12 July 2001


NAIROBI/PARIS, 12 July (UNEP) -- Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has commented on next week’s meeting in Bonn at which the United Nations climate negotiations will be continued. He said scientific evidence clearly showed that climate change was the most serious socio-economic and environmental problem facing humanity in this century.

"In Bonn next week, while pushing ahead to ensure immediate short-term action, governments must also build the basis for a long-term structured and coordinated response to the problem", he said, referring to the resumed session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Speaking on the eve of the upcoming climate negotiations, Mr. Toepfer said that, to ensure success in Bonn and to keep the Kyoto Protocol process alive, governments must concentrate on the following:

1. A clear common agreement on the rules for obtaining emissions credits through emissions trading and carbon sinks.

2. Sending a clear signal to civil society, and especially the business community, that, despite some differences between governments, there is a common commitment for action.

3. Helping developing countries to fight climate change, now.

"The recently published Third Assessment Report by the UNEP/WMO Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a potentially devastating global warming of 1.4 – 5.8°C over the coming century. The expected changes in climate conditions will have negative impacts on agricultural production, freshwater supplies and sea levels; they will include new patterns of droughts, floods, storms, disease and health risks. The poorest will suffer most", Mr. Toepfer said.

"In response to this, industrialized countries should strengthen their financial cooperation with developing countries for creating climate-friendly economies and adapting to climate change impacts", he continued.

4. Investment in clean energy infrastructure and promoting technology transfer to developing countries.

Stressing the importance of meeting the sustainable energy needs of developing countries, Mr. Toepfer highlighted the importance of the widespread introduction of wind, solar and other renewables. "Economic development could be achieved without increasing carbon dioxide emissions", he said. The pessimism and gloom hanging over the climate talks had masked small but real progress towards reducing emissions.

He underlined the need for concrete action in Bonn next week. "We must do more, we have to do more and we can do more. Climate change is not simply an environmental problem, but a huge threat to the overarching goals of poverty reduction and the attainment of sustainable development worldwide." Governments and civil society, including private business, should go to the climate discussions with a positive attitude, avoiding an atmosphere of confrontation, advancing the Kyoto mechanisms and keeping the process alive.


Note: For more information or to arrange interviews with Klaus Toepfer
in Bonn, please contact Robert Bisset, UNEP press spokesman for Europe,
on +33-1-4437-7613, fax: +33-1-4437-1474, cell: +33-6-2272 5842,
e-mail: robert.bisset@unep.fr