15 December 2003


(Reissued as received.)


MILAN, 12 December 2003 -- The annual ministerial meeting of the 188 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concludes today after adopting some two dozen legal decisions and exploring a wide range of options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Attended by more than 5,000 participants, including 95 ministers, the conference sought to stimulate further action by national governments, civil society and the private sector and to prepare for the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force.

The high-level political debate during the conference took place through three informal ministerial roundtables focusing on adaptation, mitigation, sustainable development, technology and assessment. Ministers agreed that climate change remains the most important global challenge to humanity and that its adverse effects are already a reality in all parts of the world. Many Parties, developed and developing, reported on activities to adapt to climate change and emphasized the moral duty to provide support to developing countries in these efforts.

Participants emphasized that the Kyoto Protocol represents a significant first step towards realizing the Convention’s goal of stabilizing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases at safe levels and called for its immediate entry into force. Furthermore, the Protocol is already changing the way we think about climate, energy and investment.

Ministers noted that economic growth and climate change policies are compatible and, if action is taken at an early stage, economic gains can be made. Implementing policies and measures such as energy-efficiency projects can help to decouple economic growth and the growth in emissions, in addition to achieving social and environmental benefits such as improved health. Intensified north-south and regional cooperation is essential, for example, in technology research, cleaner production.

Good governance and infrastructure as well as opportunities for private-sector investment are vital. So too, is choosing the best available technologies for the huge investments in electricity production that must be made over the coming two decades. Fortunately, many low-emission technologies are already available. The Protocol’s “flexible mechanisms” -- the Clean Development Mechanism, joint implementation and emission trading -- will promote technology investment and diffusion.

The formal decisions adopted by the conference will strengthen the institutional framework of both the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

New emission reporting guidelines based on the good-practice guidance provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will provide a sound and reliable foundation for reporting on changes in carbon concentrations resulting from land-use changes and forestry. These reports are due in 2005.

Another major advance is the agreement on the modalities and scope for carbonabsorbing forest-management projects in the Clean Development Mechanism. This agreement completes the package adopted in Marrakesh two years ago and expands the CDM to an additional area of activity.

Many of the discussions over the two weeks touched upon cooperation between developed and developing nations, including the funding needed for least developed countries that are most vulnerable to climate change and that need to develop and carry out effective policies. Technology transfer and capacity building are addressed in many of the decisions, and there is a clear understanding of the importance of advancing this work in partnership with the private sector.

Two funds, the Special Climate Change Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, which will support technology transfer, adaptation projects and other activities, were further developed. The European Union, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland renewed an earlier pledge to contribute 410 million USD annually to developing countries through these funds and other avenues.

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Note to journalists: For more information, contact the UNFCCC press office at +49-228-815-1005 or press@unfccc.int. See also www.unfccc.int.