Greenhouse gases from industrialized countries rise after 1990s drop, UN reports

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

17 November 2008 – Greenhouse gas emissions of 40 industrialized countries rose by 2.3 per cent between 2000 and 2006, while still about 5 per cent below the 1990 level, according to United Nations figures released today, two weeks before a major review conference on the issue.

For the smaller group of industrialized countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol setting reduction targets, emissions in 2006 were about 17 per cent below the Protocol’s 1990 base line, but they still grew after 2000. The pre-2000 decrease stemmed from the economic decline of transition countries in Eastern and Central Europe in the 1990s.

“The biggest recent increase in emissions of industrialized countries has come from economies in transition, which have seen a rise of 7.4 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions within the 2000 to 2006 time frame,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said.

“The figures clearly underscore the urgency for the UN negotiating process to make good progress in Poznan and move forward quickly in designing a new agreement to respond to the challenge of climate change,” he added, referring to the talks in the Polish city from 1 to 12 December that constitute the half-way mark of a two-year negotiating process, set to culminate in an ambitious international climate change deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, next year.

Mr. de Boer also noted that accounting data, including emission quotas for the Kyoto commitment period 2008-2012, have been finalized for almost all Kyoto countries. Such data is already used in emissions trading conducted by countries in accordance with the rules established by the Kyoto Protocol.

“Emission quotas defined by the Kyoto Protocol are no longer simple numbers on paper – they are part of real-time operation of the global carbon market,” he said. “We see the carbon market working and this is an important message, not least for the Poznan meeting,” he added.

In Poland, negotiators will take stock of the progress made in the first year of the talks and map out what needs to be done to reach agreement at the end of 2009. The meeting will also be an important opportunity for ministers to determine the key ingredients of a shared vision on long-term cooperation to address climate change.

With 192 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the Kyoto Protocol, which to date has 183 member Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.

The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.


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