01 October 2004

“Now we can build for the future” — Methodist Church welcomes Russia’s move to ratify Kyoto

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Church Secretary for International Affairs, reacts to Russia's backing of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty on countering climate change:

"Scientific evidence shows that we are on a collision course towards irreversible climate changes: melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather conditions.  So we welcomed last week's public acknowledgement by the Prime Minister of the scale of the challenge facing us, warning that over time we will need to endorse more ambitious aims than those of the Kyoto Protocol. 

However, implementation of the current Protocol provides a framework on which we can build in the future.  And Russia's backing means that after a seven year wait the Kyoto Protocol should finally come into force.

Dire warnings of damage to economic growth resulting from the Protocol are mis-placed.  There are significant business opportunities in the new technologies that will be required to help us move towards a low carbon economy.  Targets should be seen not as a threat but as an opportunity.

Increasingly, people appreciate that it is not the overall level of growth that is important for a developed country such as our own, but the quality of that growth.  We want to leave a future for our children and grandchildren.  As one economist has put it, 'we need to start treating the earth as if we intended to stay.'

Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is a welcome step in the right direction and marks the beginning of an international collaboration to tackle one of the most significant threats facing our world."

Notes:  To become binding the Kyoto Protocol first has to be ratified by countries who together are responsible for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Russia emits 17% of the global total, so once it ratifies, the 55% threshold will be met. 

The Protocol requires member states to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.  The most significant cuts must come from developed countries as they contribute most to global warming.  (Developing countries have no targets but are required to monitor and report on greenhouse gas emissions and make plans to limit emissions).  The UK's is roughly on course to meet a 12.5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, although there is still much still to be done. 

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