The European Commission joins 140 nations in celebrating the entry into force today of the Kyoto Protocol, which gives the international community its most powerful instrument yet to combat global climate change. Industrialised countries that have ratified the Protocol are legally obliged to meet their targets for limiting or reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. The EU has already made this binding for Member States under EU law.
Since it was agreed in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 140 countries plus the European Community, thus covering 80% of the world’s population. Its entry into force comes 90 days after Russia handed its ratification to the United Nations on 18 November. In addition to the emission reduction targets, the entry into force of Kyoto will also mark the beginning of a global carbon market, with links to the EU emission trading scheme that began on 1 January. This is expected to stimulate investment in emissions-saving projects around the world which industrialised countries can use to help meet their targets. These instruments provide cost-effective ways to meet targets by using flexible mechanisms provided for under the Protocol.
In a video statement transmitted to a special event in Kyoto organised by the government of Japan, Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: “It is imperative that we do all we can to save our planet for future generations, and indeed make it safer for us all today. The Kyoto Protocol is a first but crucial step in doing so. The Protocol’s entry into force today sends a strong signal to business that we need new climate-friendly technologies.”
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas added: “Combating climate change is not an option, it is a necessity. If global temperature continue to rise, this will present a threat to our well-being, to our economies. This is why the EU is working hard to meet its Kyoto targets for cutting emissions. But overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that we need to work harder and aim for deep emissions reductions worldwide. Kyoto is only a first step - the EU is ready to discuss further-reaching measures for the post-2012 period and we urge the rest of the international community to engage in this discussion at the earliest opportunity.”
To celebrate the Protocol’s entry into force Commissioner Dimas will host a reception at 12.30 today. Invitees are the ambassadors of the 140 ratification countries, Environment Minister Lucien Lux of the Luxemburg Presidency, the president and members of the European Parliament environment committee and representatives of industry and non-governmental organisations active in the climate change debate.
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), whose ultimate objective is to stabilise global greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system. Under Kyoto, the EU-15 has committed to reduce its overall emissions of the six greenhouse gases controlled by the Protocol to 8% below the 1990 level by 2012. Each EU-15 Member State has an individual target set under a “burden-sharing” agreement. The rest of the EU-25 has individual reduction targets of 6% or 8%, except Cyprus and Malta which have no targets.