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Bonn climate talks to focus on rules for cutting greenhouse emissions and on support for developing countries

Amsterdam/Bonn, 13 July 2001 - Ministers and diplomats will meet in Bonn over the next two weeks in an effort to finalize the rulebook for implementing the Kyoto Protocol and spurring industrialized countries to achieve their greenhouse gas emissions targets.

The negotiators also aim to adopt a package of measures to strengthen financial and technical cooperation between developed and developing countries on climate-friendly policies and technologies.

"After six years of arduous and complex negotiations, it is time to finalize the system that will guide global action on climate change for the next two decades and beyond," said Michael Zammit Cutajar, the top United Nations official for climate change.

"The Kyoto Protocol sets out a robust framework for encouraging markets to work for emission reductions. It sets legally-binding targets and timetables supported by rigorous performance indicators. It offers a range of flexible options for achieving the targets at the lowest economic cost. And it gives incentives for emission-saving investments in developing countries."

"It would be a great waste to leave the rule-book for this massive undertaking unfinished when we have already come so far. Once the rules are finalized, governments will be in a better position to decide in what political context to apply them," he said, adding, "I hope that they will do so by bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force."

The Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 6) was suspended last November in The Hague after negotiators were unable to reach agreement. To prepare for the COP's resumption, negotiators will attend a third and final round of informal consultations from Monday the 16th through the morning of Thursday the 19th. The COP will resume Thursday afternoon at 15h. The high-level segment will then start and run through Sunday the 22nd. The political results of the high-level segment are to be translated into legal text during the final part of the COP from Monday to Friday, 23-27 July.

However, positions remain far apart on a number of issues. Key points still to be resolved include financial support and technology transfer to help developing countries contribute to global action on climate change, support for their adaptation to the expected impacts of climate change and to the economic effects of global efforts to reduce emissions, establishment of an international emissions trading system and a Clean Development Mechanism, rules for counting emissions reductions from carbon "sinks" such as forests, and a compliance regime.

Agreement on these issues is vital because the Kyoto Protocol will only enter into force after it has been ratified by at least 55 countries, including industrialized countries accounting for 55% of this group's 1990 emissions of CO2. This 55% threshold would be particularly difficult to reach without the participation of the world's two largest economies the US (36.1%) and Japan (8.5%).

The importance of an agreement is further underlined by the findings earlier this year of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC's Third Assessment Report confirmed that the evidence for humanity's influence on the global climate is now stronger than ever before. The report projected a potentially devastating global warming of 1.4 5.8°C over the coming century.

"The strong scientific consensus on the risks posed by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions should send a powerful message to policy-makers everywhere," said Mr. Zammit Cutajar, who is the Executive Secretary of the Climate Change Convention. "The remaining uncertainties should not can not be used as an excuse to avoid taking action now."

While highlighting remaining uncertainties, the IPCC detailed expected changes in weather patterns, water resources, the cycling of the seasons, ecosystems, extreme climate events, and much more. It concluded that our future ability to satisfy human needs will be affected both positively and negatively by changes in agricultural conditions; by local and regional trends in droughts, floods, and storms; by unforeseen stresses on buildings and other long-standing infrastructure; by altered disease and health risks; and by other factors.

The report also confirmed that many cost-effective solutions to rising greenhouse gas emissions are available today. Frequently, however, governments will need to address various institutional, behavioural and other barriers before these solutions can realize their potential.

"The Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol offer governments the necessary tools and incentives for promoting solutions to global warming," said Mr. Zammit Cutajar. "Fortunately, more and more corporate CEOs and government policy-makers recognize that boosting energy efficiency and adopting other climate-friendly reforms will help them become more competitive in today's increasingly competitive world."

"The fundamental aim of the negotiations is not the initial set of short-term targets set by the Protocol. Rather, it is to get the ball rolling by convincing companies, consumers and governments that the pressures and incentives for cutting emissions are going to intensify with every passing year so that they are motivated and inspired to start taking action," he said.

Note to journalists: COP President Jan Pronk and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar will brief the press during the evening of Wednesday the 18th in Saal Reger, Maritim Hotel, Bonn. For interviews with Mr. Zammit Cutajar, please contact Carine Richard-Van Maele today at +41-22-917-5816 or from Monday at +49-160-367-5892.





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