Don't sink the climate treaty!

Members of Birmingham Friends of the Earth will be travelling to Bonn on Friday, to join thousands of other activists from many different organisations – including Greenpeace, Rising Tide and the WWF – for the Kyoto Protocol climate talks. On Saturday, they will build a climate lifeboat from shards of wood brought from all over the world. In a procession of at least 6,000 people, the boat will be dragged to the conference centre and left there as a warning to the assembled governments: Don't sink the climate treaty!

Climate change is the most severe environmental threat facing our world. Scientists believe that the world is heating up, and could warm by as much as 5C over the next hundred years. As well as drastically changing local climates across the globe and widening the world's uninhabitable desert zones, the heat is melting ice at the poles, raising the levels of the sea – threatening coastal areas all over the world, including around the UK. The consensus is that these changes are driven by our production of C02, from burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas & petrol. There are several other contributing gases released by human activity, some of them (such as the Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs) as much as 1100 times more damaging than C02.

At Bonn, most of the governments of the world will be pressing for internationally binding agreements to reduce C02 and other greenhouse gas emissions, under the Kyoto protocol. Some, however, will be looking to weaken their commitment or even to abandon the process altogether. Above all, the US – the globe's biggest polluter, producing 20% of the world's C02 emissions from only 5% of the global population – has already unilaterally refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

Friends of the Earth wants:

• Rules to implement the Kyoto Protocol that establish an effective international climate regime based on binding, verifiable and enforceable emissions limits.

• To prevent the Kyoto targets from being weakened, strict limits must be imposed on countries' use of sinks and flexibility mechanisms.

• Measures taken to cut emissions without creating other environmental and social ills – such as the displacement of indigenous people and local communities, loss of biodiversity or an increase in nuclear waste.

• COP6 (Conference of the Parties) and the instruments it establishes to deliver an immediate acceleration in the transfer and deployment of clean technologies and know-how to developing countries

• Protocol rules to support the highest standards of public participation and transparency.

• Industrialised countries to agree to pay compensation to developing countries for climate change, through increased adaptation funds and additional aid for climate-related emergencies.

Andy Pryke of Birmingham FOE said:

"I think this is an incredibly important issue for all of our futures – so important, in fact, that I will be spending my birthday demonstrating to save the climate!"

Editor's Notes