Kyoto is the key - now use it!

Press release - 11 November, 2001

Greenpeace worker holds the teather of the Balloon

At the close of COP7, the latest negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement aimed at preventing dangerous climate change, Greenpeace today described the outcome as a hard won battle for a token outcome.

"Governments may be congratulating themselves now, but what have they really achieved? As climate change bites harder, leaders of the future will look back on the Marrakech meeting as a lost opportunity and realise that the participants of COP7 should have done more to tackle climate change," said Bill Hare, Greenpeace climate policy director.

"But the Kyoto Protocol is just a small start in what must be an ongoing and ever increasing commitment to reduce greenhouse gases globally. Now that the architecture of the Protocol is in place, parties have no excuse to delay ratifying and implementing it.

"The Kyoto Protocol is the key to preventing dangerous climate change. The door has only just been unlocked. Now we have to fling it wide open."

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was initially designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries by 5%. By the end of the Bonn negotiations last July, the effectiveness of the Protocol had already been substantially weakened. Emission reductions in the order of 80% are needed if dangerous climate change is to be prevented.

"We still have a long, long way to go. This is just the beginning," said Hare.

After two weeks of negotiations, the fine details of the implementation of the Protocol have been ironed out - but there are still many problems. These include: Russia has been allowed about a 100% increase on its already generous forest management sinks allowance, from 17 Megatonnes to 33 Megatonnes of carbon per year. A lost opportunity to contribute concrete recommendations on how to tackle climate change at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio +10) in Johannesberg in September 2002 by, for example, calling for a major program of renewable energy to bring electricity to the 2 billion people of the world who currently do not have access to electricity.

Failure to concretely stop the banking of forest and other land use sink credits, which will lead to higher fossil fuel emissions in the future. Failure to ensure that the eligibility to take part in the trading system is tied to properly reporting on forest activities used for sink credits.

However there have been some minor environmental victories during the past two weeks of negotiations. These include:

- New provisions for public participation in the Clean Development Mechanism that will help the public monitor and have input into proposed CDM projects.

- Enforceable rules that ensure that countries must adhere to a set of rules on reporting, monitoring and verification of emissions before being able to use the Kyoto mechanisms: emissions trading, Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism.

- Ensuring that it is possible to geographically locate and verify areas of land claimed for sink credits.

- Quality control standards for reporting on sink credits.