Press Releases

                                                                                                                            22 March 2004

    Secretary-General Reiterates Call for Ratification of Kyoto Protocol on Tenth Anniversary of Climate Change Convention’s Entry into Force

    NEW YORK, 19 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 21 March 2004:

    Ten years is not long in the history of a problem whose scale is measured in centuries.  Nevertheless, significant progress has been achieved in the decade since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force.

    The issue of climate change has been placed firmly on local, national and international agendas, in the forefront of public and media scrutiny, and in the strategies of a growing number of businesses.  Institutions and processes have been put in place to enable the world’s governments to take action, to coordinate those steps, and to measure the results.  Annual meetings of the States that are party to the Convention -- now numbering 188 -- draw thousands of participants from governments, business, civil society and international organizations.

    The Convention has also served as an important market signal, helping new technologies to emerge.  For example, the use of wind energy is increasing, industrial processes are being made more efficient, hybrid vehicles are finding their way into the marketplace, and investments in breakthrough technologies involving hydrogen use and carbon capture are on the rise.  The Convention’s financial mechanism has also channelled almost $10 billion to climate change projects in poor countries, which are the most vulnerable to the impacts of the phenomenon.

    The Convention’s goal of returning the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries to their 1990 levels by the year 2000 was achieved for those countries as a whole.  However, for most individual countries, emissions of greenhouse gases are now increasing.  Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, a key measure of long-term success, have increased about 5 per cent in the past decade.  All countries must carry out more intensive efforts to limit future emissions, with developed countries taking a clear lead.  There is also a need for more concerted action to adapt to climate change, since some of its effects are by now inevitable and, indeed, we may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -- some of the devastation that lies ahead.

    This anniversary is also a moment to reiterate strong support for the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol.  The Protocol’s lack of entry into force remains a major hurdle to effective global action.  I call again on those countries that have not yet ratified the Protocol to do so, and show that they are truly committed to shouldering their global responsibilities.

    The global fight against climate change is a vast undertaking that will require sustained global citizenship and vision for decades to come.  The international community should take pride in what it has done thus far to respond to this challenge.  But only if these efforts are truly re-energized will we place our societies on more secure footing, and avert the calamities that the world’s best science tells us lie ahead if we continue on our present course.

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