Nairobi, August 2002 India's Union Cabinet took a decision earlier this month to join the 77 other countries that have already ratified the Protocol.
"I welcome this announcement on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). It shows India's faith in multilateral processes to address global environmental problems," said Mr Toepfer .
He also said that India has an important leadership role to play in the climate change process, as the host country of the Eighth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in October, and with Tata Energy Research Institute Director-General Dr RK Pachauri now chairing the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, established and supported by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation.
India emits only four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions but is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is active in the development of alternative energy sources.
Although the Protocol does not require India and other developing countries to make cuts, all parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are expected to take steps to curb greenhouse gases emissions or emissions growth.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, India would benefit from additional transfers of technology, and foreign investments in renewable energy, energy generation and efficiency promotion and afforestation projects, through the Clean Development Mechanism.
However, to come into effect the Protocol still requires ratification by more developed countries.
"WSSD provides us with an important opportunity to focus on these energy issues and to gather momentum for the necessary shift to a much less carbon-intensive economy," said Mr. Toepfer.
Beyond Johannesburg, Mr Toepfer said UNEP would continue its assessment and early warning capacity building work to identify and assist the most vulnerable sectors and communities, and to further assist education and outreach programmes on climate change.
UNEP would also assist developing countries to apply guidelines and methodologies for mitigation, vulnerability, and adaptation assessments, and will expand its Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment and Rural Energy Enterprise Development programmes.
And it would provide guidance and advice to governments on sustainable energy, to overcome policy, regulatory, and financing barriers, and strengthen information networks to help disseminate best practices and successes, Mr Toepfer said.
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UNEP Information Note 2002/25