US isolated in Kyoto Protocol negotiations after latest ministerial meeting

Posted on 23 April 2001
New York, 21 April: Over 40 environment ministers met in New York, US today to continue discussions on the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting was called by Minister Jan Pronk, Environment Minister of The Netherlands who is the current President of the Climate Change negotiations. Minister Pronk released a new negotiating text last week that was the basis of the discussion today. The United States was the only country, besides Saudi Arabia, that stated its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. All other countries were prepared to move ahead with the current negotiations.

"Today�s meeting reaffirms that the United States is isolated in its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, joined only by Saudi Arabia," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF�s Climate Change Campaign. "This common position by the US and Saudi Arabia makes it very clear what is driving US climate policy � fossil fuel special interests."

The position of the US stated today is consistent with a leaked cable from Secretary of State Colin Powell on 2 April to US missions around the world. In that memo, Secretary Powell states that the US opposes the Kyoto Protocol "under any circumstances". The memo also attempts to make the case that "Parties to international climate talks are a long way from an agreement" and that "these points are not meant to suggest we are interested in negotiating over the Kyoto Protocol." Saturday�s meeting reaffirms US opposition but clearly contradicts the move by the US to characterize other countries as a long way from an agreement.

"It is clear that the rest of the world is prepared to continue negotiations to curb global warming," said Morgan. "WWF urges all countries to move forward vigorously to ensure that the US does not block finalization of the Kyoto Protocol this July in Bonn, Germany."

The next official round of negotiations will take place the last two weeks in July in Bonn, with potential informal Ministerial meetings organized by Minister Pronk before then.

Contact: Jennifer Morgan, Director, WWF Climate Change Campaign. Tel(mobile): +1 202 359 2734. E-mail: jennifer.morgan@wwfus.org