Daily report for 8 March 2001

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

Delegates at the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on Transport and Atmosphere met in a morning session and heard NGO statements providing input for the Co-Chairs elements for the draft decision on transport. The AHWG then continued consideration of the draft decision on transport, starting with the section on regional cooperation. In an afternoon session, delegates began consideration of the Co-Chairs elements for a draft decision on the protection of the atmosphere.


Co-Chair Daudi Taliwaku (Uganda) invited NGO representatives to make statements on the elements for a draft decision on transport. Noting that gender inequity in transport is a global problem, the WOMENS CAUCUS stressed the need to: revise the definition and understanding of mobility needs to reflect womens lives and responsibilities; integrate gender impact assessments into environmental impact assessments; focus on over-consumption in developed countries, as well as on equitable access to resources and services in developing countries; and support infrastructure for non-motorized transport and pedestrians. The WORLD CIRCLE OF THE CONSENSUS supported calls by Norway, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia for measures to address the pollution aspects of fossil fuels. The INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS highlighted the occupational and public aspects of transport safety and stressed the need to recognize and incorporate workers and workplaces into policy making, planning and implementation. The INSTITUTE FOR TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT POLICY noted that while access to basic mobility is critical, infrastructure provision alone is seldom an effective means of alleviating poverty, and called for improvements in transportation for the poor.

ELEMENTS FOR A DRAFT DECISION ON TRANSPORT: Section C: International Cooperation: The G-77/CHINA called for inclusion of language from Agenda 21 on the phasing out of lead in petrol as soon as possible, with technological and economic assistance to allow developing countries to make such a transition.

Section D: Regional Cooperation: The G-77/CHINA proposed deleting references to regional cooperation on transport guidelines. The EU suggested adding language on exchanging best practices and on the potential of land-use planning and infrastructure planning for promoting more sustainable transport patterns. SAUDI ARABIA, with COLOMBIA, proposed a paragraph stating that eradicating poverty is an indispensable requirement of sustainable development and that environmental standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and have unwarranted economic and social costs. SWITZERLAND emphasized bilateral and trilateral cooperation.

Section E: Recommendations at the National Level: The G-77/ CHINA suggested references to, inter alia, improving incentives to reduce emissions "as affordable" and to transportation systems that are responsive to development needs, where affordable; and proposed confining decision making to the transport sector. He called for deletion of reference to "promoting sustainability in the transport sector," and proposed replacing language on mitigating emissions from transport with text encouraging countries to take further steps toward developing environmentally-sound technologies for transport.

The EU suggested new paragraphs on: strategic environmental and health assessment; monitoring mechanisms and indicators in transport policy; gender travel trends; and public participation. With AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND, and opposed by SAUDI ARABIA and the G-77/CHINA, she supported the elimination of lead in petrol. JAPAN suggested reference to railroads and inland roads and transport. SWITZERLAND suggested text on elimination of the use of lead, other metallics and aromatics in petrol, and substituting them with ethanol for octane purposes. SAUDI ARABIA suggested adding language on the removal of energy subsidies. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for text on pursuing policies to restrain use of private vehicles and to facilitate public transport. AUSTRALIA, with CANADA, NORWAY, TURKEY and the US, warned against emphasizing one pillar of sustainable development over the others, and called for mutually reinforcing solutions.

The G-77/CHINA stated that proposals deviating from agreed Rio+5 language, -including overemphasis of one of the three pillars of sustainable development, externalities or subsidies would be unacceptable, as these incur unwarranted costs in developing countries. CHINA concurred, stressing the need to consider country differences in their levels of development. SAUDI ARABIA inquired how the Co-Chairs would incorporate contradictory proposals. Summing up the discussion, Co-Chair David Stuart (Australia) said delegates input would be used to prepare a revised draft decision for discussion on Friday, 9 March.

CO-CHAIRS SUMMARY ON TRANSPORT: CHINA noted the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is not reflected, and preferred replacing "appropriate technology" with "environmentally-sound technology." SAUDI ARABIA said references to sustainable transport should be reformulated to transport for sustainable development. The US said countervailing views were expressed in regard to the transboundary movement of nuclear waste, and proposed introducing the notion of balanced spending between "private, mass transit and non-motorized vehicles." Co-Chair Stuart preferred reflecting the language used during the discussion. INDONESIA said the summary should underline the need to address transportation from consumer and producer perspectives and should reflect the fact that most environmental impacts, mainly in developed countries, are caused by unsustainable transportation.


ELEMENTS FOR A DRAFT DECISION ON THE ATMOSPHERE: Co-Chair Taliwaku invited comments on the elements for the draft decision on atmosphere. No comments were raised on Section A, Introduction, which states that the Working Group submits possible elements for a draft decision to the CSD-9.

Section B: General Considerations: On decisions and policy options, the G-77/CHINA supported language taking into account the priority needs of developing countries for sustained economy and poverty eradication. He called for additional text on unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, equity and historical share in increasing urbanization, emigration to urban areas, the lack of financial and technological resources and the interdependency of transport and atmosphere. He also urged reference to, inter alia: impacts of natural disasters on human activity; developed countries having the greatest share in polluting emissions; and additional support by the international community. Opposed by NORWAY, he supported deleting a reference to the damage caused by air pollutants thousands of kilometers from the source. The EU added a reference to impacts of atmospheric variations on ecosystems. CANADA supported deletion of reference to toxic substances, noting that not all toxic substances are emissions. SWITZERLAND suggested deleting text stating that addressing atmospheric issues is particularly burdensome on developing countries and added a reference to extreme weather. Noting that discussions on vulnerability were not reflected, NEW ZEALAND suggested referring to the Secretary-Generals report on the need to develop new tools for vulnerability assessment.

Section C: International Cooperation: The G-77/CHINA proposed new text on assisting developing countries to introduce cleaner fuels, on air pollution abatement technologies and on promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, particularly in developed countries. He said the private sector should be mentioned in promoting the transfer of cleaner or alternative fuels and other traffic management technologies. He also called for, inter alia, references to periodic and adequate replenishment of the Multilateral Fund and cost-effective, affordable and environmentally sound alternatives. The G-77/CHINA also proposed including a paragraph calling on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to support active and more proportionate involvement of academics and experts from developing countries in the preparation of its reports.

The EU called for wording on, inter alia: facilitating the access and sharing of information; promoting traffic management technologies and practices; and supporting assessments of air pollution impacts on health, ecosystems and cultural heritage. With support from NORWAY, but opposed by the US, she suggested a new paragraph on avoiding the introduction and use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) not yet covered by international regulations and support the expeditious addition of such ODS to Montreal Protocol provisions.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for reference to effectively implementing regional arrangements regarding transboundary air pollution. JAPAN, with CANADA and the US, suggested text on the integration of atmospheric observing systems at different levels. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION called for a reference to countries with economies in transition in paragraphs on capacity building, technology transfer and implementation of the Montreal Protocol. NEW ZEALAND, with SAUDI ARABIA, but opposed by AUSTRALIA and CANADA, suggested a paragraph on promoting international research on resilience, vulnerability and adaptation assessments. He also called for reference to combating, inter alia, transboundary haze and air pollution. AUSTRALIA, with CUBA and the US, stressed that decisions on the Multilateral Fund should be left to the relevant international bodies. SWITZERLAND supported wording on encouraging Parties to implement the UNFCCC and successfully finalize the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol.

Section D: Regional Cooperation: The G-77/CHINA suggested referring to strengthening of cooperation on atmosphere-related issues, "as appropriate." The REPUBLIC OF KOREA suggested reference to "further strengthening the development of regional agreements and programmes," while the G-77/CHINA preferred deleting this reference. The EU called on the Commission to encourage capacity building, institutional strengthening and the involvement of different stakeholders in efforts toward improved air quality and to search actively for synergies to mitigate local, regional and global atmospheric problems. JAPAN stressed improving air quality, especially in urban areas.

Section E: Recommendations at the National Level: The G-77/ CHINA suggested text stating that governments, taking into account their respective "priorities and" circumstances, are invited "with the support of the international community, as appropriate" to consider "improving data compilation and monitoring of air quality." The US supported the proposal to refer to improvement of data compilations, noting that the UNFCCC calls for establishment of emissions inventories. The EU suggested text calling on governments to: improve shelter conditions, and promote planning and good design in human settlements; bring attention to the usefulness of strategic environmental evaluations on a programme level; avoid introduction and use of ODS not covered by international regulations; and support conversion to non-ODS and non-global warming substances or alternative techniques.

SWITZERLAND suggested further developing and implementing air quality strategies, including air quality indices, and stressed the need to identify and address the adverse effects of air pollution on human health, in particular on people living in poverty and disadvantaged groups. He suggested calling on governments to continue UNFCCC implementation.


During discussions on the elements for a draft decision on transport, some participants questioned whether the references to "sustainable transport" and "transport for sustainable development" signaled a difference in perceptions of the meaning of the concepts, or represented a divergence on the application of the concepts. According to observers these issues were extensively discussed within regional groups prior to the plenary discussions.

While several participants shared the view that "sustainable transport" integrates the three pillars of sustainability into the transport sector, others argued that "transport for sustainable development" could imply prioritization of social and economic concerns over environmental considerations, with the ultimate goal being the achievement of sustainable development in general. Other participants preferred referring to "transport for sustainable development" in a developing country context, noting that this is in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and reflects the need to prioritize poverty alleviation in these countries.


PLENARY: The Working Group will meet at 10:00 am in the ECOSOC Chamber to conclude deliberations on the first draft of the Co-Chairs summary on the protection of the atmosphere and to consider the revised elements for a draft decision on transport. In the afternoon, delegates are expected to consider and finalize the revised elements for a draft decision on the protection of the atmosphere and on the revised Co-Chairs summary, and to conclude its work.

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