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Montreal deal is an historic step forward - Friends of the Earth

10 Dec 2005

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the outcome of the UN climate talks as an historic step forward. The Montreal Action Plan (MAP) was concluded despite a last minute intervention from Russia which almost resulted in deadlock.

Friends of the Earth Director in Ireland, Oisin Coghlan said:

"Despite Russia's last minute jitters, this meeting has made a historic agreement which will strengthen global resolve with legally-binding targets to take action to tackle climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It has sent a clear signal that the future lies in cleaner and more sustainable technologies and is good news for people and the planet.".

Negotiators worked through Friday night to reach a progressive agreement under the Kyoto Protocol, which will lead to deeper emissions cuts in the next commitment period, which starts in 2013. This Kyoto deal initiates crucial negotiations on legally binding targets for industrialised countries and also sets in motion a wider review of the entire regime involving all countries, due to be discussed at talks next year.

Friends of the Earth International Climate Change Campaigner Catherine Pearce said:

"Scientific evidence clearly demands urgent action to cut the pollution that is warming our world. The international community has wisely taken these warnings seriously by agreeing to further action. This is a clear signal that the Kyoto agreement is alive and well. Leaders have shown that much-needed progress can be made. The Government of Canada deserves real praise for the role it played in making the Montreal meeting a success."

Agreement was also reached under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which includes the US which is not a party to Kyoto, to dialogue and analysis on how to tackle climate change long term but not to agree binding commitments.

Mr Coghlan added:

"We expected more progress under the Convention, but the US administration effectively forced the rest of the world to bend over backwards to keep them on board. The result is a very weak deal."

Late night drama (Thursday) saw the United States delegation leave the talks, in an effort to collapse negotiations under both the UN Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. On Friday further attempts to block progress saw the United States delegation table new draft text, further diluting the meaning of the deal. But strong leadership from the Canadian President and clear resolve from other countries, including Britain, Japan and major developing countries, particularly Brazil and South Africa, made progress possible.

Countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol (all major industrialised and developing countries, except the USA and Australia) have agreed to ensure new targets on cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will be in place to immediately follow the first commitment phase in 2012. Rules governing the Kyoto Protocol's operation (the Marrakesh Accords) were agreed in Montreal, including the legally binding nature of the regime. Countries also agreed to a review of both the Kyoto Protocol and Framework Convention to start next year.

An agreement was also reached on reform of the "Clean Development Mechanism" (the mechanism allowing industrialised countries to claim carbon credits by investing in clean energy projects in the developing world). But concerns remain about what this includes and what will be delivered.

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