Four countries, four cities and five corporations have become the first to sign on to a new United Nations Internet-based scheme in a bid to hasten climate neutrality.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with the cooperation of the UN Environment Management Group, today launched the Climate Neutral Network (CN NET), a new weapon to tackle the challenge of rising greenhouse gases. The initiative will complement the process currently under way to negotiate a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, which itself will achieve climate neutrality this year.

“The CN Net can assist in building confidence through demonstrable action at the national and local level on the art of the possible,” he noted. The new programme will highlight the plans, strategies and successes of participants and also seeks to act as a forum to impart information to those aspiring to climate neutrality. The countries – Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway – along with the four cities and five companies taking part, are expected to be joined over the coming months by intergovernmental organizations, civil society groups and even individuals.

“The CN Net is also in for the long haul and equally aimed at mobilizing a broad-based response demonstrating that a transition to a low, even zero, carbon future can be a reality if inspiring and practical actions can be federated around the world,” Mr. Steiner observed. Costa Rica has set 2021, the 200th anniversary of its independence, as the target date for climate neutrality and Norway has pushed up its deadline by two decades to 2030. Iceland seeks to slash its emissions by three-quarters by 2050, while New Zealand is endeavouring to generate 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025 and halve its per capita transport emissions by 2040 through electric cars and biofuel use.

The cities taking part in CN Net are Arendal, Norway; Rizhao, China; Vancouver, Canada; and Växjö, Sweden, and the participating corporations are Co-operative Financial Services (United Kingdom), Interface Inc. (United States), Natura (Brazil), Nedbank (South Africa) and Senoko Power (Singapore). Today’s launch took place during UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which ends tomorrow in Monaco.

Focusing on the theme “Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge,” it is the largest gathering of environment ministers since last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, which ended with 187 countries agreeing to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol.


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