Litigation Warms Up Climate Talks

December 15, 2004

Litigation Warms Up Climate Talks

Friends of the Earth International

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 14, 2004 -- Legal cases to combat climate change are not on the official agenda of the United Nations (UN) talks on Climate Change in Buenos Aires where ministers representing 189 nations meet December 15-17. But they are a hot issue behind the scenes.

Ten legal actions so far have been announced around the world against governments and companies, under several different legal theories in order to combat climate change. These legal actions are supported by the strong growing scientific consensus on climate change. (1)

"European countries must show greater leadership in fighting climate change. We will see a much longer queue of affected communities using the courts for compensation and justice unless we see deep cuts in
emissions," said Catherine Pearce of Friends of the Earth International in Buenos Aires.

This is the first Climate Change meeting since Russian ratification of the Kyoto Climate Protocol, the only international treaty aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. The treaty will enter into force upon its 128 Parties on 16 February 2005 when thirty industrialised nations will be legally bound to meet quantitative targets for reducing or limiting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world with increasing severity. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Friends of the Earth believes the Kyoto Protocol is only the first step in tackling climate change.

There is an urgent need for industrialized countries to move forward with greater emissions cuts and go beyond commitments agreed under the Kyoto treaty.

Note to Editors

(1) Science magazine Dec. 3, 2004 vol 306 "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change"