CLIMATE CHANGE - MASS PROTESTS Dec 2005

 

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Campaigners in London and Edinburgh have joined a global protest taking place in 32 countries in a mass call for action over climate change.

 

Thousands marched through London in a protest which ended at the US embassy.

Dozens of protesters marched to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh via the Royal Mile.

The marches coincide with UN climate talks in Canada attended by Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and Environment Minister Elliott Morley. 

 

 

 

Carbon billowing into the atmospher

 

The protests were organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.  Campaigners in London went past Downing Street, and a letter demanding more Government commitment to emission reductions was handed in to No 10.

 

Former environment minister Michael Meacher said "I certainly think government will be watching this very carefully. And I think it will have an increasing impact on public opinion.

"I'd like to think we may be doing our little bit to add to the cacophony around the world in our anger at President Bush still distancing himself from what the rest of us throughout the world believe is absolutely necessary."

 

'We are watching'

 

The Edinburgh march began at East Market Street at 1100 GMT and finished at the Scottish Parliament about an hour later.  Green MSP Mark Ballard, who addressed the protesters, said: "The eyes of future generations are on Montreal.  "Across the world, more than 30 protests will make sure that our leaders know that we are watching them too."  He said: "Tony Blair has caved in to the US approach of abandoning targets on reducing emissions in favour of complacency."

 

 

 

Protestors march in London

 

 

The Montreal talks follow on from the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997 and called for 30% cuts by 2020.  Mr Meacher earlier told BBC Radio 4's Today programme further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - widely thought to contribute to rising temperatures - are vital.  "We need now to aim for more. That is what climate change is telling us. We need to say minus 25% by 2025.  "I do think it's important that we don't kowtow to US demands to scrap Kyoto. Because whatever concession we make to the Bush administration we will get nothing in return, just like we got nothing in return over Iraq."

 

He said the Bush administration "will never sign up to any meaningful agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions".  Mr Meacher said it was more important to sign up developing countries such as China and India to climate change protocols.  He said industrialised countries need to be seen to make cuts so other countries would follow.

 

 

 

 

 

" I do think it's important that we don't kowtow to US demands to scrap Kyoto"  Michael Meacher - Ex-environment minister

 

 

 

Campaigners target US over Kyoto - the international agreement on emissions coming into force on Wednesday.

 

 

Police said about 500 people had marched to the United States embassy, carrying flags of the 136 countries that have ratified the treaty.  The US, the world's largest polluter, withdrew from the treaty in 2001, citing economic concerns.  The protocol, agreed in 1997, sets legally-binding emissions reductions.  Nearly 180 nations have signed up, but some have not yet formally ratified it.

 

 

 

 

The US - the world's biggest polluter - pulled out of Kyoto 2001

 

 

 

It binds industrialised nations to reduce worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below their 1990 levels over the next decade.  The treaty nearly stalled after the US, which created 36% of emissions in 1990, pulled out.  The protocol needed to be ratified by countries who were responsible for at least 55% of the world's carbon emissions in 1990 to come into force. However, in 2004 Russia agreed to sign up, allowing that requirement to be met.

 

Phil Thornhill, of the Campaign Against Climate Change, which organised the march, said: "We want to express just how aghast we are the US is not joining the rest of the world.

"Scientists say we have about 10 years to save the environment, we really have to change the rate at which we act."

 

Green MEP Caroline Lucas said it was time to get tough with Washington.  "By refusing to sign up to Kyoto, the US is demonstrating - yet again - that it is a rogue state pursuing its perceived national self-interest to the exclusion of the peoples of the rest of the world.

"This is unacceptable and the world community must now look at ways of holding the US accountable for damage its isolationist policies are inflicting on the rest of the world," she added.

 

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "We are here to protest against the Bush administration and celebrate the fact Kyoto will come into force this week, despite the Bush administration trying its hardest to kill it."

 

 

 

Norman Baker - Environment spokesman, Lib Dems

 

 

 

Constituency:  Lewes

Date of birth:  26 July 1957

Telephone:  020 7219 3000

http://www.normanbaker.org.uk/

 

Lib Dems environment spokesman Norman Baker told the crowd it was "appalling" only 3% of energy in the UK came from renewable sources.  But Kendra Okonski of the International Policy Network, said the US was taking the right route.  "Kyoto is a very bad investment, because it is very costly today and only brings benefits far in the future.  "The US is correct in its decision of continuing to innovate and invest in new technologies that can bring us to a cleaner and more efficient future, for the whole world not just for the US or Europe."

 

In Edinburgh, campaigners held a "climate carnival" to highlight the effects of global warming.

Police said about 25 protesters turned out.  Some were dressed as mosquitoes, which they say are being found further north as climate change takes effect.

 

The coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol is something to be celebrated according to Phil Thornhill, the Campaign Against Climate Change

 

 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE: KEY STORIES



ANALYSIS AND BACKGROUND

 

 Animated guide -Find out how the greenhouse effect works

Warming: The evidence

 

Greens enjoying political climate - 05 Nov 05 |  Scotland

'Vague' targets on climate change -- 30 Jun 05 |  Scotland

'Action' call over climate change  - 18 May 05 |  Scotland

Call for action as Kyoto begins  -  16 Feb 05 |  Scotland

Green campaigners go on the march  - 12 Feb 05 |  Scotland

Climate talks - hoops and hot air  -  26 Nov 05 |  Science/Nature



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Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same impact on the atmosphere whether they originate in Washington, London or Beijing. Consequently, action by one country to reduce emissions will do little to slow global warming unless other countries act as well.  Ultimately, an effective strategy will require commitments and action by all the major emitting countries.

 

 

The international response to climate change was launched in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention established a long-term objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". It also set a voluntary goal of reducing emissions from developed countries to 1990 levels by 2000 - a goal that most countries did not meet.

 

Recognizing that stronger action was needed, countries negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets to reduce emissions 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, which made the Protocol's emissions targets binding legal commitments for those industrialized countries that ratified it (the United States and Australia have not ratified it). In addition, the market-based mechanisms established under the Protocol, including international emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, became fully operational with the Protocol's entry into force.

 

Attention now is turning to strengthening the international framework for the years following the Kyoto Protocol's initial commitment period (2008 - 2012). The overriding challenge is to forge an agreement that includes all major emitting countries - both developed and developing - and begins signficant long-term reductions in global emissions. In 2003, the Pew Center engaged more than 100 experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from nearly three dozen countries to address this issue. This initiative continues with the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a series of off-line discussions among 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries exploring options for next steps in the international climate effort. The final report of the Pocantico dialogue was released on November 15, 2005.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTACTS:

 

UK Environment Agency
Phone: (011)00-44-1709-389-201

Greater London Authority
Phone: (011)020-7983-4000

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

International Policy
What's Being Done

International Reports
Workshops & Conferences
Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

 

 

 

 

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