EU must set global emissions example beyond Kyoto treaty

A further nine steps must be taken on top of the Kyoto Protocol in order to avoid reaching dangerous global levels of climate change, conservation organisation WWF has said.

After the Kyoto Protocol enters into force, nine more steps need to be taken, according to WWF report Nine steps to make Kyoto a success, to prevent world temperatures rising to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognised as the climate danger level by the EU and other key environmental players.

To keep global warming beneath that two-degree ceiling, industrialised countries must slash CO2 emissions by 80% by mid-century, with global emissions cut by 50% over the same period.

The Kyoto Protocol currently asks countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.

“While it is a big step forward, the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol is just the first step in containing the threat of climate change,” director of WWF’s global climate change programme, Jennifer Morgan said.

“To make the intentions of the Kyoto Protocol come true much more effort will have to go into reducing emissions, and governments will have to take the lead.”

Essential further steps that WWF says governments must take in order for the Kyoto Protocol to be effective include:

  • Making more ambitious policies in industrialised countries to reduce emissions and meet Kyoto targets
  • Cutting emissions from the biggest emitter, making the power sector switch to clean electricity
  • Making EU emissions trading a success, while ensuring that targets for reducing emissions are honest and ambitious enough
  • Providing support for clean, efficient technologies for developing countries through finance and credit institutions
  • Making clean energy a core business, adopting all the necessary policies and structures to develop renewable energies and energy efficiency
  • Putting pressure on the US and Australia to reduce their CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, and make them realise that denial is not an option
  • Gearing up to provide support to the world’s poorest countries to help them deal with the impacts of climate change
  • Committing internationally to the two degree Celsius ceiling, the crucial tipping point for the environment, because crossing it would have devastating effects on humans and wildlife
  • Planning for the next decade, with the countries that have ratified Kyoto creating critical mass for ambitious targets after 2012

    “The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol starts a new market revolution – the carbon market,” Ms Morgan continued. “Gone are the days when companies and countries could emit CO2 and not think about it. From now on the switch from coal to clean power should become the norm.”

    She added that the “Kyoto Club” now needed to be the driving force behind controlling global warming and preventing climate change, acting as an example to the rest of the world and setting even more ambitious targets.

    “The Kyoto Protocol must mark the beginning of the transformation needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, building upon its momentum and not the irresponsible approaches of the Bush Administration,” she concluded.

    “The European Union must proactively work with developing countries to create new alliances for change.”

    The global power sector accounts for 37% of all energy-related CO2 emissions.

    By Jane Kettle

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