Glimmer of Hope for Closing Loopholes in Kyoto Climate Change Agreement | WWF

Glimmer of Hope for Closing Loopholes in Kyoto Climate Change Agreement

Posted on
12 June 1998
Bonn - WWF welcomed small but important steps forward in closing the major loopholes written into last years Kyoto agreement on climate change, as two weeks of intergovernmental talks ended today. But the conference did not debate the critical need for industrialised nations to strengthen domestic efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide.

There is an emerging glimmer of hope that governments will close off loopholes which could wreck efforts to combat climate change, said Lars Georg Jensen, Policy Co-ordinator of WWFs Climate Change Campaign. There is still a large amount of unfinished business from Kyoto which must be dealt with at the next conference scheduled for Buenos Aires in November.

The major loopholes which governments began to confront in Bonn include:

  • sinks - WWF has always cautioned against relying on forests to mop up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Governments have now accepted the enormous scientific uncertainties surrounding this issue. They are to commission a new study from the pre-eminent scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which should be completed before countries rush into new ways to exploit the worlds forests. Absent in Bonn, however, was discussion of how inaction on climate change will threaten the survival of many forests world wide.

  • emissions trading - despite continuing intransigence from the United States on agreeing to limit the amount of pollution rights which countries could buy abroad, there has been some progress on agreeing the principles for a strong and well-monitored emissions trading system. But industrialised countries have still to respond seriously to developing nations concerns that emissions trading is unfair because it rewards large industrialised polluters without compensating poorer nations which will suffer the worst effects of climate change.

  • clean development mechanism - although political progress was painfully slow and marred by confrontation, the G-77 group of developing countries has shown it is open to co-operating in defining rules by which private sector finance could be channelled into projects to limit carbon emissions, so long as they promote sustainable development. Effective rules should limit the risk of industrialised countries snapping up cheap short-term emission limitation options, leaving developing countries only with expensive options in the future. This engagement by the G-77 begins to answer demands by the United States for meaningful participation by developing countries in the Kyoto agreement.

In Kyoto, industrialised countries agreed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% in the period 2008 to 2012 - a weak target that they could easily meet through domestic efforts. They also wrote in a number of flexibility mechanisms, intended to reduce the cost of cutting carbon dioxide, which are potentially open to abuse by nations wanting to avoid taking action at home.

For more information from WWF representatives in Bonn:

Lars Georg Jensen, Policy Co-ordinator.
tel: +45 21 45 76 69 (English, Danish)

Stephan Singer, sinks expert,
tel: +49 172 439 4111 (German, English)

Nick Mabey, emission trading expert,
tel: +44 498 843 610 (English)

Mark Kenber, developing country expert,
tel: +49 171 709 4624 (Spanish, English)

Contact other WWF experts via Andrew Kerr,
tel: +49 171 709 4624 for more information in Dutch, English, French and Italian.