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Report of main proceedings for 8 July 1996

UNFCCC COP 2

The Second Conference of the Parties (COP-2) to the Framework Convention on ClimateChange (FCCC) convened this morning in Geneva. The Plenary elected the President ofthe Conference, heard opening statements, adopted the programme of work and debatedRules of Procedure including the election of officers other than the President.

OPENING PLENARY

In the opening address Angela Merkel, Federal Minister for the Environment, NatureConservation and Nuclear Safety (Germany) and COP-1 President said the time-framesspecified by the Berlin Mandate are very ambitious. A convergence of views on centralissues is not yet in sight. The Second Assessment Report (SAR) of the IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change (IPCC) is alarming. The results of the review of the first nationalcommunications of Annex 1 Parties are a matter of concern. Fifteen developed countrieswith 55% of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of the group currently expectemissions levels by the year 2000 to exceed those of 1990. She called for ambitiousreduction targets in the short and medium term. The credibility of all Parties is at stake.

She then introduced Item 2 of the Provisional Agenda, the election of the COP PresidentChen Chimutengwende, Minister of Environment and Tourism (Zimbabwe), was electedby acclamation. He said outstanding issues include reporting by Annex 1 Parties,preparation of guidelines for submission of initial communications by non-Annex 1 Parties,new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full incremental costs incurredby developing country Parties, the role of the GEF, and the role of activities implementedjointly and other mechanisms. He invited heads of delegations to a roundtable on 17 Julyon political issues arising from the agenda.

Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary General delivered the message of the UN SecretaryGeneral. Noting recent strides in understanding the science of climate change, he urgedParties to strengthen earlier commitments. Climate change is a global issue that cannot besolved without a global effort undertaken in a cooperative and integrated manner. Henoted the complementary nature of Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration, and the FCCC andencouraged parties to acknowledge linkages among the three in revising theircommitments.

Claude Haegi, State Counselor of Geneva, stated that political and economic decisionscannot be made in isolation but must consider human impacts on the environment. Hestressed the need to modify current energy consumption and production patterns and touse all energy sources, with the aim of developing clean and renewable sources.

Michael Zammit Cutajar, FCCC Executive Secretary, noted that sharper definition ofFCCC goals and a timetable in which they should be accomplished is needed. He called onthe COP to provide better guidance to the GEF and not to overlook Articles 5 (research)and 6 (education), suggesting that UNEP take the lead in overseeing the implementationof Article 6.

G.O.P. Obasi, Secretary General of WMO, said the SAR provides evidence that makes theFCCC an absolute necessity. He called for: completion of negotiations on the stabilizationof CO2 emissions; provision of a solid scientific basis for deliberations by the subsidiarybodies; reinforcement of national capabilities to provide data; and consideration ofassistance to developing countries and those with economies in transition to enable themto limit emissions. He also noted the need to fund the Climate Agenda, an initiative toestablish a framework for international climate-related scientific programmes.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of UNEP, noted that the lack of full scientificcertainty should not be used as an excuse to postpone action and that the atmosphere willcontinue to change until Parties choose to control their emissions. She called for a globalemission cap, access to financial mechanisms and technology transfer for developingcountries, and access to reliable information by decision makers. She noted opportunitiesfor action, including: reaping the benefits of integrated resource management; ensuringrationality in actions to protect the environment; engaging the private sector and civilsociety; and analyzing market and non-market mechanisms.

Bert Bolin, Chair of the IPCC, reiterated the conclusion of the SAR that suggests "adiscernable human influence on global climate." He highlighted: masking of globalwarming by aerosol emissions; emission limits necessary to stabilize carbon dioxideconcentrations; additional IPCC papers on climate stabilisation, environmentalimplications of emissions limitations and policies and measures; and critical evaluation ofthe SAR. He objected to criticism that the IPCC had violated its procedures in preparationof the SAR.

Mohamed El-Ashry, Chair and CEO of the GEF, stated that between February 1995 andApril 1996, the GEF Council approved US$215 million for climate change activities. Heemphasized that the recently adopted GEF Operational Strategy contained a chapter onclimate change that had been developed under COP-1 guidance. He called upon COP-2 toconsider the permanent financial mechanism of the FCCC.

Robert Priddle, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency of the OECD,focused on the Berlin Mandate. He highlighted the long time necessary to achieveinfrastructural change in the energy sector, calling for long term commitments from AnnexI countries including policy instruments and funding for research and development.

Anders Wijkman, UNDP, called on governments to create a level playing field between allenergy suppliers, enforce the polluter pays principle, and focus research and developmenton increasing energy efficiency and identifying renewable energy sources. He said OECDcountries should provide a leadership role and that the GEF should be strengthened.

Assad Kotaite, Executive Director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO), highlighted the need for cooperation between the ICAO and developed countries,noting that unilateral measures for addressing aircraft emissions should be avoided. Thegreatest obstacle to progress is the lack of a scientific assessment on the impact ofemissions. Once an assessment is completed, the extent to which technology can be usedto remedy the effects can be determined.

The President then sought adoption of the programme of work. The RUSSIANFEDERATION proposed that the Plenary be extended to allow the parties to determinehow the SAR should be used in making decisions, particularly regarding the BerlinMandate and how countries will fulfill their obligations. He said these decisions should notbe made by subsidiary bodies. The Executive Secretary noted items 3,4(a) and (b) of theprovisional agenda for the SBSTA stipulate that subsidiary bodies will make initialrecommendations on which the Parties will vote. The out-going SBSTA Chair, TiborFarago, said his group would report its findings on the SAR to the COP. SAUDIARABIA cautioned against a selective approach to the SAR findings before SBSTA'sreport.

Parties proceeded to the adoption of the Agenda (FCCC/CP/1996/1). Under Item 4 (a) onNational Communications from Parties Included in Annex 1, the President reported thatthe United Republic of Tanzania and Qatar are to become signatories to the FCCC beforethe end of the Conference, and Israel will become a non-Annex 1 Party in August. TheCzech Republic, Morocco, and Slovakia have applied to become Annex 1 Parties.Introducing Agenda Item 4 (b), Adoption of the Rules of Procedure, the President said hewould conduct consultations to resolve the issue of rule 42 (voting). SAUDI ARABIAsaid agreement on rule 22 (election of officers) is also pending. Rule 22 should be limitedto regional group representatives. The President said each of the five regional groups areto be represented by two Bureau members and one Bureau member will represent thesmall island developing states (SIDS). SAUDI ARABIA objected to the nomination of aBureau member from Samoa to represent SIDS. The US said it was important to followprecedent in the election of officers to the Bureau and include the SIDS nominee. Partiesproceeded to the election of the Bureau. GERMANY said the SIDS were represented inthe Bureau of the INC in 1991. SAUDI ARABIA said he could not support the electionsas proposed. The President postponed the election of vice-presidents.

Delegates then agreed on the admission of intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganisations as observers. Some delegations then returned to the election of officers andrequested clarification. The Executive Secretary stated that the COP had elected apresident in the morning session and, in the afternoon, heard nominations for 10 othermembers of the Bureau. For 6 of the 7 Vice-Presidents, delegates received thenominations of Alexander Bedritsky (Russian Federation) Rene Castro (Costa Rica), JohnAshe (Antigua and Barbuda), Anthony Clark (Canada), Cornelia Quennet-Theilen(Germany) and Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Samoa). Delegates also received the nominationsof Mohamed M. Ould El Ghaouth (Mauritania) as SBI Chair and Tibor Farago (Hungary)as SBSTA Chair. The representatives of the Asian Group presented nominations fromKuwait and the Philippines, but had not agreed which representative would serve asRapporteur and which as Vice-President. Delegates then discussed rule 22 as applied anda number of possibilities were put forward. It was suggested that the Parties elect the twoofficers for SBSTA and SBI. Regarding the other posts, he noted that the group now hasthe “beginnings” of a Bureau. He also noted that the two ad hoc groups, AGBMand AG13, already had chairs. SBSTA and SBI have only chairs and the COP has apresident. SAMOA questioned how the COP could proceed with only part of the Bureau.The President said that he will conduct consultations and resume the Plenary later todiscuss this item.

The Executive Secretary then discussed documentation for COP-2, and called for a morerational work load spread through 1997. The President described the allocation of workamong the subsidiary bodies, and called upon the SBSTA Chair to report on the technicaladvisory panels. The Chair reported that SBSTA could not agree on modalities for theTAPs.

The President stated that he would consult with the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies on thedivision of labor between SBSTA and SBI, in preparation for a formal decision to betaken at COP-3.

IN THE CORRIDORS

An informal meeting held last week in Frankfurt, sponsored by the government ofGermany, formed the basis for closer cooperation between the secretariats of theConvention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the GEF. According to one participant,relations between the GEF and the CBD are complicated by language in the conventionstating that the GEF shall operate under the "authority" of the CBD, as well as by theabsence of an intersessional mechanism to discuss financial issues (unlike the FCCC). Themeeting established a process for consultations between the two bodies in a revisedMemorandum of Understanding.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

SUBSIDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ADVICE: Thethird session of SBSTA will convene at 10:00 a.m. in room XIX and meet again in theafternoon.

AD HOC GROUP ON ARTICLE 13: A panel discussion and presentation onprocedures relevant to AG13 will convene at 9:30 a.m. in room XXIII.

SUBSIDIARY BODY ON IMPLEMENTATION: The third session of SBI willconvene at 3:00 p.m. in room XX.

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