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UN: Industrial Countries' Greenhouse Gases Rose 2000-2006

BONN, Germany, November 18, 2008 (ENS) – Climate change talks set for the Polish city of Poznan from 1 to 12 December come half-way through a two-year negotiating process to forge an international climate change deal in Copenhagen, Denmark next year.

Talks are supposed to result in a replacement for the limited Kyoto Protocol with its greenhouse gas emissions targets for industrialized countries that is unsatisfactory to some countries, and which expires anyway in 2012.

But in this, the first year of the Kyoto Protocol’s commitment period, industrialized countries have only been able to slow the emission of climate-heating greenhouse gases, but have not been able to halt, let alone reverse them.


Poland’s Belchatow is the largest coal-fueled
thermal power plant in Europe. (Photo
courtesy Elektrownia Belchatow)

According to United Nations figures released Monday, greenhouse gas emissions of 40 industrialized countries rose by 2.3 percent between 2000 and 2006, although they remain about five percent below the 1990 level.

For the smaller group of industrialized countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol setting reduction targets, emissions in 2006 were about 17 percent 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 percent in greenhouse gas emissions within the 2000 to 2006 time frame,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

The emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol can be achieved not only with domestic emission reductions but also with the use of credits from Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry activities and from the three market-based flexibility mechanisms – emissions trading, joint implementation, and the clean development mechanism.

“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,” de Boer said.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will not be at the Poznan talks, even as an observer, said de Boer, who had earlier expressed the hope that Obama might attend. “There is not going to be an Obama delegation in Poznan,” he told a press conference in Germany that was also on the Internet.

De Boer observed that accounting data, including emission quotas for the Kyoto commitment period 2008-2012, have been finalized for almost all Kyoto countries. This type of data already is used in emissions trading conducted by countries under the Kyoto Protocol.


Hyundai Petrochemicals Daesan 2 cracker and
power plant in South Korea burns residual
fuel oil and emits greenhouse gases. It is
the world’s 11th largest power plant.
(Photo courtesy Hyundai Engineering
Co Ltd)

“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,” said the UN climate chief.

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 be an 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 of all the world’s governments 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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