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European Commission stands behind Kyoto Protocol

European Commission stands behind the Kyoto Protocol

The European Commission continues to support the Kyoto Protocol as the only international framework to combat climate change. The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said in Strasbourg on 16 December: “The Commission firmly supports the Kyoto Protocol and its full implementation by the EU. We are not changing our position or going back on the targets that we have agreed. The recent climate change conference in Milan confirmed strong international support for the Kyoto Protocol. We are confident that Russia will ratify the Protocol so that it can enter into force.”

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was ratified by the European Union and its Member States on 31 May 2002. In the meantime 120 Parties have ratified representing two-thirds of the world’s population. Under the rules of the Protocol and following the decision by the United States not to ratify, the Protocol will enter into force once Russia has ratified. The Kyoto Protocol commits the EU to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent between 1990 and 2008-2012.

Under its internal “burden-sharing” agreement, that became legally binding for the Member States when the EU decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, each Member State has accepted a target for limiting or reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The EU, as well as the Member States, has already taken significant measures to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Between 1990 and 2001, EU greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.3 percent, although emissions increased both in 2000 and 2001 and projections show that further emission reduction measures will be required to allow the EU to reach its 8 per cent emission reduction target.

Measures taken by the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include the promotion of electricity from renewables and of biofuels, increased energy-efficiency of buildings and passenger cars and emissions trading between large industrial installations. The 9th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in Milan on 1 – 12 December 2003 marking another step in the international climate change process. It reached agreement on a number of further operational rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol and on further work. It confirmed that measures are taken world-wide to implement the Kyoto Protocol. Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: “If we want to tackle climate change there is no alternative to the Kyoto Protocol. It is an ingenious treaty because it allows all countries to participate in the fight against climate change according to their economic potential. It provides for cost-effective ways for reducing emissions and international technology transfer. And it includes strong rules for monitoring and enforcing compliance. If we were to go back to the drawing board to negotiate another treaty we would loose five or ten years at least. But climate change doesn’t go away.” She added: “At the EU level we have put into place measures that will reduce emissions at least cost to our economy. From our analyses we know that we can meet our Kyoto obligations without harming our economy.”

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