World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Update
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

30 March 2001

WCC encourages countries to continue working towards the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol despite its rejection by the Bush administration

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-00-34, 14 November 2000
cf. WCC Press Feature, Feat-00-19, 27 November 2000

"The rejection of the Kyoto Protocol by the Bush administration is a betrayal of their responsibilities as global citizens", said Dr David Hallman, the World Council of Churches (WCC) climate change programme coordinator, today in a first reaction to the decision of the US government to reject an international treaty designed to combat global warming. The United States, with 4% of the world's population, emits 25% of the global emissions that are leading to climate change.

The WCC Central Committee, meeting in Potsdam, 29 January-6 February 2001, reaffirmed its position that "industrialised countries bear the major moral responsibility for precipitating climate change and therefore must exercise leadership that results in real action to reduce the causes".

Hallman, a member of the United Church of Canada, noted that there is increasing evidence that vulnerable peoples, especially in the poorer countries, are already suffering from the impacts of human-induced climate change. He pointed to the past two years of devastating floods in Mozambique, rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands, and persistent years of drought in Africa.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientific body which advises the UN, reported earlier this year that "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities".

Hallman stated that the climate change issue will continue regardless of the recent rejection: "If the US walks away from the Kyoto Protocol, it just means that another treaty with even more ambitious targets will have to be negotiated in the future as evidence of the devastating impacts of climate change mounts. We encourage all other countries to continue working towards the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol regardless of the US action."

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.