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Report of main proceedings for 17 July 1996

UNFCCC COP 2

The Plenary met on the eighth day of the Second Conference of the Parties (COP-2) tothe Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) to convene the MinisterialSegment. In the afternoon, a high-level Ministerial Round Table met.

PLENARY

MINISTERIAL SEGMENT: COP President H.E. Chen Chimutengwende(Zimbabwe) introduced the high level segment of the Plenary. He said high level inputwill be instrumental in advancing the Berlin Mandate process. A new impetus is neededin the work of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate so that negotiations canbegin. FCCC Executive Secretary, Michael Zammit Cutajar, invited Ministers to:undertake additional efforts; endorse the SAR; start urgent negotiations on the BerlinMandate; address developing country Party needs for financial support; and ensureserious review of implementation of future commitments.

SWITZERLAND: Ruth Dreifuss, Federal Councillor and Head, Federal Department ofthe Interior, recommended that the COP endorse the SAR and invited countries whoseeconomic development is sufficient to join the OECD to voluntarily fulfill Annex Iresponsibilities. The Swiss GHG inventory indicates that carbon dioxide emissions maystabilize at 1990 levels by 2000.

The G-77/CHINA: Manuel Dengo, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United Nations, saiddeveloped country Parties must strengthen their commitments in Articles 4.2 (a) and (b),including elaboration of policies and measures and QELROs with specified time frames.They are setting a bad precedent by evading responsibilities. The GEF’s actions dependon decisions of the COP and not the reverse.

The EU: Brendan Howlin, Minister for the Environment of Ireland, reaffirmed the EU’scommitment to an ambitious outcome to the Berlin Mandate. The EU is on course toreturn CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Carbon dioxide concentration levels lowerthan 550 parts per million should guide global efforts. He called for a ministerialdeclaration that endorses the SAR and the precautionary principle, calls for enhancedimplementation, and invites new proposals on the Berlin Mandate process, which must beaccelerated.

AOSIS: Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ofWestern Samoa to the United Nations, said GHG reductions are technically possible andeconomically feasible. He advocated the targets and timetables set out in an AOSISprotocol and endorsement of the SAR.

CENTRAL AMERICA GROUP: Luis Flores Asturias, Vice President of Guatemala,described political changes in the region and said Parties must strengthen commitments inArticles 4.2 (a) and (b) and support the Berlin Mandate process to establish verifiable andtime tabled reductions.

POLAND: Stanislaw Zelichowski, Minister of Environmental Protection, said reducedemission levels by economies in transition helped to offset slight increases by OECDcountry Parties. Some countries may be obliged to increase GHGs to pursue their right toeconomic and social development.

AUSTRALIA: Robert Hill, Minister of the Environment, voiced his commitment tofulfilling his obligations under the FCCC and acknowledged the importance of the SAR.He said it would be premature to establish a particular point at which levels of GHGsbecome dangerous. He supported the reduction of CO2 emissions under the precautionaryprinciple, the enhancement of carbon sinks, the cultivation of AIJ programs and acooperative and equitable approach.

The US: Timothy Wirth, Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, endorsed both theIPCC and the SAR, noting the SAR as a basis for urgent action. He called on countriesnot to ignore the science nor allow action to be delayed by those “bent on obfuscating theresults”. He stressed the need to focus on real and achievable targets which incorporatemeasured adjustments. He opposed mandatory harmonized policies and measures.

GERMANY: Angela Merkel, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservationand Nuclear Safety, said the SAR confirms the need for more intensive action. The goalsof the FCCC can only be achieved through international cooperation that recognizesParties’ “common but differentiated” responsibilities. She stressed the need forflexibility, particularly for economies in transition, as well as legally bindingcommitments for policies and measures, noting that some measures will only be effectiveif harmonized among Annex I countries.

JAPAN: Sukio Iwadare, Minister of State, Director General of the Environment Agency,urged the COP to shift its emphasis from analysis and assessment to negotiation byconsolidating the points and proposals. He called for the formulation of a legal instrumentthat reflects: precautionary measures; environmental effectiveness; equitable and efficientdistribution of policy efforts; positive direction; creation of a foundation for globalmeasures; and the active development and transfer of clean technologies.

INDONESIA: Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Minister of the Environment, noted hiscountry’s efforts to manage GHG emissions, enhance its carbon sink capacity throughimproved agricultural and land use practices and incorporate precautionary measures intoits coastal zone management plan. He called on Annex I countries to increase their effortsto reduce GHG emissions to levels stipulated in the FCCC and urged the COP to adopt itsrules of procedure. He welcomed AIJ on a voluntary basis in accordance with the BerlinMandate, assistance with human resource development and national capacity building,and equitable sharing of benefits and differentiated responsibilities under the Convention.

CANADA: Sergio Marchi, Minister of the Environment, strongly supported the SAR as abasis for urgent action, noting that uncertainties regarding the rate and level of climatechange are not grounds for inaction. He said countries need to work “harder, faster andsmarter” and encouraged the development and use of clean technologies, projects aimedat energy efficiency and the involvement of governments, international institutions,industry and NGOs in an open and transparent process. He called for the establishment oftargets for the year 2000 and beyond.

CHINA: Li Zhaoxin, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, fully supported the G-77/China. He called for the use of sustainable consumption and production patterns, thedevelopment of domestic policies and measures, recognition of Parties’ common butdifferentiated responsibilities, and the need to set GHG emission targets with specifictime frames. He commended Annex I countries for their efforts in producing nationalreports. He sought financial and technological assistance for non-Annex I countries inmeeting their responsibilities under the FCCC.

SWEDEN: Anna Lindh, Minister of the Environment, said a continued strategy forreducing CO2 emissions should include concrete technical measures in a protocol andcalled for wise transformation of industrial processes, energy systems and transportpatterns. She also focused on economic instruments to promote cost-effective measuresand noted Sweden’s positive experiences with environmental taxes. She recommendedharmonized taxation on CO2 emissions as an effective measure.

The NETHERLANDS: Margaretha de Boer, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning andEnvironment, said she is prepared for serious negotiations on a protocol to the FCCC.She supported the findings of the SAR and expressed confidence that emission reductionscan be achieved, provided that industrial countries coordinate their actions. Parties shouldaccept that costs differ from country to country and achieve reductions at the lowest cost.She also reported on the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) on behalf of the OECD andthe EUROPEAN COMMISSION. The CTI is a linked set of international measures topromote awareness of technical responses to climate change and identify and shareexpertise between countries.

GHANA: Sam P. Yalley, Deputy Minister of the Environment, Science and Technology,noted that the anticipated impact of climate change will be irreversible in his country.Although Ghana has not prepared a national communication, it has prepared an inventoryof GHGs and has initiated “no regrets” measures. He highlighted the slowness of theprocess and called for expeditious funding from the GEF. He expressed strong concernregarding attempts to sway delegates from taking measures recommended by the IPCC,particularly those who based their arguments on economic losses.

The UK: John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, noted that in Riodeveloped countries agreed that they had enjoyed the benefits of development, and mustnow shoulder the burden. Many will not make their emission targets. He disagreed withcalls for a long-term GHG regime and said no developed country can avoid taking actionnow. Developed countries must help by exporting only clean technology. He called forremoving subsidies on the use of fossil fuels, introducing competitiveness into energymarkets, increasing road fuel duties, improving fuel efficiency in cars, increasing tax onaviation fuel by removing the present exemption and improving domestic efficiencystandards. He noted that some of the most inefficient offices are owned by thegovernments who talk the most about climate change.

PORTUGAL: Elisa Ferreira, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, saidthis Conference is the moment to confirm agreements and to reaffirm the political will tonegotiate practical action. She noted a number of measures currently underway inPortugal, and distinguished between the need for economic growth and the need to loweremissions. At the bilateral level, her country will engage in many development projectsdesigned to support the goals of the FCCC.

DENMARK: Svend Auken, Minister for the Environment and Energy, contrasted theneed for reductions and the forecast for energy needs for the coming years and noted thateven the OECD countries will experience substantial growth. He supported coordinatedmeasures in taxation. He noted that there will be an enormous volume of investment inthe energy sector and AIJ must be truly additional to this investment. AIJ must not be aloophole for subsidizing energy exports to developing countries, not a “sorry excuse” forpostponing actions needed in developed countries.

IN THE CORRIDORS I

Individuals attending the Ministerial Round Table reported that participants addressed thetheme of new scientific findings and opportunities, and discussed whether the SARprovided additional justification for political action, what action is needed to reaffirm thecredibility of existing commitments of Annex I Parties and what action is needed to givea new impulse to the negotiating phase of the Berlin Mandate process. One observerreported that the Round Table discussions mirrored those held throughout COP-2, withdelegates disagreeing on the weight to be given the SAR. Some delegations stronglypromoted both a protocol and a ministerial declaration. It was reported that the RoundTable heard many interventions but had limited substantive debate. Observers wereunable to state decisively whether the discussions were effected by the increased numberof participants or simply reflected how far ministers were willing to go at COP-2.

IN THE CORRIDORS II

Consensus continues to elude COP-2 on a number of issues. Mohamed Ould El Ghaouth,Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, held separate consultations yesterdaywith delegates of developed and developing countries to discuss the Annex to theMemorandum of Understanding between the COP and the GEF. Additionally, someobservers suggested that the deadlock over the rules of procedure will continue beyondCOP-2.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Ministerial Segment will re-convene at 10:00 a.m. in theAssembly Hall.

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