Press Release: Thinkers and Leaders From 40 Countries Debate What's "Fair" in Fighting Climate Change

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2001

Contact: Katie Mandes, 703-919-2293 (4/17 only)
Dale Curtis, 202-246-5659
Justin Kenney, 703-283-0384 (4/18 only)

Thinkers and Leaders From 40 Countries Debate What's "Fair" in Fighting Climate Change

Jan Pronk, Sam Brownback and Robert Watson Among Featured Speakers

Washington, DC -- At a time of rising international debate over climate change, leading figures from some 40 countries gather in Washington this week to explore how nations can work together to ensure they all do their fair share in the fight against global warming.

Nearly 300 government leaders, experts, advocates and businesses are expected at a conference on Equity and Global Climate Change, sponsored by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, today and tomorrow at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington.

A central issue at the conference will be how to arrive at an international agreement that ensures fair and reasonable action by both industrialized countries, whose past emissions of greenhouse gases are largely responsible for rising global temperatures, and developing countries, whose emissions are projected to surpass those of industrialized countries by 2015-2020.

"An effective international response to climate change must be not only environmentally sound and cost-effective - it must be fair, too," said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen. "Industrialized countries must take the lead and deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But ultimately developing countries will have to step up their efforts as well. Through this conference, we hope to stimulate an honest dialogue that helps lead to climate change solutions that all parties believe are fair."

Key speakers include Jan Pronk, current chair of the UN-sponsored climate negotiations and Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment of The Netherlands, who will deliver the keynote address at lunch today (1:15 p.m.). Following the Pew conference, Pronk heads to New York to chair a meeting of environmental ministers from around the world aimed at putting international climate negotiations back on track.

Other key speakers include:

  • U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kansas - 8:30 a.m. Wed.;
  • Robert Hill, Australian Minister for Environment and Heritage - 9:15 a.m. Tues.;
  • Svend Auken, Danish Minister of Environment and Energy - 4:00 p.m. Tues.;
  • Ra·l Estrada-Oyuela, Special Representative for International Environmental Affairs of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and chair of the climate negotiations that led to the 1977 Kyoto Protocol - 8:45 a.m. Tues.;
  • Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme - 8:00 p.m. Tues.; Robert Watson, a World Bank senior official and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - 9:45 a.m. Tues.

In addition, panels will examine competing proposals for achieving equitable climate change commitments; underlying economic issues, such as competitiveness and the need for developing countries to grow their economies and address other pressing concerns; and ethical, religious, and cultural perspectives that color the climate change debate.

"There are critical differences among nations-in their economies, their historic and projected emissions, and their vulnerability to climate change impacts. Achieving equitable commitments is an extraordinary challenge," said Claussen. "But failure to do so will undermine any effort to address climate change, because an agreement that is perceived to be unfair will never be fully implemented. And that, in turn, would result in the most inequitable outcome of all: Those with the fewest resources will bear some of the most severe effects of a warming planet."

A complete conference program and keynote speeches can be found on the Pew Center website at www.c2es.org. A summary of the conference by IISD, publisher of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, will be available at the Pew site starting Friday.

The Pew Center also offers research reports on various aspects of global climate change, including the science, economics, policy solutions and international policy issues. The reports can be accessed via the Pew Center's web site.

# # #

About the Pew Center
The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of more than 30 largely Fortune 500 corporations, all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center -- it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.