UNEP Enacts Kyoto Compliance Rules

March 6, 2006


The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has formally launched a compliance system for the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The system applies to those countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol, but does not affect the U.S., China, India or other countries that have failed to ratify the pact.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commented: “Climate change is the most serious challenge facing the world and the Kyoto Protocol is the internationally agreed mechanism for averting it”.

The regulatory system contains both an enforcement branch and a facilitative branch. The enforcement wing has the power to decide on the consequences for countries encountering difficulties in meeting their commitments by 2012. The other branch is designed to promote compliance by offering countries advice and assistance.

“Kyoto has many carrots including the chance for developed nations to offset some of their emissions in developing countries through tree planting and renewable energy schemes, up to participating in the emerging carbon trading markets,” Toepfer continued. “With today’s announcement, the Protocol also has teeth, as befits a legally binding treaty. This in turn adds to the integrity of Kyoto and its provisions, in particular the credibility of the emissions trading markets.”

Toepfer wished Ambassador Raúl Estrada Oyuela of Argentina, chair of the Committee’s enforcement branch, and Hironori Hamanaka of Japan every success and a “not too busy time”. He also noted that the “signs of climate change are all around us, from the melting of the Arctic and the glaciers up to extreme weather events and the migration of species. I sincerely believe that the world is no longer in any doubt that climate change is real and that the targets set under Kyoto are modest and doable—that few if any will be bothering Ambassador Estrada or Mr. Hamanaka over the next six years”.

The announcement precedes a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – http://www.ipcc.ch. – that is expected to be released by the end of March. Early reports indicate that the IPCC’s assessment will present the strongest evidence yet of the link between climate change, global warming, and the emission of greenhouse gasses, mainly CO2.

The consequent disruption of normal weather patterns is being taken increasingly seriously by the insurance and reinsurance industries, who have come to realize that more frequent and more violent weather events could result in a lot more claims and higher losses.

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