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Negotiations Friday, 5 November

"Humanity will not forgive us if we fail" - UNFCCC COP-5 President

With a warning that "humanity will not forgive us if we fail" President Jan Szyzsko of Poland brought the fifth Conference of the Parties to a close Friday. The Conference was marked by what the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Michael Zammit Cutajar, described as an "unexpected mood of optimism". He said the Parties now face their own 'Y2K challenge': namely the achievement of a successful COP-6 where Parties adopt key decisions mandated by the Buenos Aires Action Plan and move to early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

Ministers and officials from 166 governments concluded two weeks of climate change negotiations that centered on enabling decisions and a timetable for completing the outstanding details of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by COP-6 from 13-24 November 2000 in the Hague. A number of countries, echoing German Chancellor Gerhard Schr÷der's call at the opening Plenary, are seeking early ratification, possibly by the tenth anniversary of the 'Earth Summit' (UNCED) in 2002. The NGO community played a key role in lobbying governments, at home and at the COP, to adopt the 2002 deadline. The Hague COP will be preceded by two one-week rounds of talks in the two subsidiary bodies, from 12-16 June and from 11-15 September. Each session will be preceded by one week of informal talks and workshops.

Executive Secretary Zammit Cutajar, commenting after the close of the COP, said: "The political atmospherics were good - better than expected. The engagement of ministers made a difference, and there were some encouraging technical decisions. The Protocol will only enter into force and become legally binding when at least 55 countries, including developed country Parties accounting for at least 55% of developed country emissions, have ratified. To date only 16 countries - all from the developing world - have ratified. Eighty-three countries and the European Union have taken the initial step of adding their signature to the agreement.

COP-5 defers decisions on Kazakhstan and Turkey
At the closing meeting of COP-5 President Jan Szyszko reported that he had failed to find a consensus among the Parties on a number of outstanding issues during consultations he conducted during the Conference. The unresolved issues include Kazakhstan's proposed amendment to add its name to the list in Annex l. The decision was deferred. He reported reluctance among the Parties to put a decision to the vote at this stage. Kazakhstan acknowledged proposals that it use UNFCCC Article 4.2(g) as an alternative approach to taking on Annex I commitments. The President also deferred a decision on a proposal to remove Turkey from the lists in Annex I and Annex II. Right: Irina Yesserkepova, Scientific and Research Institute for Environment and Climate Monitoring, and Bulat Esekin, National Environment Center for Sustainable Development, Kazakhstan.

Small Island States deeply disappointed at deferral of COP's consideration of UNFCCC Article 4.2 (a) and (b) on adequacy of commitments
The President's consultations also failed to find agreement on an Agenda Item (#5) dealing with the UNFCCC Article on the Second Review of the Adequacy of Commitments. The Item was left in abeyance after the G-77/China proposed amending the Item to read: "Review of the adequacy of implementation of Article 4.2 (a) and (b)." The amendment will be recorded in a footnote in the Provisional Agenda for COP-5.

The Alliance of Small Island States expressed deep disappointment at the President's decision. Espen R°nneberg, on behalf of AOSIS, said the Article was a central consideration and integral to the balance of the Convention. AOSIS' concern had been made more serious by the absence of a procedure to deal with the issue. He continued: "The absence of such a procedure does not release the Annex-I Parties from their obligations, nor does it excuse the COP from its constitutional duty to carry out this review. AOSIS is disappointed that we are not seeing adequate or even demonstrable progress in terms of long-term emissions trends and towards the objective of the Convention. Further delay in taking action will make our prospects for survival even more tenuous."

The G-77/China amendment sought to address concerns about the implications for developing countries if some Parties concluded that the current commitments in Article 4.2 (a) and (b) is inadequate due to its limited scope i.e. they apply only to Annex I Parties. The amendment would have succeeded in shifting the terms of reference for the debate on Article 4.2 (a) and (b) from a focus on 'adequacy of commitments' per se to a debate on the historical performance of Annex I Parties in implementing their commitments. Right: The G-77/China's Allison Drayton, Guyana, waves her flag to attract the President's attention

The European Union acknowledged that the commitments contained in Article 4.2 (a) and (b) are not enough to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention. She said Article 4.2 (d) provides a mechanism for regular review, by which the distance between commitments and the ultimate objective of the Convention can be measured and appropriate action taken. She added: "The EU would like to point out that the question of actual implementation falls under the review covered by Article 7.2, and not under the review of Article 4.2 (a) and (b). It is our view therefore, that the question whether Parties are meeting - or will meet - present commitments needs to be kept separate from whether the commitments themselves are adequate."

Note: RealVideo of statements made in Plenary are available from the Video Archive of the UNFCCC's Video-on-demand service

Closing Plenary

 

Michael Zammit Cutajar, UNFFCCC Executive Secretary announces the appointment of Tahar Hadj-Sadok as UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary and the retirement of Sally Ottone, Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary.

Tahar Hadj-Sadok, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary

Zammit Cutajar with Sally Ottone, outgoing Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary

   

COP President Jan Szyszko gavels COP-5 to close at 12:50 p.m. In his closing remarks, the President said: "Humanity will not forgive us if we fail."

 


Peter Doran's Commentary:

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