Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Vol. 12 No. 93
Tuesday, November 10 1998

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FCCC FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

9 NOVEMBER 1998

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) considered draft decisions for adoption by the COP. Contact groups continued their deliberations on: non-Annex I communications; technology transfer; the financial mechanism; FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9; and the flexibility mechanisms.

SBSTA

SBSTA met to consider the reports, draft conclusions and decisions of the informal consultations and contact groups on: research and systematic observation (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.6); scientific and methodological aspects of the proposal by Brazil (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/L.7); land use change and forestry (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.7); and the relationship between efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer and efforts to safeguard the global climate system (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.8).

Co-Chair Sue Barrell (Australia) presented the draft conclusions and decisions of the informal consultations on research and systematic observation (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.6). She said there was consensus on the urgent need to improve the quality, coverage and management of the reporting systems. The draft conclusions outlined decisions to develop an action plan to consider options for implementation, and requested the Secretariat to compile a report on priorities for action to improve global observing systems in relation to the needs of the Convention. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION noted the need to support national meteorological systems. He proposed inclusion of systems for the measurement of greenhouse gases and other atmospheric components, reference to satellite systems for data collection and distinction between anthropogenic and natural climate change variations. He suggested that the draft be amended to indicate that national meteorological systems also measure greenhouse gas emissions. The Chair noted that the Global Atmosphere Watch covered the observation of greenhouse gases.

AOSIS, supported by MAURITIUS, noted the lack of current observation networks in developing countries and stressed the need to strengthen indigenous capacity to ensure network sustainability. The US supported the text, but suggested the draft indicate that the session was focused primarily on observation systems, so as not to prejudice the research component.

Delegates debated references to atmospheric observing systems and measurement of greenhouse gas concentrations and agreed to text that “urges Parties to actively support national meteorological and atmospheric observing systems, including measurement of greenhouse gases.” Delegates also debated language requesting Parties to submit information on their participation in global climate observing systems and requesting SBSTA to report to COP-5 on developments regarding observational networks. CHINA said guidelines on initial national communications from non-Annex I countries did not include reference to this information and submitting it was voluntary. MALAWI highlighted the need for financial support. The UK suggested the “climate agenda” draw on, inter alia, the information provided in the second national communication of Annex I Parties and the initial national communication of non- Annex I Parties as appropriate. The decision was adopted as amended.

In the draft conclusions on the scientific and methodological aspects of the proposal by Brazil, SBSTA decided to consider the issue further. It called on Brazil to report at SBSTA’s next session. The conclusions were adopted.

On land use change and forestry (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.7), the draft conclusions called for the organization of a second SBSTA workshop prior to the tenth session to focus on issues related to Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol (such as methodologies, uncertainties, and research and data needs) and welcomed the offer of the US to provide a venue. SBSTA invited Parties to provide submissions on issues to be considered at the workshop. AOSIS stressed that IPCC should be allowed to work independently. He called upon the Secretariat to support the participation of delegates from the most vulnerable group of countries in the second workshop. At the request of the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and other Parties, the title of the draft conclusion was amended to read “land use, land-use change and forestry.” The draft conclusions were adopted as amended.

SBSTA considered a recommendation on the relationship between efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer and efforts to safeguard the global climate system (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.8). The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the process was moving ahead too quickly and there was no need to prepare a document to be considered at the next COP. The Chair explained that a “step by step approach” was embodied in the document, from the invitation to various bodies to provide information to the report by the SBSTA to the next COP. Chair Chow clarified that the decision on the matter would be taken at SBSTA-11, which would give the Secretariat ample time. ICELAND suggested the information compiled by the Secretariat based on the submissions made by various bodies, including NGO’s, be forwarded to the joint-workshop of the IPCC and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol in 1999. The Chair said it would be impractical to expect the Secretariat to produce the compilation in time for the workshop.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION suggested deleting the requirement of a Report from the Secretariat, as the IPCC Report could provide the required information. The Chair clarified there would be two separate reports and was confident Parties would be able to reach credible conclusions. The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC proposed deleting the requirement for the Secretariat to compile the conclusions of the joint workshop. The EU and CHINA opposed the suggestion as it would mean additional work for the IPCC. The Chair clarified that the Secretariat was only to compile the information provided and not rewrite the IPCC document. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION suggested requesting the Secretariat to compile only a three-page report. The draft decision was adopted, despite the objection of the Russian Federation.

Supported by the EU, SAMOA expressed concern over the absence of compliance in the COP agenda. He proposed the establishment of an ad hoc and open-ended group to consider the issues and report to the next COP. He said an effective and equitable compliance regime should ensure consistency in its application to all the obligations under the Protocol. It should: provide compliance responses that reflect the common but differentiated responsibilities of Parties; respect the capabilities of Parties; reflect the institutions and procedures that embody the principles of due process and geographical balance of interests; and operate in a timely manner. The Chair said that the issue is being addressed in the consultations on the preparation for COP/MOP-1.

CONTACT GROUPS

The contact group on the financial mechanism, chaired by John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and Dan Reifsnyder (USA) met in a closed session and discussed a text proposed by the Co-Chairs. No decisions were taken. Delegates indicated that they wanted feedback from other contact groups, such as those on technology transfer and FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9. Delegates linked the decision on the status of the GEF with the discussion on guidance to the GEF. Consultations will continue.

The contact group on technology met to continue discussions on the proposed draft decision. In presenting the modifications to the document, the Co-Chair drew attention to the deadline for the preparation of a miscellaneous document, compiling information on projects and programmes on cooperative approaches to technology transfer. CHINA said a technology transfer mechanism would facilitate progress and assist all Parties in fulfilling the Convention objectives. The draft decision included an annex with a list of functions for a possible process defined by the G-77/China and a preliminary list of issues and questions. The US proposed the inclusion of questions relating to the role of the private sector as well as on measures that can create an appropriate enabling environment for their involvement. The delegates discussed the modifications on the text. As of 6 p.m., delegates were debating what the outcome of the consultative process would be called.

The contact group on non-Annex I national communications, chaired by Paul Malcons (South Africa) and Dan Reifsnyder (US), met on Monday evening. Delegates considered a draft text, although much of it remains in brackets. Discussion centered around a number of issues including: whether national communications will be evaluated and if there will be a process of ongoing evaluation; whether a compilation and synthesis of non-Annex I national communications will be completed, and if so when; whether there will be in-country reviews; and whether workshops will help the consideration and/or preparation of national communications. The group will reconvene Tuesday morning.

The contact group on the implementation of FCCC Article 4.8 and 4.9 (decision 3/CP.3 and Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14) (adverse effects) met in a closed session under the chairmanship of Bo Kjellen (Sweden) and Mohammad Salamat (Iran). Prior to the meeting, the chairs circulated a draft decision, which decided that the basic elements for further analysis should include: the identification of adverse effects; determination of the impacts of implementation measures in developing countries; the identification of the specific needs and concerns of developing country Parties arising from such adverse effects and impacts; and identifying further necessary actions related to funding, insurance and the transfer of technology in order to meet the needs of developing countries. A programme of work was proposed that included: an expert workshop (April, 1999); further discussion in subsidiary bodies (SBSTA and SBI 10, June 1999); identification of needs for further information needed (COP-5, October 1999); and decisions made (COP-6, October 2000). As of 10:30 pm, delegates were unable to reach agreement and will continue discussion.

The contact group on mechanisms met to debate a draft work programme on mechanisms. The G-77/CHINA submitted a proposed work programme containing an extensive list of issues, embodying a “step-by-step” approach and prioritizing the CDM. In response, the US, supported by CANADA and AUSTRALIA, suggested the contact group address four questions: what type of decision should be made, when, by whom, and how it should move forward. He added that there were two options, negotiate the items or keep the list of items open. The EU said the G-77/China draft programme lacked inter alia, a clear timeline, deadlines and allocation of work to different bodies. They rejected the prioritization of work, calling for parallel development of all three mechanisms. The Co-Chairs introduced a draft decision on mechanisms, taking into consideration the views expressed at the Group, admitting that it was outside their mandate. Australia said the issues settled at Kyoto should not be re-opened. As of 10:30 p.m. the delegates were unable to reach agreement and were continuing deliberations. They will meet from 11:00am-2:00pm on Tuesday.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Some participants reported that the US and the EU held high level negotiations on Saturday concerning the development of compliance mechanism(s). The EU reportedly supports a comprehensive regime and a work plan to establish it, but expressed concern that the US policy is unclear. No agreement was reached and some have reported that meaningful progress seems unlikely. Some G-77/CHINA delegates expressed increasing discomfort with the continuing focus on voluntary commitments presented in the BuenosAyres newspaper. Sentiment peaked when the paper published a survey suggesting that 66 countries of 130 surveyed desired debate on this topic.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

CONTACT GROUPS: Contact groups will begin meeting at 8:00 am.

SBI: SBI will meet from 7:00 pm to midnight in Plenary II.

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (enb@iisd.org) is written and edited by Chad Carpenter LL.M. (chadc@iisd.org), Angela Churie (churie@l.kth.se), Victoria Kellett (vkellett@iisd.ca), Greg Picker (gregpicker@hotmail.com), Lavanya Rajamani LL.M. (lrajamani@hotmail.com). The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. (pam@iisd.org) and the Managing Editor is Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI (kimo@iisd.org). The WWW Content Editor is Peter Doran (pfdoran@ecology.u-net.com) and WWW design by Andrei Henry (ahenry@iisd.ca). Digital photos by Leila Mead (leila@interport.net). Digital engineering by David Fernau (david@virtualstockholm.net) and Chris Spence (spencechris@hotmail.com). Logistics by Molly Rosenman (mrosenman@iisd.ca). French translation by Mongi Gadhoum (Mongi.Gadhoum@enb.intl.tn). The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the Netherlands Ministry for Development Cooperation, the Government of Canada (through CIDA) and the United States (through USAID). General Support for the Bulletin during 1998 is provided by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the German Federal Ministry of Environment (BMU), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Office for Environment, Forests and Landscape, the European Community (DG-XI), the Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs of Austria, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Finland, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Norway, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Ministry for the Environment in Iceland. Specific support for ENB coverage of COP-4 is provided by Germany's GTZ and the UNFCCC Secretariat. The Bulletin can be contacted in Buenos Aires at (15) 170-7613, by e-mail at (enb@iisd.org) and fax: +1-212-644-0206. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and other funders. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications only and only with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (http://iisd.ca/enb/email.asp) and full multimedia coverage of COP-4 can be found on the Linkages WWW server at http://enb.iisd.org/climate/ba/.

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