Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Kyoto must only be the first step in addressing global warming

11 October, 2004


Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, South Down MLA Willie Clarke has called for a wider debate on global warming and said that Kyoto must only be the first step in addressing global warming.

Mr Clarke said:

"It is almost 7 years since the Kyoto protocol was signed in the early hours of 11 December 1997. Next year the treaty should at last come into force after Russia signed up to it. Yet we need to begin looking ahead to the successor to Kyoto. Every year almost 7 billion tonnes of carbon is released into the atmosphere. Before the industrial age, the CO2 level was steady at around 280 parts per million. When the Kyoto protocol was drawn up in 1997, the CO2 level had reached at 368 ppm. In 2004, it hit 379 ppm.

"Yet the reality is that Kyoto will not even come close to solving the problem of climate change. It is, as the UN Environment Programme director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement last week, 'only the first step in a long journey'. Most prediction of major climate change - rising temperatures and rising sea levels, and more frequent floods, droughts, storms are based on a concentration of 550 ppm. On current trends, this figure, is likely to be reached in the second half of this century.

"The Kyoto protocol involves modest reductions of less than 5%. The US does not support it, developing nations do not have to make any cuts and it expires in 2012. Many argue that we need to set the bar higher and that only drastic cuts in global emissions of CO2, of two-thirds or more, can stop the concentration of the gas rising ever higher and stave off ever more severe climate change.

"Progress on achieving long term targets rely on greater pressure on the US, which emits eight times as much CO2 per head of population as China and 18 times as much as India, and on abandoning Kyoto-style piecemeal negotiations on individual national targets in favour of a global plan to cap concentrations of critical greenhouse gases. Setting more ambitious targets to cap the concentration of green house gases requires a real commitment and will require major changes to the manufacturing process, to the way that energy is generated, as oil and natural gas supplies dwindle, and to our lifestyle. The time is ripe for a wider public debate on global warming and our response to it." ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin