EU ministers must agree on speedy ratification and implementation of Kyoto protocolBrussels, Belgium - WWF, the conservation organization, calls on the European Ministers at the Energy Council (today), the Industry Council (tomorrow, December 5), the Environment Council (December 12) and the Laeken Summit of European Heads of States to give enthusiastic endorsement to the EU's commitment to early ratification and implementation of the Kyoto climate treaty.
Environment Ministers welcomed a package of anti-global warming measures, tabled by the European Commission, during their Council meeting of 29 October.
The measures included proposals for speedy ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by all EU Member States by June 2002 and for a European emissions trading scheme.
WWF wants to see the measures firmly endorsed by all European Ministers whose active support is essential for their successful implementation.
Finalisation by 180 governments of the operating rules for the Kyoto Protocol recently in Marrakech, Morocco, lent additional momentum to international efforts to bring the Kyoto treaty into force in time for next September's World Summit on Sustainable Development.
During its forthcoming Council meetings, the European Union has a unique opportunity to lead the industrialised world on Kyoto.
However, several EU nations are either blocking parts of the policy package or are trying to delay a final decision on EU ratification of Kyoto.
Although a decision by the European Parliament is needed for the different Councils to adopt legally binding decisions, a strong political message by the Ministers of all EU Member States is vitally important. This would also encourage progress by other governments in eastern Europe, Russia and Japan.
WWF has learned that the adoption of the currently proposed European emissions trading system is being blocked by Germany, Finland and the UK.
On internal steps that the EU needs to take to ratify Kyoto, Denmark and Austria are believed to be among those causing problems.
"Being seen as a leader during the global climate negotiations is not enough. The EU must put its money where its mouth is," said Dr Stephan Singer, head of WWF's European climate unit in Brussels. "It is too late and too risky to wait until the next Environment Council in March to deliver strong messages on ratification. At best, this is naﶥ. At worst, it could jeopardise the tight timetable of decision-making in Europe between now and the World Summit on Sustainable Development."
In a positive development last week, Sweden announced that rather than increasing its emissions of global warming gases by 4 percent over 1990 levels, as was foreseen under the EU "burden sharing" scheme, it would cut emissions 4 percent below 1990 levels.
WWF is calling on all European Ministers to learn from promising examples such as Sweden and from the multinational energy company ABB that has publicly called for an immediate ratification of the Kyoto treaty.
"European Ministers need to stop the squabbling over minor details and look at the big picture," said Singer.
For further information:
Stephan Singer, WWF Head of European Climate Unit, phone: +32 2 743 8817
Angelina Hermanns, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office, phone +32 2 740 0925