Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 12 No. 79
Thursday, June 04 1998
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MEETING OF THE FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES
3 JUNE 1998
The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and
Technical Advice (SBSTA) met in a joint Plenary session in the morning to continue
discussions on mechanisms for cooperative implementation. In the afternoon, SBSTA
discussed cooperation with relevant international organizations and national
communications. SBI began discussions on the second review of the adequacy of commitments
and amendments to Annexes I and II.
Many speakers, such as URUGUAY, NICARAGUA and SAUDI ARABIA, cautioned against straying
from the ultimate objective of the Convention and spending an inordinate amount of time
discussing cooperative mechanisms, which only serve selected countries. The AFRICAN GROUP
said cooperative implementation should not overshadow the review of commitments,
technology transfer and capacity building. CHINA warned that the Kyoto Protocol should not
copy the Montreal Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol's implementation depends on technology and
resource transfers to developing countries. He cautioned against imposing reduction
commitments on developing countries.
NORWAY opposed quantitative caps on the use of flexibility mechanisms. With COLOMBIA,
COSTA RICA and IRAN, he noted they are supplemental to domestic action. SOUTH AFRICA and
IRAN noted that COP-4 cannot finalize work on setting modalities and guidelines for the
mechanisms. SLOVENIA reiterated the urgency of action, calling for the proposed working
groups to provide sufficient input to COP-4 on the elaboration of modalities, rules and
AUSTRALIA, supported by RUSSIA, called for cost-effective mechanisms and said that
credits should be transferable across the three mechanisms for the achievement of the
Protocol's aims. The EU said the AIJ experience gained since COP-1 can provide valuable
guidance on questions of flexibility mechanisms in the Protocol. He proposed that SBSTA's
work program at COP-4 include follow-up to the June 1998 reporting deadline. ARGENTINA
stressed the importance of setting COP-4's priorities and suggested moving on those
issues, such as the CDM, where consensus has been achieved.
GEORGIA cautioned that CDM, in its current form, makes developing countries dependent
on the will of developed countries and said there is a need for financial resources to
assist developing countries. MAURITIUS emphasized CDM for poverty alleviation and ETHIOPIA
called for elaboration on this at COP-4. With COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, SLOVENIA, SENEGAL,
NIGERIA, and IRAN, NORWAY called CDM a tool for sustainable development in non-Annex I
countries that should also contribute to climate change objectives. He said additional
time is needed for inclusion of sinks in CDM.
COLOMBIA and VENEZUELA recommended that CDM projects, inter alia, produce real
emissions reductions and, with COSTA RICA, accord with host country wishes. Supported by
COSTA RICA, NICARAGUA, ARGENTINA and IRAN, COLOMBIA opposed ignoring sinks, noting that
they are also biodiversity deposits. COSTA RICA also opposed re-negotiation on what kinds
of sinks are included. KOREA expressed reservations about the inclusion of forestry under
CDM and cautioned against the temptation to micromanage CDM through extended
bureaucracies. IRAN distinguished CDM from other mechanisms as a multilateral rather than
bilateral mechanism, with international supervision. He cautioned against turning CDM into
a clean energy mechanism. URUGUAY called for further definition and contact group
The AFRICAN GROUP, supported by SOUTH AFRICA, noted that African countries have neither
participated in AIJ nor received funding because donors seem to prefer other regions.
Several countries, such as BURKINA FASO, NIGERIA and the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC,
stressed the need to wait until the end of the AIJ pilot phase before drawing conclusions
on its viability. IRAN favored continuation of the AIJ pilot phase and development of
guidelines for it.
KOREA and NIGERIA stressed that emissions trading should supplement national reductions
and cautioned that rules to govern it must be defined in advance to avoid compliance and
verification problems. CHINA noted that emissions trading is illegal until the COP defines
relevant rules, principles, and guidelines. Supporting emissions trading, the RUSSIAN
FEDERATION said the Russian people had paid a very high price for "hot air" by
reducing their living standards.
tabled a discussion paper on principles, modalities, rules and guidelines for an
international emissions trading regime on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New
Zealand, Norway, Russia and the US. The tradable unit would be Assigned Amount Units
(AAUs). AAUs would be denominated in "CO2 equivalent" and would express one
metric tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions. Each Annex B Party could issue serialized AAUs
from its "assigned amounts." AAUs would be valid until used to offset emissions
for the purposes of contributing to compliance.
Parties could trade directly and/or authorize legal entities to acquire and or transfer
AAUs. Each Annex B Party would need to comply with Article 5 (national emission estimation
systems) and Article 7 (emissions inventories). They must also establish and maintain a
national system for recording their "assigned amounts" and tracking AAUs held,
transferred or acquired. Each Party would also be required to report annually on
activities and be assessed for compliance at the end of the commitment period.
The Chair announced the terms of reference for a joint SBSTA/SBI contact group to
prepare a draft decision(s) on: the division of labor for forthcoming SBI and SBSTA
sessions; substantive issues regarding AIJ, JI, the CDM, and emissions trading; and
elaboration of a work programme.
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR IMPLEMENTATION
On provision for the second review of the adequacy of Annex I Party commitments the
PHILIPPINES, for the G-77/CHINA, supported by GAMBIA, INDIA, BURKINA FASO, SAUDI ARABIA,
CHINA, COLOMBIA, VENEZUELA, BRAZIL, IRAN and KUWAIT said the Kyoto Protocol was the first
step in the review process. At COP-4 Parties would examine the science to assess the
adequacy of those commitments. The group would draft a decision for the SBI.
The EU welcomed provisions in the Kyoto Protocol for a review at MOP-2 and for
initiating consideration of second period commitments. Noting the requirement for
increasingly global participation, he said the EU was ready for discussions with all
Parties at COP- 4 and beyond, under FCCC Article 7.2, on regular review of the Convention
implementation. He noted FCCC provision for non-Annex I Parties to opt for targets.
AUSTRALIA said all the scientific evidence indicates that actions by Annex I countries
alone would be insufficient. The US noted findings that commitments are inadequate due to
the small number of Parties involved, and called for an item on COP-4's agenda on
voluntary commitments by non-Annex I Parties.
BURKINA FASO emphasized obligations related to developing countries, specifically
technology transfer. CHINA, supported by HUNGARY, called for a review of FCCC
implementation, not just commitments. CANADA said future reviews should cover the effect
of actions by all Parties over time and that SBSTA should provide scientific and technical
information for such review. HUNGARY noted many Annex I countries will meet their FCCC
obligations. He opposed giving up SBI consideration of the review. SAUDI ARABIA
recommended discussing non-Annex I Parties' commitments only after the Kyoto Protocol
comes into force.
SAUDI ARABIA, GAMBIA, COLOMBIA, IRAN and INDIA opposed any consideration of voluntary
commitments at COP-4. The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC called for a decision on the adequacy
of Annex I commitments before consideration of other country commitments. SWITZERLAND said
the second review should, inter alia, address stabilization of GHG emissions by Annex I
Parties, and, citing Article 7.2 (a), said the issue of adequacy should not be restricted
to Annex I Parties. IRAN said it is natural to assess new Annex I commitments.
The EU noted
that the scientific knowledge that demonstrates the inadequacy of commitments is clear. He
noted that Article 7 discusses review of "implementation" of the Convention, not
just targets. The US noted that the objectives of the Convention cannot be achieved simply
through Article 4.2(a) or (b). CHINA insisted that Article 7's reference to
"the" Parties does not include "all" Parties and warned "the
North" that pushing too hard risks complete failure. Consensus was reached not to
request SBSTA for more information yet. There was no consensus on the Chair's proposal for
a contact group on the issue. Delegates agreed to wait for a forthcoming G-77 draft
proposal on the review.
On review of information and possible decisions under Article 4.2 (f) (amendments to
the annexes), AUSTRALIA, CANADA and the EU requested information on Turkey's approach to
responsibilities. The EU said all OECD countries should have stated commitments. The US
said any decision on review should include a provision that it be a regular item on the
COP agenda. The Chair requested a draft decision.
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ADVICE
On cooperation with relevant international organizations, the MARSHALL ISLANDS sought
clarification from IPCC regarding how regional implications will be covered in the Third
Assessment Report(TAR). He supported establishing an interagency committee on the climate
The US discussed the current capacity of the IPCC to undertake further methodological
work, the structure envisioned by IPCC to accommodate the short- and long-term needs of
the Parties, and the expertise required to support work.
The US, AUSTRALIA and the EU urged Parties to prioritize observatory systems and
highlighted the deteriorating conditions of the systems in use. The EU and UZBEKISTAN
sought GEF resources to assist developing countries and countries with economies in
transition in their observational work. The US, supported by JAPAN and the EU, called for
collaboration with ICAO and IMO specifically in studies on bunker emissions.
Some Parties, including the MARSHALL ISLANDS, SAUDI ARABIA and the G-77/CHINA, objected
to the establishment of an intergovernmental body on economic instruments since this work
is currently being done by IPCC Working Group 3, and suggested that UNEP channel its
resources and efforts through the IPCC. UGANDA underscored the absence of climate
information on Africa and sought support for meteorological and hydrological services.
IRAN asked if IPCC would address the climatic impact of solar cycles.
On Annex I national communications, the EU called for a Secretariat report on the
revisions proposed by Parties for consideration at SBSTA-9 and COP-5. The MARSHALL ISLANDS
said stricter adherence to existing guidelines, rather than full-scale revision, may be
needed. The US highlighted the importance of inventories and sought revisions for
guidelines on policies and measures, national circumstances and technology transfer.
CANADA cited examples of inconsistencies in national communications stemming from a lack
of clarity in the guidelines and said he would make a written submission. SWITZERLAND said
the Secretariat should record the difficulties cited by countries and called for revision
of in-depth review projects.
On non-Annex I communications, the Chair noted that SBI would consider this item.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Reactions to the non-paper on emissions trading were mixed. Some representatives of the
submitting countries expressed satisfaction with its terms and said they were glad to have
a tangible product for discussion. Other developed countries were apparently surprised at
the timing of the non-paper's introduction and number of proponents. Some developing
countries were very hesitant to offer substantive comments until they fully understood its
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
SBSTA: SBSTA will meet at 10:00 am in the Maritim Room.
SBI: SBI will meet at 10:00 am in the Beethoven Room.
SPECIAL EVENT: Former AGBM Chair Estrada will speak at "Kyoto Protocol:
Explanations and Reflections" at 6:00 pm in a room TBA.