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Following is the text of the press release.

[The situation is now much worse than when this report was issued-Ed]
[Ed comments]

[Bush policies do not just favor the rich and rich nations; they also humiliate undeveloped or under-developed countries. And humiliation is a proven element in the radicalization of terrorists. Is this wrongheaded or what?]


Climate Response Needs to Be Both Lean and Green, Says UNEP

THE HAGUE/NAIROBI, 13 November 2000 -- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) considers decisive, early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries to be one of the top environmental priorities of the coming decade.
  • "The growing scientific evidence that the climate is already changing, and that global warming will be even worse over the course of the 21st century than previously believed, should ring alarm bells in every capital and every hamlet on Earth", said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of the UN.
  • The effects of humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases threaten to reverberate throughout the environment. As confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988, climate change is expected to magnify the stresses already facing coral reefs, forests, freshwater lakes and other ecosystems. It will push already endangered species off the edge and reduce already scarce water supplies in many dry lands. It now even threatens to accelerate the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. "There will be no winners, only losers, with rapid climate change", said Mr. Toepfer. "The industrialized world needs to take convincing steps now - today - to hasten the transition to climate-friendly economies. From now on, every year that is lost to inaction will be a tragedy for future generations.
  • "As a practical matter, this transition will be most effectively achieved by policies that take into account human nature, and the widespread desire for a better material life", he said. "We need to find solutions to our rising greenhouse gas emissions that recognize economic aspirations - particularly those of the poor while still ensuring a dramatic and permanent reduction in these climate-changing gases. "UNEP believes that a successful strategy for addressing climate change must include:
    • 1 -- A final agreement in The Hague that meets the minimal requirements of all major groups of countries, thus triggering enough ratifications for entry into force by 2002 and ensuring that developed countries achieve their Kyoto targets by 2012. [But Mr. Bush walked the other away!]
    • 2 -- International economic instruments that help to reduce global emissions at the lowest possible cost. At the same time, these instruments must be constructed and used in a way that guarantees the environmental credibility of the Kyoto Protocol. [Bush walked away.] The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), in particular, offers enormous potential for engaging private firms and developing countries in efforts to limit or avoid emissions. A recent report published by UNEP and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) argues that if the technical, financial and institutional aspects are properly addressed, the CDM can play a lead role in building public-private partnerships. UNEP also supports the launching of a well-constructed international emissions trading system. By reducing the overall costs of emissions cuts, this trading system can help to build international momentum for further emissions reductions in the second "commitment period" of 2013-18.
    • 3 -- Market-based instruments at the national level. Although many political barriers remain to the adoption of national carbon taxes, economists almost universally agree that such taxes could be amongst the most cost-effective instruments for discouraging carbon dioxide emissions. Another vital approach to promoting greater energy is eliminate inappropriate subsidies for emissions-intensive fuels and activities. The benefits of such market-based strategies are highlighted a new initiative on Energy Subsidy Reform and Sustainable Development that has been launched by UNEP and the International Energy Agency (IEAL). The initiative demonstrates how both developed and developing countries can promote sustainable energy use and production, identify, win-win solutions, and enhance understanding of the linkages between fossil fuels subsidies and economic and environmental impacts.
    • 4 -- Efforts to engage the business community. Progress on making the transition to a low-emissions global economy will lag unless the corporate community is motivated by clear and dependable signals and incentives to adopt clean technologies and producing climate-friendly products and services. Being green must become a core competitive value, and not merely an add-on. A report commissioned by UNEP called "Creating a Standard for a Corporate C02 Indicator" seeks to provide shareholders with comparable information about companies' contributions to global warming so that they can determine their exposure to new costs and changing market conditions.
    • 5 -- A strong commitment to engaging the developing countries. As the 21st century progresses, the emissions of newly industrializing countries will play an increasing role in climate change. It is vital that developed countries commit themselves now to providing technology transfer and financial support to enable developing countries to make the transition to environmentally sustainable economies. [Mr. Bush is leading the way--in the opposite direction.]
    • 6 -- Early actions to adapt to climate change impacts. Governments should start adapting now to expected impacts. Africa, small island States and other vulnerable areas will suffer the most, and will need the earliest action - and the most international support. Fortunately, studies conducted by UNEP in developing countries confirm that many of the best policies for adapting to climate change would often be worth investing in even if the climate remained stable. For example, present-day climatic variability, including El Nino and extreme events such as droughts and floods, already causes a great deal of destruction. Better weather monitoring and forecasting, better disaster preparedness, and better maintenance of infrastructure would help save lives even under today's conditions.
    • 7 -- A reliance on win-win policies and synergies. Climate change is not a stand-alone problem. Climate policies can be more economically and environmentally effective if they are integrated into national plans for sustainable development. Win-win policies that simultaneously meet the objectives of more than one environmental convention -- such as those on biodiversity and desertification -- should be encouraged as much as possible. In Africa, for example, efforts to reverse deforestation will not only reduce carbon emissions but will benefit biodiversity as well as efforts to reverse desertification. [Again Mr. Bush is heading the other way.]

UNEP, together with UNCTAD and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has published the report "The Clean Development Mechanism: Building International Public-Private Partnerships Under the Kyoto Protocol".


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