An historic moment for the climate

Press release - 4 March, 2002

Effects of climate change in Alaska are apparent

Greenpeace today welcomed the long awaited, binding decision of the EU Environment Ministers to move ahead with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Ten years after the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and more than four years after the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the EU Environment Ministers have decided to officially ratify the Protocol.

"The EU decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is an historic moment, and we now look forward to the other ratifications necessary to bring the Protocol into force by the time of the next Earth Summit in Johannesburg, in August," said Michel Raquet, Greenpeace climate advisor. This act sends a clear and definitive signal to all countries around the world that the EU is serious about Kyoto, and serious about protecting the climate.

The Johannesburg Earth Summit begins on August 26, less than six months from now, and has for years been the target date for the ratification and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. There is now less than three months left to act if the Protocol is to be brought into force prior to the Summit, as the entry into force only takes place 90 days after the submission of the final ratification which puts it 'over the top'. The Kyoto Protocol requires that at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of industrialised country emissions ratify in order for it to enter into force. Ratification by Russia and Japan are key for the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol; but Greenpeace will also continue to push the United States, accounting for 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, to come back into the Protocol.

"After President Bush slammed the door on the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001, and the very bad joke of the launch of the Bush-Exxon climate plan last month, it is now time for the USA to come back to the Kyoto Protocol framework," said Raquet.

This decision by the EU is not the end of the ratification game, even within the EU, since it is necessary for both the EU and all of its 15 Member States to ratify .

Greenpeace will be pushing the 11 EU Member States which are not yet ready to ratify to do so by the end of May, at the latest, said Raquet. "We should all remember that the Kyoto targets is a very small but crucial first step towards protecting the Earth's climate. Industrialised countries must actually reduce their emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 if Ministers really want to be serious about protecting the life of our children and grand-children. There is no time to waste," said Raquet.