Press Releases


Note to Correspondents

Note No. 219
21 October 2002

GOVERNMENTS PREPARE FOR
KYOTO PROTOCOL STARTING GUN

New Delhi Climate Conference to Put Spotlight on Clean Technology,
Adaptation and National Action to Cut Greenhouse Emissions

NEW DELHI, 16 October 2002 -- Anticipating that the Kyoto Protocol will come into effect in early 2003, the 185 member states of the UN Climate Change Convention are meeting in New Delhi from 23 October to 1 November to broaden the range of actions available to governments and civil society for addressing climate change.

"By the time the Protocol enters into force, developed countries will have less than ten years to meet their Kyoto targets for greenhouse gases," said Joke Waller-Hunter, Executive Secretary of the Climate Change Convention. "The big question now is what practical actions these governments -- including those that choose to remain outside Kyoto -- are taking to lower their emissions."

The Kyoto Protocol will enter into force 90 days after being ratified by 55 governments, including developed countries representing at least 55% of that group’s 1990 carbon dioxide emissions. As of early October, 95 Parties have ratified, including developed countries accounting for 37.1% of CO2 emissions. The Russian Federation and several other countries are expected to ratify in the near future, pushing this percentage over the threshold.

"Progress on implementation is vital, and with our annual conference being hosted this year by India I hope and expect that there will be a strong focus on the concerns of developing countries," said Ms. Waller-Hunter. "These concerns include preparing to cope with global warming impacts, accelerating the transfer of climate-friendly technologies, and integrating climate policies more closely with sustainable development."

Recent climate disasters around the world -- from droughts in India and the US to floods throughout Europe -- have served as potent reminders of some of the expected consequences of global warming. The New Delhi conference will discuss how to build greater capacity, especially in developing countries, for minimizing vulnerabilities and preparing for worsening droughts, floods, storms, health emergencies, and other expected impacts.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, rising temperatures will increase the frequency and severity of heat waves. The intensity of tropical cyclones will likely worsen over some areas. Major climate patterns could shift, leading, for example, to greater annual variability in the precipitation levels of the Asian monsoon and thus more intense floods and droughts. Recognizing that many developing countries will need support to cope with such impacts, governments established an Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol to finance projects and programmes on adaptation.

Developing countries will also need better access to innovative technologies for reducing greenhouse emissions from energy and production. The Plan of Implementation adopted last month by the World Summit on Sustainable Development underlined the importance of developing cleaner technologies in key sectors such as energy. It also called for greater efforts to promote technology transfer, including through the private sector.

Another key agenda item is the review of national communications containing emissions and other data from member governments. According to a report being considered at the meeting, the latest available data (2000) reveal that greenhouse gas emissions in the richest (essentially OECD) countries have risen by 8.4% since 1990 (the baseline year for Kyoto targets); this figure excludes sequestration by carbon sinks. Meanwhile, emissions in the economies in transition (Central/Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) declined by 38% due to economic restructuring.

The New Delhi meeting is known officially as the Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 8) and is likely to draw at least 3,000 participants. The high-level segment will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, 30-31 October. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee plans to address the meeting on Wednesday, plus some 80 ministers from around the world are expected to participate in the high-level segment, thus adding political momentum to the decisions taken by the conference.

***

Note to journalists:For further information about facilities at COP 8, please contact Axel Wüstenhagen at +91-9810698137 or awuestenhagen@uno.de. For information on accreditation, contact Michel Smitall at +91-9810270716 or press@unfccc.int. For interviews and other information, contact Michael Williams at +41-22-9178242 or michael.williams@unep.ch.

See also www.unfccc.int.