India to Welcome Climate Change Delegates

NEW DELHI, India, September 30, 2002 (ENS) - The next step in global action to deal with a warming climate will be taken in New Delhi in October when the 186 countries that are Parties to the United Nations climate treaty meet to prepare for the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

The government of India and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed today a Host Country Agreement that finalized practical arrangements for the high-level conference on global warming. It will be held at the Vigyan Bhawan Conference Centre in New Delhi from October 23 to November 1.

T.R. Baalu, India's minister of environment and forests signed the HCA for the host government. Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, signed on behalf of the secretariat.


Joke Waller-Hunter of the Netherlands is executive secretary of the UNFCCC. (Photo courtesy IISD-ENB)
"India has a leadership role to play in the climate change arena," said Waller-Hunter, "and we are extremely pleased to have been invited this year to the vibrant city of New Delhi for our annual meeting. In return, I hope the people of India will benefit from news about our meeting and that they will gain a greater understanding of climate change and its importance for their future."

The conference, known officially as the 8th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention, is expected to attract some 5,000 participants, including over 100 ministers, from the Convention's 186 Parties.

A high-level segment will take place from October 30 to November 1. It will be opened by the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and attended by ministers and senior officials.

The international community will use the meeting to prepare for the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

The protocol, an international agreement under the UNFCCC, limits the emission of six greenhouse gases by 37 industrialized nations.

As signed in Kyoto in 1997, the protocol covered 39 nations, but the United States, which produces some 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, and Australia, which would have been allowed to increase its emissions by eight percent, have decided not to ratify the agreement.

The protocol will not enter into force until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at least 55 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions for 1990.

On September 12, Peru became the latest country to deposit its instrument of ratification to the Kyoto Protocol. The total number of ratifications, accessions, and acceptances now stands at 94, representing 37.1 percent of emissions.

The European Union and Japan ratified the protocol earlier this year.

Canada has not yet decided whether or not it will ratify. Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson pledged at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that his government would submit the protocol to Parliament before the end of this year.

Other industrialized nations covered by the protocol that still must decide on ratification include: Croatia, Estonia, Lichtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine.


Indian Minister of Environment and Forests T.R. Baalu
(Photo courtesy Government of India)
India is not on the list of 37 nations that must limit their emissions. India has neither signed nor ratified, but on August 26, acceded to the protocol thereby accepting the opportunity to become a party to the treaty already negotiated and signed by other states. It has the same legal effect as ratification.

The other two major developing nations that emit large amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases - Brazil and China - have both signed and ratified the protocol.

The protocol contains legally binding targets by which developed countries must reduce their combined emissions of six key greenhouse gases by at least five percent by the period 2008-2012, calculated as an average over those five years.

Cuts in the three most important gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide will be measured primarily against a base year of 1990.

Cuts in three long lived industrial gases hydroflourocarbons, perflourocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride can be measured against either a 1990 or 1995 baseline.

By reducing greenhouse gas emissions to percent below 1990 levels, the protocol will result in 2010 emissions levels that are approximately 20 percent below what they would have been in the absence of the protocol.

Greenhouse gas emission limits for developing countries will be addressed at future negotiations of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

Delegates to the conference in New Delhi will focus on key concerns of developing countries, such as how to gain better access to low emitting technologies and how to cope with the expected impacts of climate change.

The relationship between efforts to protect the statospheric ozone layer and efforts to safeguard the global climate system will be a topic of discussion.