MEETINGS OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODIES TO THE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
28 JULY - 5 AUGUST 1997
The sixth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI-6) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA-6) and the fifth session of the Ad Hoc Group on Article 13 (AG13-5) will begin on Monday, 28 July 1997 at the Hotel Maritim in Bonn, Germany. The seventh session of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM-7) will begin on Thursday, 31 July.
CSD-5: The fifth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-5) convened in New York from 8-25 April 1997 to complete preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). Under the sectoral issue of atmosphere, discussions centered on the message to emanate from UNGASS regarding the desired outcome of COP-3 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The final text contained a "menu" of five bracketed proposals for consideration at UNGASS. Australia proposed language noting that UNGASS should recommend that the FCCC accelerate negotiations, produce a satisfactory result and recognize the global nature of the problem. The EU, supported by Switzerland, proposed specific emissions reduction targets (15% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010). AOSIS presented its proposed protocol (20% reduction below 1990 levels by 2005) as consistent with the Berlin Mandate. Japan called for agreement on quantified objectives for emission reductions and agreement to elaborate on policies and measures. The US, Australia, Japan, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia objected to including specific negotiating positions in the text and cautioned against prejudging the COP-3 outcome. In the final Plenary, the US added a proposal to the "menu" that urges: adoption of the strongest possible agreement, including legally-binding budgets or targets for developed nations; maximum flexibility in reaching budgets or targets; and participation of all countries in taking meaningful actions to address the problem.
UNGASS: UNGASS, held in New York from 23-27 June 1997, produced a Statement of Commitment and a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. A ministerial group on climate change met on Thursday, 26 June chaired by ministers from Argentina and Japan. Delegations who made proposals in the text explained their positions. Brazil and Switzerland noted that the public would measure the success of UNGASS by its statement on climate change. Japan proposed using language from the Denver G-8 Summit, which stated that at COP-3 the industrialized countries should commit to meaningful, realistic and equitable targets that will result in reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. Furthermore, the agreement must ensure transparency, accountability and flexibility in meeting these targets. The EU proposed text calling for an agreement on a legally-binding commitment for the developed world at FCCC COP-3, including commitments to a significant reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases below the 1990 level by the years 2005 and 2010, as well as to mandatory and recommended policies and measures, including harmonized ones. Saudi Arabia proposed deleting the text and stated that the existing paragraph provided sufficient guidance. Delegates who proposed text met in a contact group to produce a combined text.
The combined text noted that at COP-3 the developed countries should seek legally binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets that will result in significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions within specified time frames such as 2005, 2010 and 2020. Japan objected to "significant" and Australia disapproved of "legally-binding." The Co-Chairs reported the result back to the Committee of the Whole (COW) and delegates agreed to reconvene the ministerial group.
On Friday, 27 June, the Co-Chairs reported to the COW that the ministerial group had held further discussions, but no consensus could be reached. Chair Tolba said that without consensus the paragraph would have to be deleted. Norway, Brazil, AOSIS, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago and the EU expressed strong regret that UNGASS could not agree on recommendations and requested an additional session. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela were skeptical about resolving the issues in the time remaining. The Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and Australia agreed to try again, but cautioned that the group must be open-ended, noting that the use of a small group had led to problems before. The US also noted that difficulties arose because some positions were "stepped on" during discussions. An open-ended group, chaired by Derek Osborn, was convened for a final attempt to reach consensus. He polled participants in the meeting for their positions and drafted a new paragraph.
Further consultations resulted in agreed text stating, inter alia: At the nineteenth special session of the General Assembly, the international community confirmed its recognition of the problem of climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the next century. The leaders of many countries underlined the importance of this in their addresses to the Assembly, and outlined the actions they have in hand, both in their own countries and internationally, to respond. The ultimate goal which all countries share is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This requires efficient and cost-effective policies and measures that will be sufficient to result in a significant reduction in emissions. At this session, countries reviewed the state of preparations for COP-3. All are agreed that it is vital that there should be a satisfactory result. The position of many countries for these negotiations is still evolving, and it was agreed that it would not be appropriate to seek to predetermine the results, although useful interactions on evolving positions took place.
There is already widespread but not universal agreement that it will be necessary to consider legally binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets for Annex I countries that will result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within specified time frames, such as 2005, 2010 and 2020. In addition to establishing targets, there is also widespread agreement that it will be necessary to consider ways and means for achieving them and to take into account the economic, adverse environmental and other effects of such response measures on all countries, particularly developing countries. International cooperation in the implementation of Chapter 9 of Agenda 21, in particular in the transfer of technology to and capacity-building in developing countries, is also essential to promote the effective implementation of the FCCC. There is also a need to strengthen systematic observational networks to identify the possible onset and distribution of climate change and assess potential impacts, particularly at the regional level.
TECHNOLOGIES FOR AIJ CONFERENCE: A conference on technologies for AIJ (Activities Implemented Jointly) was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from 26-29 May 1997. Forty-one AIJ projects are currently underway and this conference provided an opportunity to hear about many others being developed. Discussions ranged from forest management in Latin America to tea-drying in Sri Lanka; from energy efficiency improvement in India to solar power in Crete; from use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery in China to improved cooking facilities and lighting in Africa. The conference brought together 220 delegates from 41 countries representing private industry, academia and government institutions. Speakers identified technologies suitable for reducing emissions through improved energy technology and renewable energy systems, as well as better use of energy in heating and transport; ways of enhancing natural sinks and stores for carbon dioxide were also discussed extensively. Participants also identified hurdles that must be overcome to fulfill the potential of AIJ, including maximizing and equitably sharing benefits from the projects. The proceedings of the conference will be published by IEA; tel: +44 1242 680753; fax +44 1242 680758; e-mail: [email protected]
EIGHTH GLOBAL WARMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE & EXPO:The Eighth Global Warming International Conference & Expo (GW8) was held from 26-29 May 1997 in New York. GW8 concluded with a large number of new findings regarding recent progress in science and policy and held eighteen concurrent sessions chaired by a range of international representatives. Particularly important was the recognition worldwide of Extreme Events (EE), short for extreme climatic events, during the earth's current climatic transition. The economic impacts of EE are a direct result of the interaction between EE and population centers. The rate of the growth in the impact as measured by the economic index EEI (the Extreme Event Index) is observed to be much greater than the growth in population. For example, economic losses due to both storm and flood-related EE have increased sixty-fold in the US between the 1960s and the 1990s, while the population has not even doubled. Participants noted that this rate of increase can only be attributed to global circulation unrest due to heat pollution and greenhouse trapping of reflected solar radiation.
Participants noted that the organization of the CO2 Utilization Consortium (CUC), an industrial group, has been formalized and will oversee and fund the development of CO2 utilization technology and implement policy to support such activities. The Expo showcased new technologies for energy and the environment, as well as journals, books and software devoted to energy and environmental management, air pollution, greenhouse gas mitigation and other topics. The proceedings of GW7 and GW8 can be ordered from the World Resource Review (WRR); +1-630-910-1551; fax: +1-630-910-1561; e-mail: [email protected]
REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON ACTIVITIES IMPLEMENTED JOINTLY: Participants from 25 countries, as well as NGOs, the IPCC, the UNFCCC secretariat, UNDP and the World Bank, met in Cairo from 4-8 July 1997 to discuss the concept of Activities Implemented Jointly under the FCCC. The workshop was organized by the Governments of Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the US Initiative on Joint Implementation and the International Centre for Environment and Development (ICED). The objective of the workshop was to assist in providing an African and Middle East perspective on the ongoing AIJ pilot phase and beyond. Specific items addressed were: review of the status of the AIJ pilot phase; international perspectives on AIJ; case studies of practical examples in different sectors and regions where AIJ could play a role in promoting national development priorities and strategies while providing greenhouse gas benefits; AIJ project development; AIJ finance and market development; possible development of AIJ beyond the pilot phase; and links to COP-3. For more information contact ICED; tel: +20-2-304-6032; fax: +20-2-304-6033; e-mail: [email protected]
EMISSIONS TRADING FORUM: The Policy Forum on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading was launched in Chicago, US from 19-20 June 1997 under the auspices of UNCTAD and the Earth Council and hosted by Centre Financial Products, Ltd. The purpose of the Forum will be to provide timely institutional support to interested governments, corporations and NGOs for the development and implementation of the initial phase of an international greenhouse gas emissions market. The target date for launching the emissions market is set for early 2000. The launching of the Forum at this time was intended to send a strong message of support to governments participating in the FCCC negotiations for their use of market-based instruments to deal with the costly threats posed by climate change. The Forum is expected to meet again in October 1997 to agree on steps needed to establish the emissions trading system. For more information contact UNCTAD; tel: +41-22-907-5834; fax: +41-22-907-02-74; e-mail: [email protected]
INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EXHIBITION: This conference, held from 12-13 June 1997 in Baltimore, US, brought together 300 participants from 9 countries to discuss the growing interest in climate change mitigation efforts. Sponsored by the International Climate Change Partnership (ICCP), the US Environmental Protection Agency and others, the conference featured international policymakers and industry and environmental NGO representatives speaking on specific issues related to climate change debate. The conference sought to introduce the climate change issue to businesses that are unfamiliar with it and provide ideas on possible next steps for companies already integrating it into their long-range corporate strategies. Exhibits featured environmentally friendly technologies and programmes and provided information about emerging technologies for governments and industry. For information contact the ICCP: tel: +1-703-807-4052; fax: +1-703-243-2874.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
SBSTA: SBSTA will meet from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm.
SBI: SBI will meet from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm..
AG13: AG13 will begin at 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm.
ENB ON-LINE COVERAGE OF THE FCCC
The Linkages web site will be featuring daily on-line coverage of the FCCC subidiary bodies at http://enb.iisd.org/. In addition to the daily Earth Negotiations Bulletin, the site will include late-breaking news, photos and RealAudio interviews.