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Kyoto Protocol Completes its Rise from the Ashes

Marrakech, Morocco - As environment ministers from 160 countries agreed on rules for the Kyoto climate treaty, World Wildlife Fund called on governments today to turn the agreement into international law by next September's World Summit on Sustainable Development.

In concluding the Marrakech Accord, ministers have confounded critics of the agreement, led by the Bush Administration, which had declared the agreement "dead" earlier this spring.

"The phoenix of the Kyoto Protocol has risen in Marrakech," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF's Climate Change Campaign. "There can be no further excuse for governments to delay taking the next step of ratifying the treaty before next September's Johannesburg Summit."

Despite vigorous efforts by its opponents, the Kyoto climate treaty has bounced back from its low point in March when the Bush Administration declined to participate in negotiations. The accord maintains the essential architecture of last July's Bonn Agreement, the landmark political agreement opening the way to bringing Kyoto into force. The accord contains rules on a compliance regime with enforceable and binding consequences for countries that do not meet their Kyoto commitments. Ministers also completed the final details of the package for reporting and reviewing countries' inventories, setting in place a sound system based on IPCC methodologies.

Rules were also finalized for Joint Implementation projects under which industrialized countries will earn carbon credits by investing in cleaner technologies in each other's countries. Similarly, ministers concluded the rules for the Clean Development Mechanism, which will commence almost immediately. Today's agreement also formalizes the pledge made in Bonn channeling an additional Euro 450 million annually to developing countries from 2005.

WWF is concerned, however, that ministers failed to include a terms of reference for the work program for sinks in the CDM and included more carbon credits for forest management carbon in Russia. Nonetheless, WWF believes that the missing safeguards will have no fundamental impact on the overall emissions target of the Protocol.

In response to the weaknesses of the Protocol, environmental groups vowed in Marrakech to prevent damaging projects from going ahead that exploit loopholes already written into the Protocol. WWF's focus will now shift to widening business and public involvement in measures that achieve Kyoto's emission reduction goals, placing the emphasis on an enormous range of a string of cost-effective domestic actions.

The Czech Republic has recently joined Romania in having ratified Kyoto. New Zealand - previously a critic of key aspects of Kyoto - was among countries announcing in Marrakech that it would ratify the treaty.

"The Kyoto Protocol was ready for ratification after July's Bonn Agreement," said Morgan. "The Marrakech accord takes it a significant step farther forward and sends an even stronger signal to the shrinking ranks of doubters in politics and in business to join in tackling global warming."