Umbrella Folds - Sun Creeps Up On Marrakech Climate Deal

November 10, 2001

Friends of the Earth gave a cautious welcome to the agreement adopted today in Marrakech - despite coordinated and persistent obstruction by Japan, Canada and Russia (the Umbrella Group).

The Marrakech deal preserves major elements of the Bonn Agreement made in July, providing no reason for countries not to go ahead and ratify the Kyoto Protocol - and leaving America isolated in its refusal to face up to climate change.

The deal successfully secures the compliance regime outlined in the Bonn agreement, providing the Kyoto Protocol with a strong enforcement system that includes penalties and international oversight. Unfortunately, under the Marrakech deal, the link between the compliance regime and eligibility to participate in carbon trading is weak, but it remains part of the compliance package.

The deal fudges rules on the use of sinks. Domestic sink credits must be reported annually and have a special classification, guaranteeing transparency, but the quality of reporting on domestic sinks is not an eligibility criterion. Russia has won a near doubling of its domestic sinks allowance. Due to the contraction of its economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia already has a vast surplus of emissions credits to sell, so-called 'hot air' and these new credits may flood the system.

Sinks projects in developing countries will start soon but will be covered by special rules, the terms of reference for which will be defined at a workshop to be held before the next set of negotiations in 2002. Given the negative impacts of monoculture plantations on the environment, local communities and indigenous people, it is crucial that these rules are based on sound science, are transparent and guarantee adequate consultation and public participation.

The talks failed to set out a road map for future negotations or request action to promote renewable energy worldwide in a statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in 2002. This is disappointing given the significance of climate change to sustainable development. The impacts of climate change are already adversely affecting many poor communities around the world, increasing global inequality. It is crucial that these impacts are considered within the wider context of sustainable development.

Kate Hampton, Friends of the Earth International's Climate Coordinator, said:

"Governments have no choice but to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The science is stark - drastic future cuts in emissions are vital to prevent dangerous climate change and this agreement is only the beginning. We will hold countries to their commitments and fight the use of treaty loopholes country by country. Nine years after the Rio Summit, Ministers have let the world down by failing to address the real issues in the message they are sending to Johannesburg."

For further information contact:

Kate Hampton
FOEI International Climate Coordinator
Ph: +44 774 896 7323

Helen Burley
FOEI Press
Ph: +44 7778 356888