| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 2, 2006
Contact: Julie Teel, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 990-2999
U.S. in Violation of International Climate Change Treaty
State Department Petitioned to Issue Missing Climate Report
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace today petitioned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to produce the overdue U.S. Climate Action Report as required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The deadline for the fourth U.S. Climate Action Report passed on January 1, 2006 – more than 11 months ago. Now the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from November 6-17 without required information from the U.S.
“As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and a non-party to the Kyoto Protocol, you would think that the U.S. could at least meet its modest commitment to issue a timely Climate Action Report,” stated Julie Teel, a staff attorney in the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate, Air and Energy Program. “With the daily influx of new scientific and economic data highlighting the urgency of immediate action to address climate change, the Bush administration’s failure to take even this meager step in the right direction is an indicator of just how far out of step it is with the desire of the majority of Americans to do something about global warming.”
The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that prevents the most dangerous effects of climate change. Article 2 of the Convention specifies that such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, ensure that food production is not threatened, and enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
To reach this objective, the U.S. and other parties to the UNFCCC are required to adopt measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove greenhouse gas “sinks.” The parties must also prepare a vulnerability assessment and ensure that adequate adaptation measures are in place to alleviate the inevitable, looming effects of climate change.
To measure progress toward the treaty’s objective, parties to the convention are required to submit periodic reports on their policies and measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
As of April 2005, it appeared that the U.S. report would be on track. At that time, the State Department published a notice of preparation for the fourth U.S. Climate Action Report, anticipating that a draft would be available for public review by the summer of 2005, with a final issued shortly thereafter. However, there has been no sign or word of the report since the State Department issued the Notice of Preparation 18 months ago.
In an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late September, Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, and colleagues defined “dangerous climate change” as an additional 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warming beyond the approximately 0.7 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) that we are already experiencing due to society’s production of greenhouse gases. Warming above this level, the experts conclude, will commit the world to disastrous climate change as measured by sea level rise and species extinction. Furthermore, just 10 additional years of current worldwide emissions would raise atmospheric greenhouse gas levels so high that we will be unable to avoid this amount of warming. A third of all species on the planet may be committed to extinction by the year 2050 if emissions are not reduced.
”The Bush administration’s continued attempts to derail progress on global warming is profoundly unfair to the majority of Americans wanting to address this urgent threat,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center’s Climate, Air, and Energy Program. “With only a decade left to avert climate chaos, the American people must hold this administration accountable for its dangerous and irresponsible actions.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.