One year later Kyoto targets still far off

Posted: 14 February 2006

Governments are failing to take the necessary action to ensure delivery of the Kyoto Protocol, Friends of the Earth said today, one year after this global treaty came into force to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions data from countries signed up to Kyoto reveal that many of the worlds’s industrialised countries are still failing to bring carbon emissions under control – with emissions in Italy, Canada, and Austria all increasing since 1990. UK emissions are also now rising – putting the UK’s Kyoto commitments in jeopardy.

Friends of the Earth warned that existing emission targets under the treaty are insufficient to avoid dangerous runaway climate change, with far deeper cuts required. But despite dramatic scientific warnings and substantial evidence that climate change is happening faster than previously predicted, global emissions are still on the rise.

The UK is reviewing its Climate Change Programme – seen as a crucial document in the battle against climate change. But this has been delayed and is reportedly bogged down in Whitehall disputes, and the Government appear to be giving greater priority to the Energy Review.

Friends of the Earth’s International Climate Campaigner Catherine Pearce said:“Countries are not even on track to meet even their modest Kyoto targets, despite growing recognition that we are already facing dramatic consequences as a result of climate change. If we have any hope of keeping temperature increases under control while we still have time, governments around the world must do more to improve energy efficiency, clean up our use of fossil fuels and invest more in sustainable, safe renewables.“

Mike Childs, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth added: “The UK likes to claim world leadership on climate change. Although UK emissions have been reduced since 1990, recent increases give cause for concern and could lead to the UK missing its Kyoto commitments. The Government must use the forthcoming Climate Change Programme Review to ensure delivery of our international commitments, as well as meeting its bigger election manifesto commitments to reduce carbon dioxide by 20 per cent. The Climate Change Programme is the most important policy document this Government will produce.”

Kyoto’s first anniversary comes at a crucial time with talks due to start on the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol, post 2012, as well as key policy reviews taking place in the UK to look at future action on climate change and an energy review.

The Montreal declaration strengthened international resolve to continue legally binding targets under Kyoto, despite efforts from the US Administration to block progress. Talks later this year will consider further emission reductions for the industrialised world, as well as potential action to limit growing emissions from some of the rapidly industrialising countries such as China and India.

Catherine Pearce added: “One year on from Kyoto coming into force, we must look to a stronger improved Kyoto after 2012. But the strength of the post 2012 climate regime will inevitably depend on how much progress has already been made. Industrialised countries must show greater leadership and provide more support so that developing countries can follow suit.”

  • Under the Kyoto Protocol the EU was given a target to reduce emissions from the 1990 level by 8 per cent by 2012. By 2003 it had only reduced emissions by 1.7 per cent. Other countries showed very mixed results:

    Germany – Kyoto target -21% (2003 -18.5%)Italy – Kyoto target -6.5% (2003 +11.6%)UK – Kyoto target -12.5% (2004 -14.6%)Japan – Kyoto target -6% (2004 +7.4%)Canada – Kyoto target -6% (2003 +24%)

    A full briefing on EU progress on meeting the Kyoto targets and future action needed is available: here

  • Recent scientific reports suggest that in order to achieve the temperature rise target with reasonable certainty, concentration of greenhouse gas levels must peak below 500 ppm and then return below 400ppm, which would require global CO2 cuts of 50 per cent by 2050. Industrialised countries would have to cut their CO2 emissions by 80 per cent.

    According to Malte Meinshausen, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich concentration of 550ppm, a figure that has been used as a rule-of-thumb in the past, has a 68 per cent to 99 per cent chance of exceeding the 2°C threshold.

    From our website:

    Global warming past the 'tipping point'