Comprehending Kyoto

In the unlikely event Labour loses the election (race unrun as we go to press), then later this year Prime Minister Helen Clark, or her appointed minister, will sign New Zealand into the Kyoto Protocol at the Rio Earth Summit in Johannesburg. The Protocol – which is part of the broader Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) – has been distilled over the years and now represents minimal commitment by business to curb the activities it undertakes and which contribute to global warming. But sustainability and global warming are issues management must at worst learn to live with, or better still actively embrace. To understand the implications of the Protocol and the FCCC here’s list of some web-based information sources. This is the website for the Ministry of Economic Development and makes good starting point for getting grip on the climate change issues – which are admittedly very complex. Search for “climate change”. The site offers range of documents, reports and working papers covering the issue. The 1999 paper “Climate Change; What you Should Know” is still worth reading and has range of information sheets some specific to the Protocol, and also others looking at emissions trading and overall government policy in relation to climate change. For the avid or legally minded reader there is link to the full text of the Protocol from the site. This is the Government’s climate change website, which is also linked from the MED site. Most useful for business on this site is the “preferred policy package” which should provide you with all you need to know about where the Government is heading with this climate change issue. Cabinet papers can be read and there are number of well-summarised versions of many governmental climate change documents. The consultation summary documents make interesting reading and could be useful for keeping abreast of how the wider public feels about the climate change issue. One of the many UN websites, this URL gets you to all the latest information about what’s new in the world of climate change. Particularly useful is the June 4 posting of “New Guide to the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol”. The guide provides detailed information about what the Convention and the Protocol are, how they work (or will work), and what is the status of each following the latest round of discussion in Marrakesh. This guide is comprehensive. This is the advanced search page for the NZ Herald. Type in “Kyoto Protocol” and “business section” and select how far back you want to search. I went back year and was returned eight links pages containing related stories. Can’t vouch for the usefulness of all the material but there is sure to be some worthwhile reading here. The website for the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Click on “climate change” (which by now should be becoming custom) and you’ll find number of research papers including “Guide to Kyoto Climate Change” (although this particular paper is concerned with the impacts for Canada there is bound to be crossover of issues). Perhaps what’s most useful about this site is its extensive links page for internet resources on climate change which is very user friendly and usefully formatted. This is the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development homepage. Go to “projects” and click on… you guessed it. The site is still developing but will be worth watching on this issue, as sustainable development and climate change naturally go hand in hand. At this stage what is most useful is the outline of the “Climate Change Project Plan” the Council is involved in. This includes summary of the opportunities arising from the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol and looks like useful document in more ways than one. The NZBCSD is also involved with organising business seminars and workshops about climate change and the impact for business, so sign up for the newsletter and be kept up to date with initiatives in this area. If you want to see what the auditing protocols for the Kyoto Protocol might look like then check out this site, it’s the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, broad international coalition of businesses, non-government, government and inter-governmental organisations. It operates under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The site says “participants are working in partnership to design, disseminate and promote the use of globally applicable accounting and reporting standards for GHG emissions”.

The objective is to develop internationally accepted accounting and reporting standards for GHG emissions and promotes their use in companies and other organisations. The GHG Protocol Initiative also provides practical guidelines to help companies manage their GHG emissions.

For those working in the agricultural and forestry industries you might also like to check MAF’s website

Damon Birchfield is an Auckland-based freelance writer.
Email: [email protected]

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