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UNFCCC - COP5 Negotiations Tuesday, 2 November


Argentina to assume voluntary commitment, invites Parties to create a bridge for non-Annex l countries to participate in all Kyoto Mechanisms
Argentina's María Julia Alsogaray has informed COP-5 that her country is now prepared to adopt a voluntary target to reduce its GHG emission growth rate, fulfilling outgoing President Menem's pledge at COP-4. She called on the Parties to establish a process to accept Argentina's voluntary commitment and to create a "bridge to the Convention that would allow Argentina and other non-Annex l countries to participate in all of the Kyoto Mechanisms."

Following Argentina's announcement to the Conference of the Parties, the Argentine delegation convened a briefing to explain their country's voluntary commitment to reduce GHG emission growth rate. In this RealAudio clip, Maria Julia Alsogaray summarizes Argentina's actions and notes that it is only a first step for both Argentina and the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies along a path to full implementation.
Download Argentina's revised First National Communication, prepared to accompany the submission of its voluntary target (PDF format). Quote from the Executive Summary: "By way of this document, Argentina is now submitting its greenhouse gas emission target... This target is aimed at achieving, within the framework of the country's developmental policies, a reduction in the rate of growth of GHG emissions, through the implementation of measures that may contribute to the process of sustainable development."

Right: Vicente Barros, Asesor, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto during the briefing convened by the delegation of Argentina.

The United States' Frank E Loy, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs at the Department of State, congratulated Argentina on its leadership and hard work. He said nations can simultaneously reduce emissions and contribute to their economic growth by taking on an appropriate emissions target that allows them to engage in trading.

Loy added: "We need to build on these successes and look for market-oriented strategies that will reap rewards for developing countries that voluntarily reduce their emissions. So in addition to ongoing discussions about the timing and nature of developing country commitments, we would like to work together on a complementary track. We would like to open a new dialogue between developed and developing countries about how to use the Kyoto process to more effectively pursue sustainable development opportunities." The US plans to explore at a high-level and in an appropriate forum, the progress that has been made and how developed and developing countries can cooperate to broaden and strengthen the trend.

EU is ready to ratify Kyoto Protocol by Rio+10 in 2002, but …
The Finnish Presidency of the European Union has announced that it is "willing and ready to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the Rio+10 Conference" in 2002. Satu Hassi, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation in Finland said the Kyoto Protocol is the most ambitious intergovernmental agreement aiming at the preservation of a living world for generations to come. It appears that the unilateral gesture, however, is conditional and may be withdrawn or amended subject to the attitude of other Parties to the ratification deadline, such as the US. The offer is best compared to the EU's opening bid of 15% reductions in the lead up to the final negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol. This bid was effectively withdrawn and revised downwards in the course of the negotiation. Pictured here are
Margot Walström, Commissioner, European Commission (center) and Satu Hassi (right).

The EU gesture added more momentum to support for a Rio+10 deadline for ratification leading to Entry into Force of the Protocol. Support for the deadline was also expressed during the High Level Segment by the President of the COP; Klaus Töpfer (UNEP), the representative of the UN Secretary-General; the UNFCCC Executive Secretary; the AOSIS speaker; the UK's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and a number of other countries.

If the stick is too big, the beast falls over
European Ministers rounded on United States business and industry representatives at an early morning briefing Tuesday. Business representatives from the US were taken aback by the frankness of the European Ministers as they challenged industry to support the climate change regime. In a rehearsal of familiar themes, the balance of regulatory and taxation instruments as opposed to voluntary agreements was discussed at length. Facing suggestions that Governments might resort to more stick than carrot, one business representative retorted: "If the stick is too big, the beast falls over."

The UK Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, attempted to move the discussion forward. One of the themes of the discussion was the role European business and industry leaders might play in encouraging their United States counterparts to adopt a less defensive response to the challenges and opportunities raised by climate change.

OPEC stirs friction within G-77/China
There are reports of friction within the G-77/China group as a result of Saudi Arabia's attitude to a number of outstanding issues in the negotiations, including international transportation. The Saudi delegation is the co-ordinator for the issue within the G-77/China. They are also leading players in the ongoing contact group discussions on adverse effects.

High Level Segment

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

The dias left to right: Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, Michael Zammit Cutajar, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, COP-5 President Jan Szyszko, and Richard Kinley, COP Secretary

The UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Michael Zammit Cutajar, said the arrival of Ministers lifted the Conference from tactics to vision. He outlined five building blocks for building confidence for success in the negotiations on the Buenos Aires Action Plan:

  • Leading industrial economies can use the opportunity to demonstrate their engagement in early domestic action
  • The CDM can be made the cornerstone of a North-South compact
  • COP-5 has provided an opportunity to address the bottlenecks in the delivery and consideration of national communications by non Annex-1 countries
  • The credibility of the Protocol must remain a central concern. Achievement of the Protocol targets solely through "hot air" and "sinks" will undermine the commitment to modify longer-term emission trends
  • A negotiating process needs deadlines. Pressure must be kept up for results at COP-6, with the aim of bringing the Protocol into force by 2002. He also suggested reaching an understanding on what lies beyond COP-6, including the review of the Protocol by COP/MOP 2, the 2005 performance benchmark and the continuation of the Protocol into the second and future commitment periods.

Klaus Töpfer reads a message from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

The President of COP-5, Jan Szyszko (Poland) introduced the High-level segment and suggested that Entry into Force of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 should become a motto for the Conference.

Allison Drayton, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Guyana to the UN, speaking on behalf of the G-77/China, commented on the "super cyclone" in the Bay of Bengal
Satu Hassi, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation, Finland speaking on behalf of the EU
The Finnish Presidency of the European Union called for a revised negotiating text on the Kyoto Mechanisms and on compliance, so that COP-6 can make actual decisions. An intensified work programme should lead to the production of negotiating texts by June 2000. On partnership with developing countries, she noted that developing countries' contributions to GHG emissions are increasingly rapidly. The EU announced that it is willing and ready to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the Rio+10 Conference.

László Miklós, Minister of the Environment, Slovakia speaking on behalf of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia)

Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Ambassador to the of Samoa to the UN, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said proposals on land use activities (sinks) would erase obligations agreed in the Kyoto Protocol, using "sleight of hand". He supported early Entry into Force by 2002 and welcomed the preparedness of some non-Annex Parties to undertake obligations.

Vincent Lasse, Minister of Finance, Development and Planning, Trinidad and Tobago speaking on behalf of CARICOM

Ana Maria Majano, Minister of the Environment, El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Central American Group

James A. Michel, Vice-President, Seychelles

Redley Killion, Vice-President, Federated States of Micronesia

The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, John Prescott, invited the Parties to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at the Rio+10 Conference. He also called on Parties to avoid the "highwire" act in the negotiating process, with the risk of breakdown.

María Julia Alsogaray, Head of the Secretariat of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Argentina

Dr. Kezimbira Miyingo, Minister of State for Environment (Uganda) on behalf of the Africa Group said the urgent issues for resolution at COP-5 include capacity building, adaptation to adverse effects, access to and support for the development and transfer of clean technologies and access to finance through the CDM and AIJ. He added: "While Africa recognizes the role that the private sector can play in the implementation of the CDM, Annex-l Parties must still play the lead role. The issue of climate change is similar to the issue of national security and cannot be left to the private sector."

Ichita Yamamoto, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Japan

Noel Dempsey, Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Ireland

Liu Jiang, Minister and Vice Chairman, State Development Planning Commission, China
Plenary Statements by IGOs, UN agencies and NGOs
Note: RealVideo of all statements made in Plenary are available from the Video Archive of the UNFCCC's Video-on-demand service

Björn Stigson, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD), told Parties that there was no need to reinvent the wheel. They should use existing mechanisms to help implement the Kyoto provisions on trading and verification.

Karla Schoeters, Climate Action Network (Europe) told the Parties that the planet is struggling while they address political and technical issues in their negotiations. Climate change is not something for the future. It is happening today. She was one of the speakers who ruled out nuclear power as a suitable technology under the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.

Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified serious weaknesses in the Parties approach to climate change and warned about the dire state of the IPCC's finances. He also outlined possible ways in which climate change can negatively impact sustainable development.

Professor G.O.P. Obasi, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), commented on extreme weather events and called on Parties to support climate monitoring, climate research and to address the needs of developing countries, especially those of small island states.

Klaus Töpfer, UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said the fight against poverty in the world is the single most important precondition for effective action on the environment.

Michel Zammit Cutajar, UNFCCC Executive Director, greets Klaus Töpfer

Mohamed T El-Ashry, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, was one of a number of speakers at the High Level segment who expressed sympathy to the victims of the 'super cyclone' in the Bay of Bengal.

Charles Spencer, Franciscans International, invited delegates to "stop the talk and walk the walk". He appealed to OPEC to stop holding up the process and warned that emissions trading could allow Parties to divest themselves of their responsibility for tackling climate change. He added that the time for nuclear power has come and gone.

Robert Priddle, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA)

Shokri Ghanem, Officer-in-Charge, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

Astrid Gisbertz, European Atomic Forum (FORATOM)

Juhani Santaholma, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Thorvald Moe, Deputy Secretary-General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Brett Orlando, The World Conservation Union (IUCN)

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