The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today welcomed the United States-led initiative to work with Australia and major Asian nations to develop new technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, but cautioned that it was no substitute for the Kyoto Protocol, which neither the US nor Australia has ratified.
The six-country accord between the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea aims to spread new energy technologies to reduce pollution and curb global warming without hurting economic development. The Kyoto Protocol requires 35 industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by the year 2012.
"If it leads to real and meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases and a decrease in the kinds of energy shocks which damage, in particular, the fragile economies of poor countries, then it is a welcome step forward and a clear signal that we now have a truly global consensus on the need to fight climate change," said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer.
"Rapidly developing economies like China and India need new and more efficient energy technologies if they are to lift their populations out of poverty without compromising the environment or destabilizing the global economy," he said, adding that countries like the United States are now equally aware that being dependent on fossil fuels is and will be an increasing burden in the future.
But he stressed that the US-led initiative is not a substitute for the 152-nation Kyoto Protocol, its legally binding emission reductions and its various flexible mechanisms including emission trading and the Clean Development Mechanism.
"We also urgently need more investment in climate-vulnerable developing countries to help them adapt to the climate change that is already underway," he added.
"However, all countries must look to how we tackle climate change beyond 2012. We need numerous imaginative and diverse initiatives if we are to put the planet on track for the up to 60 per cent emission reductions deemed necessary by scientists. These need to involve not only governments but industry sectors up to climate alliances between cities in the developed and developing world," he said.