NGO leaders take it to Putin
Moscow, 4 July 2006 - Energy security requires an energy revolution to save the climate was the message that Greenpeace took to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with international NGO leaders at the Novo-Ogarevo presidential residence outside of Moscow today. The meeting was in preparation for the upcoming summit of the G-8 heads of state and government to be held in St. Petersburg starting on 15 July.
"President Putin seems to still have doubts about the science of climate change, leaving him and President Bush as the only major world leaders who still have these doubts. But he agrees that there is a need to act, and he reaffirmed his commitment to the Kyoto Protocol," said Greenpeace International Executive Director Gerd Leipold at the conclusion of this evening's meeting.
Greenpeace believes that climate change is the greatest threat to humanity and human civilization, and the unsustainable production and use of energy from fossil fuels is its primary cause. Decisive action in the next decade or two is critical to avoid the worst disruption of the climate system. Respect for the natural limits of our planet must become the primary driver for energy strategies at all levels.
"We are at an historic crossroads," said Leipold. "In the next two decades we will chose either the path of fossil fuels and nuclear power, climate chaos and war; or we will begin the shift to a truly sustainable energy system, equitably shared by all peoples. No one ever went to war over the wind or the sun."
"We call on the G-8 to lead this transformation, starting with recognition of the need for action, and concrete steps to decrease our reliance on the global trade in fossil and nuclear fuels which create political tension, war, the risk of nuclear proliferation, debt and corruption as well as air pollution and climate change," Leipold continued.
In addition to the climate and energy issue, NGO leaders pressed the Russian President on the status of the new NGO law in Russia. President Putin admitted that the law could be changed 'if problems occur', but NGOs feel that there are problems already, and that the law is ripe for abuse. Other issues raised were human security in relation to the 'war on terrorism', and poverty and development issues following on from last year's G-8 focus on Africa.
Earlier in the day, President Putin attended part of the 'Civil G-8' conference in Moscow, gathering more than 600 representatives of non-governmental organizations, where participants passed resolutions calling for the shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power to create true energy security through the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Resolutions were also passed on human security, education, the fight against HIV/AIDS, sustainable development policies and global security and the interests of society. For a G-8 head of state to spend so much time with NGOs in the preparation for a summit is unprecedented.
Note to editors: The meeting with President Putin was attended by the leaders of Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Social Watch, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Action Aid International, Consumers International, Human Rights Watch, Global Campaign for Education, Global Call for Action Against Poverty, International Council of Women and Transparency International.