeting.

--A Five Year Plan of Action on Adaptation, to assist least developedcountries to cope with the impacts of climate change. This programmewill begin to address the fact that climate change already impacts theworld's poorest, and that it will get much worse in the coming decades.It is the ethical, political, and legal responsibility of theindustrialised countries to provide for this.

As expected, the Bush administration attempted to derail the process,at one point even walking out of the negotiations, but the rest of theworld showed a resolve to move ahead regardless. For once, the Bushadministration was forced back to the table and into agreement with theinternational community. No doubt the overwhelming presence of U.S.civil society at these talks has had a positive effect.

The US has continued to attempt to lure countries away from the UNmultilateral climate regime with its international emission trading toan ineffective approach based on voluntary actions and 'partnerships'.Today, however, governments have agreed to hold substantive talksbeginning in May 2006 on the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period,sending an unmistakable signal that we are on the road to new and moreambitious targets.

According to Sawyer, "What will be remembered is that this was themoment when the future of the Kyoto Protocol and legally bindingemissions reductions and the cap and trade system wassecured...Australia and the US are isolated as never before, and theoverwhelming presence of US state governments, cities, trade unions,businesses, churches, youth and many other parts of civil society gavethe rest of the world confidence that Americans do care about climatechange, and that the Bush administration's intransigence will soonerrather than later be remembered as an unfortunate historical footnote."

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