AGREEMENT ELUSIVE, CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS SUSPENDED

ENV/DEV/554
27 November 2000

AGREEMENT ELUSIVE, CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS SUSPENDED

27 November 2000


Press Release
ENV/DEV/554


AGREEMENT ELUSIVE, CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS SUSPENDED

20001127

Further Efforts Said to Be Needed on Strengthening Financial, Technical Cooperation between Developed, Developing Countries

THE HAGUE, 25 November (UNFCCC) –- After two weeks of intensive negotiations, ministers and diplomats have suspended talks on making the Kyoto Protocol operational and strengthening financial and technical cooperation between developed and developing countries on climate-friendly policies and technologies.

The conference chairman, Jan Pronk, Environment Minister of the Netherlands, said it was extremely disappointing that political leaders were unable to work out and finalize guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially when the public had such high expectations.

“But I believe that the political will to succeed is still alive”, he added, “and I am confident that we can regroup in the very near future and complete a deal that leads to effective actions to control emissions and protect the most vulnerable countries from the impacts of global warming.”

The conference made progress towards outlining a package of financial support and technology transfer to help developing countries contribute to global action on climate change. But the key political issues –- including an international emissions trading system, a “clean development mechanism”, the rules for counting emissions reductions from carbon “sinks” such as forests, and a compliance regime -– could not be resolved in the time available.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Töpfer, said the conference had highlighted both the importance and the difficulty of making the transition to low-carbon economies. He said it was better to suspend the talks and resume later to ensure that the right path forward might be found, rather than take a hasty step that was a move in the wrong direction.

A compromise text tabled by Mr. Pronk will be forwarded as an input to a resumed sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These talks could be held in late May in Bonn, the location of the climate change secretariat.

The Executive Secretary of the Convention, Michael Zammit Cutajar, said that establishing a robust global regime for addressing climate change was an ambitious undertaking, comparable to the creation of the international trade regime under the

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World Trade Organization. “Global warming is one of the great challenges of the twenty-first century”, he said, “and I trust that public reaction to our meeting here will inspire governments with the necessary sense of urgency to succeed at the next opportunity.”

Today’s suspension of a major environmental negotiation is not without precedent. In February 1999, governments meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, were forced to suspend a final round of talks on the Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (which, like the Climate Change Convention, was signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit). In January of this year, the resumed session succeed in adopting an agreement on genetically modified organisms that was widely applauded by all negotiating groups and by environmentalists and industry representatives.

The Hague conference was attended by more than 7,000 participants from 182 governments, 323 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and 443 media outlets.

Note to correspondents: For more information, please contact Michael Williams in Geneva at (41-22) 917 8242/244/111, fax (41-22) 797 3464, or e-mail . (Official documents are available at .)

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For information media. Not an official record.