Daily report for 7 March 2001

CSD-9 Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Transport and Atmosphere

On the second day of the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) meeting on Transport and Atmosphere, delegates considered the Secretary-Generals report on protection of the atmosphere in the morning session. The meeting resumed for a one-hour afternoon session at 5:10 pm and discussed the Co-Chairs' elements for the draft decision on transport. In the morning, the Working Group also elected Daudi Taliwaku (Uganda) as Co-Chair.


GENERAL DISCUSSION ATMOSPHERE: JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, introduced the Secretary-Generals report on the protection of the atmosphere (E/ CN.17/2001/2). She said the report addresses matters relating to atmosphere protection and climate, including vulnerability, adaptation and human health impacts.

The G-77/CHINA cautioned against preempting the outcomes of the meetings of the sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-6). He stressed the need for: additional resources for the Multilateral Fund for the further implementation of the Montreal Protocol and its Annexes; development of affordable and adaptable alternatives to non-ozone depleting substances (non-ODS) for developing country use; leadership by developed countries, taking into acccount the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities; and holistic and comprehensive approaches to atmospheric protection. He called on the CSD-9 to, inter alia: address financial, technological and institutional barriers to combating air pollution in developing countries; encourage regional cooperation in addressing air pollution; and call on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to support active involvement of developing country experts. With SAUDI ARABIA, he said establishing a legal framework to prevent transboundary haze would be premature.

The EU, with several central and eastern European countries, and CYPRUS and MALTA, supported, inter alia: selecting measures on transboundary air pollution that achieve multiple goals; preventing the introduction of ODS not yet covered by international regulations; and focusing on air pollutants and their mitigation, so as not to preempt UNFCCC COP-6 outcomes. He supported international action and cooperation in efforts to reduce emissions. SWITZERLAND stressed the timely implementation of the Montreal Protocol and said the UNFCCC COP is the only competent negotiating forum for climate change. The US said the latest IPCC report provides a scientific basis for discussion of climate change and other atmospheric issues. He emphasized the need to consider ways to mitigate human impacts on the atmosphere. CUBA called for greater synergy between the Montreal Protocol and conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change and Desertification. MEXICO elaborated its efforts to implement the Montreal Protocol, but noted negative effects arising from target achievement criteria. He called for additional resources to the Multilateral Fund and technology transfer to curb urban pollution, and supported efforts to find long-term solutions to transboundary pollution and forest fires and to analyze environmental, social and economic costs of climate variability. CHINA said developed countries must realize their objectives under the Montreal Protocol and stressed that the IPCC should remain unbiased. He said decreased participation in the Multilateral Fund has created a need for subsidies. He stressed the importance of transboundary movement of emissions and said space-based observation must not disadvantage land-based observation.

The NGO ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE CAUCUS outlined elements for a global action plan to achieve sustainable energy policies, including: removing harmful subsidies; redirecting funding to conservation and sustainable energy; establishing and supporting an international sustainable energy organization; supporting full cost accounting in all energy policy and pricing decisions; and supporting targets, timeframes and cooperation in achieving objectives.

SOUTH AFRICA called for more work by governments to reverse the harmful effects of airborne pollution and for funding capacity for disaster preparation. NORWAY stressed focusing on the prevention, rather than the cure, of atmospheric pollution, and highlighted, inter alia, public participation and emission standards. BRAZIL stressed that efforts to protect the atmosphere should be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, noting that economic growth, social development and poverty eradication are the first priorities for developing countries. NIGERIA underscored the need for developed country assistance for capacity building, technology transfer and increased financial resources. CANADA called for, inter alia: resources to enable developing countries to eliminate and reduce persistent organic pollutants; collaboration with industry and organizations in raising awareness; and technology access. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA noted that the report does not address the affordability of technologies to enhance capacity.

AUSTRALIA said that work accomplished in other fora should not be duplicated. He supported a collaborative approach to addressing air quality in urban areas, including fine particulate matter emitted by the transport sector and air toxins. He said climate variability must be considered as a stand-alone sustainability issue and supported improvement of the geographic coverage of the Global Climate Observing System. INDONESIA noted that unsustainable consumption patterns and the transport sector in developed countries are responsible for emissions. He highlighted: addressing the detrimental impacts of the changing atmospheric composition; improving the scientific basis for decision making; and raising awareness of the effects of ozone depletion. He called for action to reduce the detrimental effects of ODS that are already in the atmosphere and to control regional transboundary air pollution. NEW ZEALAND called for support to all critical ground-based measurement programmes in the report. He supported research on vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity and dissemination of information and understanding of climate change issues through capacity building and specialist material.

JAPAN supported the reports recommendations, including: regional cooperation to reduce transboundary air pollution; establishing a legal framework to deal with transboundary haze; and an international network on vulnerability and adaptation assessment. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for focus on national capacity building in monitoring, education and training, and raising public awareness.


ELEMENTS FOR A DRAFT DECISION ON TRANSPORT: Delegates discussed elements for a draft decision on transport. The G-77/CHINA and the EU said the document serves as a good basis for negotiations. Elaborating on the importance of transport to mountainous regions, KYRGYZSTAN, with SWITZERLAND, suggested language on ensuring such regions benefit from transport and infrastructure development, the implementation of development projects, as well as construction, maintenance and modernization of transport infrastructure and cooperation with international organizations and the private sector.

Section A: Introduction: The G-77/CHINA and the EU supported this section, which states that it sets out the possible elements for a draft decision to the CSD-9.

Section B: General Considerations: The G-77/CHINA suggested moving text on recognizing common but differentiated responsibilities to guide the implementation of the issues of transport and sustainable development to the chapeau, and proposed text urging developed countries to assist developing countries to achieve the objectives of transport for sustainable development by providing new and additional financial resources, technology transfer and support for capacity building. He also suggested adding text on: compliance with international law and agreements in the movement of nuclear waste; affordability and accessibility of transport services and systems to ensure mobility on equitable basis to all sectors of society as instrumental to sustainable development; and on tackling transport-related environmental impacts requires capacity building, technology transfer and provision of new and additional financial resources, particularly to developing countries. With respect to challenges from multiple stakeholders, the G-77/CHINA preferred stating that dialogue is encouraged, rather than "increasingly accepted as a pre-condition for effective action by governments." With regard to the three general considerations on the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and the Global Plan of Action on Human Settlements, he preferred deleting references to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol to avoid being selective.

The EU emphasized the importance of all three pillars of sustainable development, and noted that in addition to human settlements, transport systems may also affect ecosystems and habitat fragmentation. She added that the EU would submit additional proposals in writing. SWITZERLAND reiterated the internalization of external costs and the polluter-pays-principle. He proposed a paragraph emphasizing, inter alia, that progress in approaches to sustainable mobility depends on technological processes. NORWAY called for more specific language regarding the dangerous impact of transport on community health and safety through air pollution.

COLOMBIA, with CHILE, GUYANA and SAUDI ARABIA, proposed a paragraph stating that limitations and loopholes exist in the international environmental regime regarding the transboundary movement of nuclear wastes and their disposal, and that further work in this area should include, inter alia, the conclusion of a legally binding instrument. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION, with CANADA, JAPAN and the US, objected, stating that the issue has been covered in other areas of the document and that any approach to transboundary movement should be more general.

Section C: International Cooperation: On this issue, the G-77/ CHINA suggested references to: "sufficient" financing for, inter alia, improvement of mass transit using "all" financial institutions and mechanisms; "more consideration for" transport projects for sustainable development; support for public-private partnerships to promote investment in the transport sector "based on host country national priority"; and the "phasing out" of lead from petrol. On fostering transport systems that further improve safety and reduce pollution, he also called for language on reducing the cost of transfer of goods.

The EU recognized the need for adequate financing and technology transfer, and called for, inter alia: coherent investment guidelines; strategic environmental assessments in major transportation plans and programmes; and further action by the International Maritime Organization on reducing pollution from ships and by the International Civil Aviation Organization on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Kyoto Protocol. NEW ZEALAND proposed language recognizing that sustainable development in the transport sector will require international cooperation and actions specific to national circumstances in seeking, inter alia, to provide assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to achieve sustainable development. He also suggested referring to UNGASS-19 recommendations on the progressive elimination of lead from petrol. The US, with AUSTRALIA and JAPAN, expressed concern regarding language on financing, and suggested consultations with other groups. COLOMBIA reminded delegates that no consensus was required during the discussion.


The reluctance by most delegates to consider issues relating to climate change and atmospheric protection, arguing that these are properly addressed by other fora, was the main issue on Wednesday. Several participants expressed concern that the draft decision on the floor and to be forwarded to CSD-9 simply takes note of the work of other bodies and other fora and thus might lack substance. However, some suggested that this cautious approach signified the precarious nature of the issues under discussion in the UNFCCC COP-6, noting that their deliberations might have been more productive if COP-6 had concluded its work last November as planned.


PLENARY: The Ad Hoc Working Group will meet at 10:00 am in the General Assembly Hall to continue discussion of elements for a draft decision on transport, starting with Section D on Regional Cooperation. They will also consider the Co-Chairs summaries on transport and on atmosphere and begin discussion on elements for a draft decision on atmosphere. The afternoon session will be held in the ECOSOC Chamber and will consider the Co-Chairs summary and the elements for a draft decision on atmosphere.

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