G8 environment ministers back domestic efforts to control climate change

Despite the US Government's argument that countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol should be allowed to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments by buying credits instead of undertaking domestic action, a meeting of environment ministers from the G8 countries has resulted in a pro-domestic reduction statement.

G8 environment ministers meet annually, on an informal basis, to discuss

common ground. This year’s meeting took place in Otsu, Japan, with climate

change and the Rio + 10 conference at the top of the agenda.

The ministers’ joint statement, issued at the end of the meeting, mentioned the Kyoto Protocol, including the following:

    We confirm our commitment to ensure that results achieved at the Sixth

    Meeting of the Council of the Parties [COP6] help promote the ratification

    and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible. For most

    countries, this means no later than 2002 … We recommit ourselves to taking

    significant domestic actions to tackle global climate change. We confirm

    that the Kyoto Mechanisms will be supplemental to domestic actions

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said she was pleased with the statement on climate change: “At this point, no unanimous position could be reached on the EU’s call for entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol by 2002

at the latest. The EU Ministers and the Commissioner emphasised again the

importance of domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

The subject of sustainable development and the Rio + 10 conference were

priorities for discussion at the meeting. The need to decouple economic

development from unsustainable development patterns was agreed, as was the use of sustainable development indicators. “We reaffirm our Rio + 5 commitment to have in place national strategies for sustainable development by 2002,” reads the ministers’ joint statement.

The ministers are urging heads of state to attend the Rio + 10 meeting in

order to ensure that sustainable development is given global priority. “The

success of Rio + 10 is important as it will be the first comprehensive

global meeting on sustainable development in the 21st century,” states the


The need for agreement by the end of the year on a multilateral environmental agreement on the control and phase-out of persistent organic

pollutants (see related story) was included in the meeting statement, as was

an acknowledgement that more information is needed on the impact of

endocrine disruptors (see related story) on human and animal health.

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