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European Car Agreement Illustrates Importance of Cooperation with Industry in Global Warming Efforts

Nairobi, 7 October 1998 - Welcoming the agreement between Europe's environment ministers and car makers to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, said the initiative is important proof that good cooperation with industry is essential if governments are to meet the targets for greenhouse gas reduction that they signed up to in Kyoto last year.

"This ground-breaking commitment is a vital step forward in our efforts to deal with global warming. It sends a clear signal to governments of the importance of working with industry, and there is a need for similar agreements around the world," said Toepfer. "UNEP has a long experience in dealing with voluntary agreements which should always be linked to clear targets and a monitoring process," he said.

European Union (EU) environment ministers on Tuesday accepted an offer made by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association to voluntarily cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from car exhausts by a quarter over the next ten years. The agreement will help the EU to achieve the ultimate objective of a cut in output of six greenhouse gases to eight percent below 1990 levels by 2010, as agreed at the United Nations climate change talks in Kyoto, Japan, last December.

Yesterday's announcement came on the same day as U.S. White House officials were arguing their case before the House of Representatives Commerce Committee panel, that U.S. costs for reaching targeted greenhouse gas emissions cuts as agreed in Kyoto would be "modest". That American business has an opportunity to lead the world in clean-air technological advances was an important part of the White House testimony.

"The agreement in Europe and the assertion from the White House highlights the UNEP position that working closely with industry will help governments to turn what was talked about in Kyoto into reality," said Toepfer. "However, cooperation with industry is not a cure-all to the climate change problem and governments will still need to institute other measures in order to meet agreed emission reduction targets," he said.

Next month governments will meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, (2-13 November) for the Fourth Session of the Conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. High on the agenda is the need to flesh out the Kyoto Protocol's three "mechanisms". These mechanisms - an international "emissions trading" regime, a "Clean Development Mechanism" and "Joint implementation" - are intended to help developed countries reduce the cost of reaching their combined 5 percent emissions-reduction target by the five-year period 2008-2012. At the same time, it is intended that the mechanisms will help developing countries achieve sustainable development.

For more information please contact:
Robert Bisset,
UNEP Media and Communications Officer in Nairobi
on tel: +254-2-623084, fax: +254-2-623292,

UNEP News Release 1998/103

Wednesday 07 Oct 1998
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