Annan hails EU ratification of Kyoto treaty on global warming

Annan hails EU ratification of Kyoto treaty on global warming

EU officials after Kyoto protocol ratification ceremony
As 15 countries of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission today ratified the Kyoto Protocol - a binding international treaty designed to combat global warming - Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the move as a welcome development and called on other nations to follow suit.

"The unanimous ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the European Union is good news for the entire world," Mr. Annan told European ministers gathered for a luncheon to mark the occasion at UN Headquarters in New York.

Calling climate change "one of the greatest challenges the world will have to face in the 21st century," the Secretary-General said the EU had shown that it takes the threat seriously. "I hope others will follow suit so that the Protocol - a sound and innovative response to a truly global threat affecting rich and poor countries alike - can enter into force as soon as possible," he said.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol is an addition to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has 186 parties, including the 15 member States of the European Union and the European Community. The treaties seek to stabilize concentrations in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of global warming. The Kyoto Protocol establishes quantified commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requiring that over the period 2008 to 2012, worldwide emissions be reduced by 5 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

To enter into force, the Kyoto Protocol will need to be ratified by at least 55 States parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, including specified industrialized countries representing at least 55 per cent of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions from this group.

Speaking at a press conference today, European ministers said the their countries' unanimous ratification of the Kyoto Protocol should generate international momentum to combat climate change.

"Today is an important day for the environment and for the process of international cooperation," said the Acting President of the EU Council of Ministers, Jaume Matas, who is also Spain's Minister of the Environment. With the ratifications, he said, the EU was affirming that only international cooperation could combat climate change and that the Kyoto Protocol was the best first step to taking concrete measures on curbing greenhouse gasses over the long-term.