Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 12 No. 91
November 06 1998
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE UNFCCC FOURTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
5 NOVEMBER 1998
Delegates considered preparations for the first session of
the Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties
to the Protocol (COP/MOP-1) in a joint plenary session. The
Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)
discussed research and systematic observation and other matters.
In the afternoon and evening, contact groups discussed non-Annex
I communications, technology transfer, FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9
(adverse effects on developing countries), the financial
mechanism and Articles 4.2(a) and (b) (review of commitments).
JOINT SBSTA/SBI PLENARY
The SBI and SBSTA discussed preparations for the first
session of the Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of
the Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP-1). The Chairs introduced
their draft decision (FCCC/CP/1998/3) and invited comment. SAUDI
ARABIA said preparations were needed for all Protocol articles,
not just the flexibility mechanisms. He stressed that Protocol
Articles 3.14 and 2.3 (minimization of adverse effects on
developing countries) had not been adequately addressed. He
suggested convening a separate contact group, discussing the
issues in the contact group on FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 or in
the one on flexibility mechanisms. VENEZUELA, BANGLADESH, UNITED
ARAB EMIRATES, IRAN, SYRIA, KUWAIT, LEBANON, NIGERIA, GAMBIA,
ECUADOR, ALGERIA, MOROCCO and INDONESIA supported SAUDI ARABIA.
SWITZERLAND supported the draft decision but suggested
possible amendments to the timeframe and scope of work. The US
proposed amending the decision to reflect the differing legal
status of the Convention and the Protocol. The EU, supported by
MONACO, noted the need to specify ways to facilitate cooperation
and stressed coordination of IPCC and FCCC activities through a
joint working group. He proposed establishing a compliance
mechanism and scheduling a meeting for early 1999. JAPAN noted
the need for time for consultation and difficulties in combining
ongoing work under the FCCC and the Protocol. He opposed
deadlines for setting compliance procedures until the mechanisms
were elaborated. CANADA called for a balance between the
Convention and the Protocol and said Protocol issues need
attention so that Parties will ratify it.
The Chair said Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14 were within the
scope of the contact groups work and the group would determine
its own agenda. KUWAIT, NIGERIA and SAUDI ARABIA sought a clear
mandate for the contact group to consider Articles 2.3 and 3.14.
The US, JAPAN and AUSTRALIA said decision 3/CP.3, which
specified the mandate of the contact group, did not require
specific consideration of Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14. The EU
said the issue merited discussion but it was unnecessary to
highlight specific articles.
The Chair said no separate contact groups would be
established. SAUDI ARABIA called for a work plan and timeline on
Article 3.14 for COP/MOP 1, and said that progress on Article
3.14 should follow an approach similar to Protocol Articles 6,
12 and 17 (flexibility mechanisms). The Chair indicated that no
work plan or timetable for any of the articles in question would
be developed, but these items will be explored because they are
linked. Espen Rønneberg (Marshall Islands) will consult on
preparatory issues to COP/MOP-1.
The discussion on research and systematic observation was
continued from the previous day (FCCC/CP/1998/7 and
FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.2). Parties indicated the value of the GCOS
Report and the significance of its work. As a result, Parties
called for expansion of research and systematic observation,
many highlighting the need to focus research and systematic
observation systems on developing countries and issues that were
relevant to them to combat the deterioration of these systems.
MAURITIUS, TANZANIA and SAUDI ARABIA called on the subsidiary
bodies to instruct the GEF to provide funding for research and
systematic observations in developing countries.
Chair Chow explained that the methodological issues relating
to Annex I national communications will be discussed at an
expert workshop to be held in December by the Secretariat
(FCCC/SBSTA/1998/7, FCCC/SBSTA/1998/8 FCCC/SBSTA/1998/Misc.6 and
ADD.1). The Secretariat provided a background to these issues,
explained work conducted and previous meetings held, and
described the plan for development of appropriate guidelines.
The conclusions of the workshop will be discussed in SBSTA-10.
John Christensen (UNEP) provided a background to an
international collaborative report on methodological issues. The
US called for the resolution of issues and expected to use them
to develop guidelines and national measurement systems that
could be ratified by COP-6. The US proposed that the December
workshop consider methodological, reporting, review and
assessment issues. NORWAY sought continual re-evaluation of
inventory data including base years as methodologies improve.
Chairman Chow proposed that he prepare a draft decision for
consideration by SBSTA.
With SWITZERLAND, the EU recognized that there is a link
between the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. He requested the
subsidiary bodies to provide a list of available technologies to
limit and reduce emissions of HFCs and PFCs. The US, with
AUSTRALIA, said there should be coordination between
international environmental agreements, but the process required
careful consideration given the possible implication on
industry. He proposed that SBSTA consider the impact of the
phase out of substances covered under the Montreal Protocol and
asked that they consult with that body. Chairman Chow proposed
that he hold consultations on this matter.
The contact group on the implementation of Article 4(8) and
(9) (adverse effects on developing countries), chaired by Bo
Kjellen (Sweden) and Mohammad Reza Salamat (Iran) met to discuss
a non-paper prepared by the Chairs. The G-77/CHINA suggested
requesting the Annex I Parties to include information on
possible impacts in their national communications. Discussion
revolved around inter alia: the need for information on the
adverse effects of climate change and the impacts of response
measures; the nature of information needed; the party
responsible for providing the information; and the right forum
to present the information. SAUDI ARABIA, LIBYA and other
developing countries stressed that information be provided by
Parties that had capacity and resources. The US, with JAPAN,
CANADA and others, objected to the proposal, as it was
impractical if not impossible to assess impacts outside their
borders. The Chairs took the views of Parties under advisement.
The contact group on the financial mechanism, chaired by John
Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and Dan Reifsnyder (US), met briefly.
The contact group focused on procedural matters that would
enable a decision to be reached. The G-77/CHINA, after
considering comments to their initial proposal presented in the
previous meeting, outlined two new proposals on the substantive
issues, namely: the status of and guidance to the Global
Environmental Facility. These documents will be considered in a
series of contact group meetings over the next few days.
As of 9:00 pm, the contact group considering the review of
Convention Article 4.2 (a) and (b), chaired by Jennifer Irish
(Canada) and Margaret Mukahanana (Zimbabwe), was still meeting.
The negotiations remained focused on establishing the approach
to preparing a draft statement which, according to Article 4.2
(d) of the Convention, needs to be reached by 31 December 1998.
Developing country Parties insisted that a draft decision
provided by the G-77/CHINA provide the basis for the group's
deliberation. Other countries stated that a document, which
compiled a range of submissions to the Secretariat following the
June subsidiary body meetings, should serve as the core text for
The Contact group on technology discussed technology transfer
issues and a draft decision for the COP. Three draft decisions
proposed by the US, G-77/China and the EU
(FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.5/Add.3) were circulated. The US said
communications between Parties were hindered by the differing
conceptual understandings of the issues. He said that technology
transfer should be based on country specific needs and proposed
that reference be made to successful programmes. He supported
the Secretariat's proposal for a consultative process that would
facilitate dialogue between Parties. The G-77/China proposal
focused on identifying means of linking the issues and providing
an interface between the providers of technology and the
recipients. It proposed a technology transfer mechanism (TTM)
to assist developing country Parties to obtain their needed
environmentally sound technologies and know-how conducive to
addressing climate change on non-commercial and preferential
terms and thus contribute to the ultimate objective of the
convention. There was consensus on the capacity building
section of the G-77/China proposal, which called for efforts to
enhance endogenous capacities and provide enabling environments.
The US opposed the reference to non-commercial, preferential
terms citing its rejection when the Convention was being
negotiated in favor of the market which was understood as the
best way to proceed. SIERRA LEONE said the failure of the market
approach to technology transfer was the reason to deliberate on
how to proceed. The EU supported AUSTRALIA in proposing a
clearinghouse mechanism similar to the one under the Convention
on Biodiversity. He opposed the creation of a new financial
mechanism. The delegates debated, inter alia: the necessity,
possible form and functions of the TTM; issues relating to the
transfer of public domain technology; the features of a
consultative process; and the role of dialogue between Parties.
The Chair noted the emerging consensus on: the need for
progress; the terms outlined in the capacity building section of
the G-77/China proposal; and the need for dialogue consultations
and information exchange. She noted that there was a convergence
between aspects of the Parties positions, although an agreement
on terminology was needed. She said there was disagreement on
whether to have a mechanism/process/system/facility, its forms
and functions, and the elements for immediate action. She called
upon the delegates to consider the issues and resume discussions
on 6 November.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Official negotiations at COP-4 have mellowed considerably
since Mondays confrontational but cathartic exchanges. Some
observers suggest, however, that politically sensitive talks are
underway behind the scenes. One delegate noted that technology
transfer threatens to become a linchpin issue for these
meetings. He expressed concern that some developed countries
have underestimated the degree of significance the G-77/China
places on the issue, perhaps to the point of halting
negotiations unless the COP takes a decision. Some observers
suggested that the consultations by the host Party have been
initiated and may continue over the weekend.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
CONTACT GROUPS: Contact groups will be held in the morning.
Consult the daily programme for room and time.
JOINT SBI/SBSTA PLENARY: The joint plenary will meet at 1:00
pm in Plenary I.