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

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

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

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

Dire warnings of damage to economic growth resulting from theProtocol are mis-placed.  There are significant businessopportunities in the new technologies that will be required to helpus move towards a low carbon economy.  Targets should be seennot as a threat but as an opportunity.

Increasingly, people appreciate that it is not the overall levelof growth that is important for a developed country such as ourown, but the quality of that growth.  We want to leave afuture for our children and grandchildren.  As one economisthas put it, 'we need to start treating the earth as if we intendedto stay.'

Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is a welcome step in theright direction and marks the beginning of an internationalcollaboration to tackle one of the most significant threats facingour world."

Notes:  To become binding the KyotoProtocol first has to be ratified by countries who together areresponsible for at least 55% of global greenhouse gasemissions.  Russia emits 17% of the global total, so once itratifies, the 55% threshold will be met. 

The Protocol requires member states to cut greenhouse gasemissions by 2012.  The most significant cuts must come fromdeveloped countries as they contribute most to globalwarming.  (Developing countries have no targets but arerequired to monitor and report on greenhouse gas emissions and makeplans to limit emissions).  The UK's is roughly on course tomeet a 12.5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, although there isstill much still to be done.