Mr. Speaker, I make this Statement on the signing of the Kyoto Accord on Global Warming.
Mr. Speaker, the Kyoto accord, which aims to curb the air pollution blamed for global warming, has come into force, midnight of 16th February 2005, seven years after it was agreed. Although some key countries did not sign up to this treaty, the fact that it has come into effect is in itself welcome news, especially for Africa.
The accord requires countries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Some 141 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the treaty, which pledges to cut these emissions by 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Each country has been set its own individual targets according to its pollution levels. Fast growing developing countries such as China and India are outside the framework, a fact pointed out by US President George W. Bush in 2001. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement welcoming the treaty but also called on non-signatories to rethink. “From now, we have to build a system which more nations will work together under the common framework to stop
global warming,” he said.
Ms. Maathai, an ecologist and Kenya's Deputy Environment Minister, said the Kyoto Protocol would require not just efforts from governments and businesses, but also a change in the way people lived.
Mr. Speaker, the head of the UN Environment Programme, Klaus Toepfer, said Kyoto was only a first step and much hard work needed to be done to fight global warming and its possible effects on the world's climate. “Climate change is the spectre at the feast, capable of undermining our attempts to deliver a healthier, fairer and more resilient world,” he said. Recent projections on planet warming made terrifying reading, he said, painting a vision of a planet that is “spinning out of control”. He said it would be Africa which bore the burden of the world's failure to act and this is very disturbing news.
Whilst it is generally accepted that even for countries that have signed up to the Kyoto accord the goals could be difficult, we must all strive to hit our targets as individual countries. It is heart-warming to hear Mr. Takashi Omuru, of the Japanese Environment Ministry emphasized that “Japan will make all efforts to respect the rules of the Protocol”.
Supporters of the 141-nation pact say it is a tiny step to slow global warming by imposing legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions in 35 developed nations, mainly from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars. Climate experts fear projected temperature rises could disrupt farming, raise sea levels by melting icecaps, cause more extreme weather like hurricanes or droughts, spread diseases and wipe out thousands of animal and plant species by 2100.
Mr. Speaker, we in Ghana must add our voice to the call for other countries that have not signed up to this treaty to make all
effort to sign so that we can, together, save our planet for generations yet to come.
Mr. Speaker, coming home to Ghana we are not spared the threat of global warming and it is important we sensitize our countrymen and women, especially vehicle owners and those in business -- namely, mining industry, cement industry, et cetera to be mindful of how waste is managed.
The harm that refrigerators, especially second-hand ones, play in the consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) deserves mentioning. This sector, according to EPA source consumes as much as 98 per cent of the total ODS consumption in Ghana. It is heart- warming, though, to note that the EPA is playing its role for the Government to meet its strategic objective of phasing out the use of ODS according to the ODS phase- out schedule for Article 5 countries under the Protocol. It is important to remind Government and the business community to check the importation of second-hand refrigerators into the country.
Owners and importers of old vehicles must also play their part to reduce gas emissions into the environment. Whilst commending the current management of DVLA for the compliance of MOT regulations, I would also like to call on them to liaise with the law enforcement agencies to intensify this aspect of their work to check on the pollution from vehicles into the atmosphere. This is because ozone produced when sunlight reacts with pollutants emitted by vehicle exhausts is also a major cause of respiratory disease.