European Union Agrees to Ratify Kyoto

by William Yeatman on March 5, 2002

in Kyoto Negotiations, Politics

The European Unions environment ministers agreed on March 4 to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. In 1997 the EU agreed to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases to eight percent below 1990 levels, but so far has not ratified the agreement.

Although the move is being hailed as a major step forward, “The impact of the announcement was marred when EU member governments failed to set their own emission levels to meet Kyoto targets,” according to the Guardian (March 5, 2002). “Individual targets will now be decided by the European Commission.”

The commission also took the opportunity to call for renewed U.S. participation in the Kyoto process. “By taking this decision, the EU has reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing multilateral solutions to issues of global concern,” the commission said. “The EU continues to call for the United States to participate in the global framework for addressing climate change.”

The move clears the way for the EU formally to approve Kyoto at its summit in Barcelona in a couple of weeks. As noted by Radio Free Europe (March 4, 2002), “Todays decision also commits all 15 EU member states to deposit their individual ratification instruments with the United Nations together with the communal EU decision by June 1.” It remains to be seen whether the countries will follow through with the commitment made by their respective environment ministers.

The Netherlands is the only EU country to begin the ratification process, successfully piloting Kyoto through the lower house of parliament, but still needs to push it through the upper house for full ratification. The only Annex I countries to submit their ratification instruments to the United Nations are Romania and the Czech Republic.

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