Nairobi, 5 June 2009 - Three countries have pledged to promote low-carbon, green growth by joining the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) - an initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote global action to de-carbonize our economies and societies.
Ethiopia, Pakistan and Portugal are the latest nations to join the CN Net initiative, bringing the total number of countries that are going low-carbon or even climate neutral to ten. These ten countries have a combined population of over 266 million and cover the land area roughly the size of Argentina or two percent of the world's terrestrial surface.
The announcement was made on World Environment Day (WED) which this year is held under the theme "Your Planet Needs You! Unite to Combat Climate Change".
While the main WED activities are taking place in this year's host country, Mexico, celebrations are being organized worldwide - from remote villages to sprawling capitals - making it a truly global event
Welcoming the new CN Net participants, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "From setting world tree planting records to taking full advantage of the abundant sun, waves and winds to promoting carbon finance investments, the three new countries joining the Climate Neutral Network are offering diverse and innovative strategies to combat climate change and benefit from low-carbon, green development and growth."
"However, these strategies will only succeed in the long-term if the international community sends the right policy and market signals for climate-friendly development. This year's World Environment Day comes just over 180 days before the UN climate convention meeting in Denmark where governments need to agree on a new, forward-looking climate treaty. By Sealing the Deal on a new climate agreement in Copenhagen, world leaders will be delivering perhaps the most transformational and far-reaching stimulus package of them all, now and for the coming decades," Mr. Steiner added.
Innovative national strategies
Ethiopia is the first African country to join the Climate Neutral Network. While the nation is not a net contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, it has expressed its commitment to mitigating climate change.
Ethiopia is an active supporter of UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign, contributing more trees than any other nation - over one billion - towards the global target of planting seven billion trees by the crucial UN climate change conference in December 2009.
Furthermore, through Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the Government is distributing 5.4 million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) - commonly known as "energy savers" - country-wide to help consumers save money on electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
Pakistan is coming on board the CN Net with a vision of making the country a destination of choice for international carbon finance investments and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. Already, CDM projects ranging from biogas co-generation to energy and fuel efficiency are being implemented nation-wide.
The Government of Pakistan has also set the 10% target for renewable energy by 2015 and established the Alternate Energy Development Board to spearhead this effort.
Portugal is the first EU member state to join the Climate Neutral Network. The country expects to generate 31% of all its energy from clean sources by 2020, including 60% of electricity; and its renewable energy plans include the world's largest wind, wave and solar energy facilities.
National policies to promote renewable energies include investment subsidies, tax breaks and fixed feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic, wave energy, small hydro, wind power, forest biomass, urban waste and biogas.
Cities, companies join CN Net
The Mexican city of Aguascalientes, the Portuguese municipality of Cascais and the Brazilian city of Niterói have also come on board the Network.
Taking its name from the abundant hot thermal springs found in the area, Aguascalientes has embarked on an ambitious strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which includes upgrading cycling lanes and suburban trains, switching public lighting to solar power and capturing methane from landfills to produce biogas.
Cascais, a small municipality outside Lisbon, has committed to making itself carbon neutral. As part of this effort, twenty-five municipal buildings are subject to real-time monitoring of energy flows. Cascais will also be the focus of a rigorous scientific study to examine how climate change may affect water resources, coastal zones, fisheries, agriculture, human health and impacts on tourism, energy, forestry and biodiversity.
The Brazilian municipality of Niterói is the first city in South America to join the CN Net. Located just across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro, the city has a population of 500,000. The municipality is taking the issue of climate change as a priority and has set targets in the areas of transport, energy and waste.
In addition, two high-tech giants - Dell and Cable & Wireless - are among the new private sector companies joining the CN Net with plans to green the ICT sector, which accounts for roughly two percent of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has a significant potential to use ICT solutions to reduce GHG emissions from other sectors.
Notes to Editors
About World Environment Day 2009
World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The theme for WED 2009 is "Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change". It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 190 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.
About Climate Neutral Network
Launched in February 2008, the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) is a high-profile outreach initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to catalyze global transition to low-carbon economies and societies. Today, the CN Net counts close to 150 participants, including ten countries, 12 cities, major international companies, UN agencies and leading NGOs who have set the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the world. Based on a free of charge, interactive website, the CN Net gives participants a platform to present their strategies in climate neutrality to the world, providing visibility and inspiration to others. It functions as a network for information exchange and sharing of practical experiences, making the best available knowledge on climate neutrality widely available to all. CN Net participants are already achieving significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. As the Network grows and expands, so will its contribution to global efforts to combat climate change. http://www.unep.org/climateneutral
For more information contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when traveling: +41 795965737, or e-mail: email@example.com
Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, Climate Neutral Network, on Tel: +254 20 762 4387, Mobile: +254 721 847 563, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.unep.org/climateneutral