New Zealand, Canada ratify climate change Protocol

USA, Australia increasingly isolated

Press release - 10 December, 2002
It's a great day for the climate with two nations - New Zealand and Canada chosing Tuesday 10th December to be the day they ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

: New Zealand's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change overnight and Canada's ratification later today puts the global agreement on cutting greenhouse gases one step closer to reality and further isolates the USA and Australia, which have refused to ratify the international treaty they signed five years ago.

"With Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, and 97 other countries around the world now having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the USA is surrounded, outnumbered and out of step with international action on climate change," said Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace climate policy director.

"Australia, which blindly follows the USA's lead, is equally isolated with New Zealand and most of its other Asia Pacific trading partners having already ratified."

With New Zealand and Canada's ratification the agreement will become internationally binding law as soon as Russia ratifies - a move expected to come in 2003.

"Greenpeace congratulates New Zeland and Canada for their decision but cautions that implementation plans must not be too lenient on industrial polluters," said Sawyer.

"For the past five years Canada has been trying to weaken the Kyoto Protocol but it has now recognised that ratification is of benefit to industrialised nations. Australian businesses, like their US counterparts, will be cut out of the opportunities that joining the Protocol would provide."

The Kyoto Protocol will become law when a minimum of 55 countries have ratified covering at least 55% of 1990 level greenhouse emissions from industrialised countries. New Zealand and Canada's ratification brings the total to 99 countries, covering 40.9% of greenhouse emissions. *

"The Kyoto Protocol is only the first step. We have to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions immediately, and implement even deeper cuts as rapidly as possible if we are to prevent dangerous climate change," said Sawyer.