Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 12 No. 211
Wednesday, 4 June 2003
EIGHTEENTH SESSIONS OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODIES OF
THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
4-13 JUNE 2003
The eighteenth sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies
(SB-18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) opens today at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn, Germany.
Delegates will continue to address issues under negotiation since
COP-8 and prepare for the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force.
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and
Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for
Implementation (SBI) are expected to address a range of agenda
items, including methodological issues, such as definitions and
modalities for including afforestation and reforestation activities
under Protocol Article 12 (Clean Development Mechanism), and
financial matters relating to non-Annex I Parties under the UNFCCC,
including the Special Climate Change Fund.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO
Climate change is considered one of the most
serious threats to the global environment, with negative impacts
expected on human health, food security, economic activity, water
and other natural resources, and physical infrastructure. Global
climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising
concentrations of anthropogenically emitted greenhouse gases in the
Earth’s atmosphere are leading to a change in the climate. According
to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the effects
of climate change have already been observed, and a majority of
scientists believe that precautionary and prompt action is
The international political response to climate
change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992. The UNFCCC
sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric
concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid "dangerous interference"
with the climate system. Controlled gases include methane, nitrous
oxide, and, in particular, carbon dioxide. The UNFCCC entered into
force on 21 March 1994. It now has 188 Parties.
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: In 1995, the first
meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) established the
Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, and charged it with reaching
agreement on strengthening efforts to combat climate change.
Following intense negotiations culminating at COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan,
in December 1997, delegates agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that
commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a
market economy (EITs) to achieve quantified emission reduction
targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I Parties,
agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by
at least 5% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 (the first
commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to
country. The Protocol also established three mechanisms to assist
Annex I Parties in meeting their national targets cost-effectively –
an emissions trading system, joint implementation (JI) of
emissions-reduction projects between Annex I Parties, and a Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) that encourages projects in non-Annex I
(developing country) Parties.
At subsequent meetings, Parties negotiated most
of the rules and operational details determining how countries will
cut emissions and measure and assess emissions reductions. To enter
into force, the Protocol must be ratified by 55 Parties to the
UNFCCC, and by Annex I Parties representing at least 55% of the
total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. To date, 109 Parties have
ratified the Protocol, including 31 Annex I Parties, representing
43.9% of the emissions.
THE BUENOS AIRES PLAN OF ACTION: In November
1998, Parties met at COP-4 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and agreed a
decision known as the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA). The BAPA
set COP-6 as the deadline for reaching agreement on the operational
details of the Protocol and on strengthening implementation of the
UNFCCC. Issues to be addressed include rules relating to the
mechanisms, a regime for assessing Parties' compliance, accounting
methods for national emissions and emissions reductions, and rules
on crediting countries for carbon sinks. Issues under the UNFCCC
requiring resolution included questions of capacity building, the
development and transfer of technology, and assistance to those
developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects
of climate change or to actions taken by industrialized countries to
combat climate change.
COP-6 PART I: COP-6 and the resumed SB-13
were held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in November 2000. Positions
on the key issues remained entrenched, with little indication of a
willingness to compromise. During the second week of negotiations,
COP-6 President Jan Pronk (the Netherlands) attempted to facilitate
negotiations on the many disputed political and technical issues by
convening high-level informal Plenary sessions. After almost 36
hours of intense talks in the final two days of COP-6, negotiators
could not agree on a range of issues, particularly financial issues,
supplementarity in the use of the mechanisms, compliance and land
use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). On Saturday afternoon,
25 November, President Pronk announced that delegates had failed to
reach agreement. Delegates agreed to suspend COP-6 and resume
negotiations in 2001.
COP-6 PART II: In March 2001, the US
administration repudiated the Protocol, stating that it considered
the Protocol to be "fatally flawed," as it would damage its economy
and exempt developing countries from emission reduction targets.
Parties reconvened at COP-6 Part II and SB-14, in July 2001, in
Bonn, Germany. After protracted consultations, President Pronk
presented his proposal for a draft political decision. Despite
support from several Parties, disagreements surfaced over the nature
of the compliance regime. After several days of consultations,
ministers agreed to adopt President Pronk’s political decision, with
a revised section on compliance on 25 July 2001. The political
decision – or "Bonn Agreements" – needed to be operationalized
through COP decisions. These decisions were considered a "package,"
and since no agreement was reached on the mechanisms, compliance and
LULUCF, all draft decisions were forwarded to COP-7.
COP-7: Delegates continued discussions on the
Bonn Agreements at COP-7 and SB-15 in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 29
October to 10 November 2001. After lengthy negotiations, a package
deal on LULUCF, mechanisms, Protocol Articles 5 (methodological
issues), 7 (communication of information) and 8 (review of
information), and input to the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) was proposed on 8 November. Although the deal was
accepted by most regional groups, some Annex I Parties, including
Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation,
did not join the consensus. They disputed, among other things,
eligibility requirements and credit banking under the mechanisms.
However, following extensive negotiations, the "Marrakesh Accords"
were agreed, with key features including consideration of LULUCF
Principles and limited banking of units generated by sinks under the
SB-16: Parties met at SB-16 in Bonn from 5-14
June 2002. Participants considered several issues previously left
off the agenda due to the pressing BAPA negotiations. Views on the
direction of the climate process differed, with some Parties looking
back to recent debates and others looking ahead toward the next
commitment period. Many hoped the Protocol could enter into force by
the WSSD in August 2002. The EU and Japan announced their Protocol
ratifications just prior to the WSSD.
COP-8: Delegates to COP-8 and SB-17 met from
23 October to 1 November 2002, in New Delhi, India. On the final day
of COP-8, they adopted the Delhi Declaration on Climate Change
and Sustainable Development. The Declaration reaffirms
development and poverty eradication as overriding priorities in
developing counties, and recognizes Parties’ common but
differentiated responsibilities and national development priorities
and circumstances in the implementation of UNFCCC commitments.
Parties at COP-8 considered institutional and procedural issues
under the Protocol and adopted several decisions, including on the
rules and procedures for the CDM.
WORKSHOP ON DEFINITIONS AND MODALITIES FOR
INCLUDING AFFORESTATION AND REFORESTATION PROJECT ACTIVITIES UNDER
PROTOCOL ARTICLE 12: This workshop was held from 12-14 February
2003, in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. In addition to considering issues
associated with afforestation and reforestation in the CDM, the
workshop assisted governments in the preparation of draft text for
modalities for including afforestation and reforestation project
activities under the CDM in the first commitment period. Key themes
included non-permanence, baselines, additionality, leakage;
socio-economic and environmental impacts, including impacts on
biodiversity and natural ecosystems; and cross-cutting issues.
WORKSHOP ON ADJUSTMENTS UNDER PROTOCOL ARTICLE
5.2: This workshop took place from 7-9 April 2003, in Lisbon,
Portugal, and assessed case studies undertaken by the UNFCCC
Secretariat for simulating the calculation of adjustments under
Article 5.2. The outcome was refined draft technical guidance on
methodologies for adjustments under Article 5.2. SBSTA-18 is
expected to complete the technical guidance.
WORKSHOP ON THE USE OF THE GUIDELINES FOR THE
PREPARATION OF NON-ANNEX I NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS: This
workshop, held in Port Luis, Mauritius, from 8-11 April 2003,
examined the guidelines for the preparation of non-Annex I national
communications agreed at COP-8. Participants heard a number of
presentations on the guidelines, and other reporting guides and
programmes for facilitating the preparation of non-Annex I national
WORKSHOP ON ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS FOR TECHNOLOGY
TRANSFER: This workshop was convened from 9-10 April 2003, in
Ghent, Belgium. The workshop provided an overview of technology
transfer, reviewed the draft technical paper on enabling
environments for transfer of environmentally-sound technology for
consideration by the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT) at
its third meeting, and examined barriers and opportunities to
technology transfer. Working groups discussed ways in which
governments could identify and remove barriers to technology
transfer; and how multilateral lending institutions, bilateral
programmes and the private sector could assist governments.
WORKSHOPS ON INSURANCE AND RISK ASSESSMENT IN THE
CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS, AND ON
INSURANCE-RELATED ACTIONS TO ADDRESS ADVERSE EFFECTS: These two
workshops were held back-to-back from 12-13 May and 14-15 May 2003,
in Bonn. The first workshop heard presentations from reinsurance
companies, researchers and multilateral bodies on the possible roles
of insurance and risk assessment in responding to climate change.
The second workshop focused on insurance-related actions for
addressing the adverse effects of climate change and from the impact
of the implementation of response measures.
MEETINGS OF CONSTITUTED BODIES: The following
UNFCCC constituted bodies held meetings since COP-8. The LDC Expert
Group held its third meeting from 3-5 March 2003, in Samoa. The CDM
Executive Board held its seventh and eighth meetings in Bonn from
20-21 January 2003 and 20-21 March 2003, respectively. The EGTT held
its third meeting from 30-31 May 2003. In addition, pre-sessional
consultations were held on 2 June to discuss registries, and the
Global Climate Observing System second adequacy report.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
SBSTA-18 OPENING PLENARY: SBSTA will meet at
10:00 am and again at 7.00 pm to discuss methodological issues,
including the review of methodological work under the UNFCCC and
Protocol; issues relating to Protocol Articles 5, 7 and 8; issues
relating to reporting and review of greenhouse gas inventories from
Annex I Parties; LULUCF; and emissions resulting from fuel used in
international aviation and maritime transportation. Delegates will
also address the IPCC Third Assessment Report and "good practices"
in Policies and Measures.
SBI-18 OPENING PLENARY: The SBI will open at
3:00 pm to take up organizational matters; financial matters
relating to non-Annex I Parties; implementation of UNFCCC Article
4.8 and 4.9 (adverse effects); administrative and financial matters;
and arrangements for intergovernmental meetings.