Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 12 No. 97
Monday, November 16 1998
REPORT OF THE FOURTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN FRAMEWORK
CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
2-13 NOVEMBER 1998
The Fourth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(FCCC) was held from 2-13 November 1998 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was attended by
over 5,000 participants. During the two-week meeting, delegates deliberated decisions for
the COP during the ninth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI-9) and
the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA-9). Issues related to
the Kyoto Protocol were considered in joint SBI/SBSTA sessions. A high-level segment,
which heard statements from over 100 ministers and heads of delegation, was convened on
Thursday, 12 November.
Following hours of high-level closed door negotiations and a final plenary
session that concluded early Saturday morning, delegates adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of
Action. Under the Plan of Action, the Parties declared their determination to strengthen
the implementation of the Convention and prepare for the future entry into force of the
Kyoto Protocol. The Plan contains the Parties resolution to demonstrate substantial
progress on: the financial mechanism; the development and transfer of technology; the
implementation of FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9, as well as Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14;
activities implemented jointly (AIJ); the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol; and the
preparations for COP/MOP-1.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted on 9 May 1992,
and was opened for signature at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in June
1992. The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994, 90 days after receipt of the
50th ratification. It currently has been ratified by 176 countries.
COP-1: The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the FCCC (COP-1)
took place in Berlin from 28 March - 7 April 1995. In addition to addressing a number of
important issues related to the future of the Convention, delegates reached agreement on
what many believed to be the central issue before COP-1 adequacy of commitments,
the "Berlin Mandate." The result was to establish an open-ended Ad Hoc Group on
the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) to begin a process toward appropriate action for the period
beyond 2000, including the strengthening of the commitments of Annex I Parties through the
adoption of a protocol or another legal instrument.
COP-1 also requested the Secretariat to make arrangements for sessions of SBSTA and
SBI. SBSTA would serve as the link between scientific, technical and technological
assessments, the information provided by competent international bodies, and the
policy-oriented needs of the COP. During the AGBM process, SBSTA addressed several issues,
including the treatment of the IPCC's Second Assessment Report (SAR). SBI was created to
develop recommendations to assist the COP in the review and assessment of the
implementation of the Convention and in the preparation and implementation of its
decisions. SBI also addressed several key issues during the AGBM process, such as the
national communications and activities implemented jointly (AIJ).
The Ad Hoc Group on Article 13 (AG13) was set up to consider the establishment of a
multilateral consultative process available to Parties to resolve questions on
implementation. AG13-1, held from 30-31 October 1995 in Geneva, decided to request
Parties, non-Parties, and intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations to make
written submissions in response to a questionnaire on a multilateral consultative process
(MCP). Delegates continued their discussion over the course of three meetings. At their
fifth session, they agreed that the MCP should be advisory rather than supervisory in
nature and AG13 should complete its work by COP-4.
AD HOC GROUP ON THE BERLIN MANDATE: The AGBM met eight times between August 1995 and
COP-3 in December 1997. During the first three sessions, delegates focused on analyzing
and assessing possible policies and measures to strengthen the commitments of Annex I
Parties, how Annex I countries might distribute or share new commitments and whether
commitments should take the form of an amendment or protocol. AGBM-4, which coincided with
COP-2 in Geneva in July 1996, completed its in-depth analysis of the likely elements of a
protocol and States appeared ready to prepare a negotiating text. At AGBM-5, which met in
December 1996, delegates recognized the need to decide whether or not to allow mechanisms
that would provide Annex I Parties with flexibility in meeting quantified emission
limitation and reduction objectives (QELROs).
As the Protocol was drafted during the sixth and seventh sessions of the AGBM, in March
and August 1997, respectively, delegates "streamlined" a framework compilation
text by merging or eliminating some overlapping provisions within the myriad of proposals.
Much of the discussion centered on a proposal from the EU for a 15% cut in a
"basket" of three greenhouse gases by the year 2010 compared to 1990 levels. In
October 1997, as AGBM- 8 began, US President Bill Clinton included a call for
"meaningful participation" by developing countries in the negotiating position
he announced in Washington. With those words, the debates that shaped agreement back in
1995 resurfaced, with an insistence on G-77/China involvement once again linked to the
level of ambition acceptable by the US. In response, the G-77/China distanced itself from
attempts to draw developing countries into agreeing to anything that could be interpreted
as new commitments.
COP-3: The Third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) to the FCCC was held from 1 -
11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. Over 10,000 participants, including representatives from
governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and the press, attended the Conference,
which included a high-level segment featuring statements from over 125 ministers.
Following a week and a half of intense formal and informal negotiations, including a
session that began on the final evening and lasted into the following day, Parties to the
FCCC adopted the Kyoto Protocol on 11 December.
In the Kyoto Protocol, Annex I Parties to the FCCC agreed to commitments with a view to
reducing their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) by at least 5% below 1990
levels between 2008 and 2012. The Protocol also establishes emissions trading, "joint
implementation" between developed countries, and a "clean development
mechanism" (CDM) to encourage joint emissions reduction projects between developed
and developing countries. As of 13 November 1998, 60 countries have signed the Kyoto
POST-KYOTO FCCC MEETINGS: The subsidiary bodies of the FCCC met from 2-12 June
1998 in Bonn, Germany. These were the first formal FCCC meetings since the adoption of the
Kyoto Protocol. SBSTA-8 agreed to draft conclusions on, inter alia, cooperation with
relevant international organizations, methodological issues, and education and training.
SBI-8 reached conclusions on, inter alia, national communications, the financial mechanism
and the second review of adequacy of Annex I Party commitments. In its sixth session, the
AG13-6 concluded its work on the functions of the Multilateral Consultative Process (MCP).
After joint SBI/SBSTA consideration and extensive contact group debates on the flexibility
mechanisms, delegates could only agree to a compilation document containing proposals from
the G- 77/China, the EU and the US on the issues for discussion and frameworks for
REPORT OF COP-4
In opening plenary on Monday, 2 November, COP-3 President Hiroshi Ohki (Japan) recalled
the important role played by COP-3 in responding to the Berlin Mandate and said COP-4
faces the challenge of maintaining the political momentum created in Kyoto. He noted the
need to review existing economic structures and re-examine lifestyles.
Maria Julia Alsogaray, Secretary of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development of
Argentina, was elected President of COP-4. She noted that while Argentina was not one of
the countries that has "historic responsibilities" for the climate change
problem, it wished to belong to the group holding future responsibilities for commitment
leading to a solution. She said she wanted COP-4 to signal a new momentum in the process
and said an action plan for future work should be established. She stated that developing
countries share some responsibility for climate change and they have an ethical duty to
ensure sustainable development.
Michael Zammit Cutajar, Executive Secretary of the FCCC, noted that this was the first
COP to be held in a developing country. He anticipated that an action plan with ambitious
and politically firm deadlines would be created as a result of this meeting. He said COP-4
presented an opportunity to revitalize the FCCC, perhaps through strengthening the
transfer of technology and know-how and financial support. COP-4 could mark the occasion
where the business community increased its role in combating climate change through
efficient programmes conducted in an equitable way.
The following delegates were then elected as officers of the COP: Papa Cham (The
Gambia); Mohamed Al Sabban (Saudi Arabia); Tengiz Gzirishvili (Georgia); Harald Dovland
(Norway); Ole Plougmann (Denmark); Espen Rřnneberg, (Marshall Islands); John Ashe
(Antigua and Barbuda); Bakary Kante (Senegal); Kok Kee Chow (Malaysia); and Maciej
On organizational matters, the Executive Secretary proposed changes to the provisional
agenda (FCCC/CP/1998/1). SAUDI ARABIA, supported by KUWAIT, proposed addressing Protocol
Articles 2.3 and 3.14 (adverse impacts) as a separate item on the agenda. MAURITANIA noted
that no objections were raised to the proposed agenda changes during informal
consultations on 1 November. As a compromise, the Executive Secretary proposed adding
Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14 in parentheses to the agenda item on FCCC Articles 4.8 and
4.9 (adverse impacts). SAUDI ARABIA, supported by VENEZUELA, accepted the proposal, but
stressed that discussion under Item 5 (matters related to the Kyoto Protocol) should allow
time for Articles 2.3 and 3.14. The plenary adjourned to allow the subsidiary bodies to
begin their work.
On Friday, 6 November, delegates met in a "stock-taking" plenary. COP-4
President Alsogaray offered condolences to the Caribbean and Latin American countries
devastated by Hurricane Mitch. She noted that floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes had
profoundly affected countries around the world and suggested that "Mother
Nature" was reminding delegates that urgent action was needed. Delegates observed a
moment of silence for the recent tragedies at the request of INDONESIA, on behalf of the
G-77/China. He also proposed that the Secretariat draft a statement of sympathy for the
affected countries. The President also reported that Antigua and Barbuda ratified the
Kyoto Protocol on 3 November.
Delegates also heard reports from the Chairs of the Subsidiary Bodies. The Chair of
AG13, Patrick Széll (UK), presented the draft decision on the Multilateral Consultative
Process (FCCC/CP/1998/L.3). He reported that Parties had accepted the thrust of the
proposal. However, delegates did not agree on the size and composition of the Multilateral
Consultative Committee. The President said she would hold intersessional meetings to
tackle outstanding issues.
Delegates also heard statements from: Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the UN
Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD); William Kennedy, Senior Officer for the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Prodipto Ghosh, Senior
Environment Specialist from the Asian Development Bank (ADB); and Walter Arensberg, Chief
of the Environmental Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); and the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat.
Voluntary Commitments: During the plenary on Monday, 2 November, delegates discussed
voluntary commitments by non-Annex I Parties (Agenda Item 6) when considering the agenda.
ARGENTINA recalled its request to include this item on the agenda and noted that no
consensus had emerged despite its efforts to encourage consultations.
INDONESIA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, said this issue had been deliberated at length,
but no consensus had been reached. He proposed adoption of the agenda without Item 6.
INDIA recalled that the debate at Kyoto rejected the idea of voluntary commitments,
stating it was not implied in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
SAUDI ARABIA, KUWAIT, VENEZUELA and ALGERIA cautioned that discussion of the issue at this
stage would be divisive and distract from discussions of compliance and continuing
increases in developed countries' emissions. BRAZIL described the FCCC as an exercise in
burden sharing, recognizing differentiated responsibilities between Annex I and non-Annex
I Parties. He noted that non-Annex I Parties are well ahead in meeting their existing
commitments and, with CHINA, cautioned that this item was not intended to promote the
FCCC, but to help some countries avoid existing commitments. IRAN and UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
noted that neither the FCCC nor the Kyoto Protocol provides for voluntary commitments and
cautioned that the discussion could lead to the imposition of commitments on developing
CHINA noted that developed country emissions were projected to be 5% above 1990 levels
by 2000 and 13% above 1990 levels by 2010. He distinguished developing country
"survival emissions" from developed country "luxury emissions" and
said developing countries risked losing financial assistance and technology transfer under
the FCCC. He said voluntary commitments would create a new category of Parties under the
FCCC and could destroy the unity of the G-77/China. He said the COP Presidency should
remain neutral. QATAR, TOGO, CUBA, THAILAND and UGANDA supported the G-77/China.
ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA and SOUTH AFRICA said methodological and institutional issues
relating to the flexibility mechanisms, such as the CDM, should be the focus of
deliberation. SAMOA acknowledged that the Convention and its objectives stood to gain from
a further discussion of voluntary commitments, but discussion at this stage would be
detrimental. Discussions should focus on what could be expected from developing countries
and initiatives Annex I countries could take to assist developing countries. COLOMBIA
suggested that the vulnerability of developing nations, rather than their commitments, be
discussed. CHILE said several developing countries were making serious efforts to limit
GHG emissions and favored an exchange of views on voluntary cooperation, without entailing
binding obligations or ignoring the principle of common but differentiated
AUSTRALIA noted that Annex I countries alone cannot fulfill the goals of the FCCC and
said it was a sensitive issue that should be discussed in a non-controversial manner. With
JAPAN, she said that non-Annex I Parties wishing to adopt voluntary commitments must be
given an opportunity to consider their options under the Kyoto Protocol.
The US expressed regret that divisions among Parties would prevent delegates from
putting all the issues on the table at this session. An open and full discussion on
options could clarify a number of questions, including: how Parties would join Annex B;
how base years would be determined; how Parties would develop targets; and whether Parties
would still be able to host CDM projects. With JAPAN and CANADA, NEW ZEALAND supported a
discussion on this item. He said if this were not done, the President should use her
prerogative to facilitate informal consultations. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION reminded
delegates that within 15 years, emissions from non-Annex I countries would exceed those of
Annex I countries. The CZECH REPUBLIC, with HUNGARY and SLOVENIA, supported the inclusion
of Item 6 and noted that it could foster useful debate and dialogue. POLAND said if
Parties wanted to adhere to FCCC goals, they should be encouraged to assume voluntary
commitments. This dialogue would reflect the dynamic situation in the global economy and
changes within Parties.
AUSTRIA, on behalf of the EU, said the question of broadening commitments in the long
term is necessary and unavoidable. He recognized the achievements of many non-Annex I
countries. He said it may not be possible to resolve this issue in plenary and proposed
that the COP President take a decision on how to proceed.
ARGENTINA said no aspect of the FCCC and the Protocol limited its ability to raise the
issue of voluntary commitments. He said the manner in which delegates address the issue
would require discussion. Delegates adopted the provisional agenda without Item 6, as no
consensus existed on its inclusion. The President noted that as several Parties had
expressed interest in continuing discussion, she would facilitate informal consultations.
CHINA cautioned against the proposed informal consultations, stating they could jeopardize
the neutrality of the presidency. INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA observed that the item had been
deleted because there was no consensus on further discussion. Voluntary commitments should
not be considered and the President should not participate in consultations.
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE
SBSTA, chaired by Kok Kee Chow (Malaysia), held ten meetings, including several joint
sessions with SBI to discuss, inter alia, the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. SBSTA considered:
land use change and forestry; impact of single projects on emissions; research and
systematic observations; methodological issues; scientific and methodological aspects of
the proposal by Brazil; development and transfer of technology; and other matters. Several
contact groups met to further discuss issues and draft conclusions. For many issues,
delegates could not reach agreement in the contact groups and the draft decisions were
forwarded to the COP with brackets. Outstanding issues were then discussed behind closed
doors in high level consultations and the decisions were presented in final plenary.
Land use change and forestry: On Tuesday, 3 November, Paul Maclons (South Africa) and
Maciej Sadowski (Poland) reported on a recent workshop they co-chaired at the request of
SBSTA-8. The workshop focused on data availability based on definitions used by Parties
and international organizations, including their implications, in relation to Kyoto
Protocol Article 3.3 (forests). The workshop coincided with an IPCC expert meeting that
aimed to prepare an outline for the special report. The Co- Chairs noted that SBSTA may
need to clarify whether and when the IPCC should develop detailed tables, formats and
instructions for addressing the implications of the Kyoto Protocol on the Revised
Guidelines for national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories.
BRAZIL noted that this issue alone could undermine the Kyoto Protocol if the COP takes
a wrong decision on how to account for the influence of forestry on GHG concentrations.
NORWAY said the workshop revealed that credits for carbon sinks under Protocol Article 3.3
might be negative, while the forest, as a whole, remains a sink. SWITZERLAND, with the
MARSHALL ISLANDS, favored deferring work related to Articles 3.3 and 3.4 (agricultural
soils) until the IPCC special report is available. CANADA highlighted the capacity of
soils to sequester carbon and noted the opportunity this presented to farmers in pursuing
sustainable land management practices. The PHILIPPINES, the MARSHALL ISLANDS and ARGENTINA
supported an increase in the IPCC budget to ensure full participation by developing
country experts. The US underscored the ancillary benefits of sequestration activities and
said excluding these would violate the Convention. JAPAN submitted two papers relating to
Articles 3.3 and 3.4 containing items to be examined and supporting the work schedule
agreed at SBSTA-8.
On Tuesday, 10 November, delegates considered the Chairs draft conclusions on
land use change and forestry (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.7). The conclusions called for the
organization of a second SBSTA workshop prior to the tenth session to focus on issues
related to Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol (such as methodologies, uncertainties, and
research and data needs) and welcomed the US offer to provide a venue. SBSTA invited
Parties to provide submissions on issues to be considered at the workshop. At the request
of the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and other Parties, the title of the draft conclusion was amended
to read "land use, land use change and forestry." The draft conclusions were
adopted as amended.
The COP adopted the decision on land use, land use change and forestry in final plenary
Impact of single projects on emissions: On Tuesday, 3 November, ICELAND submitted a
draft decision that provides for process emissions from a single project, coming into
operation after 1990 and contributing more than 5%, in the first commitment period, to the
total greenhouse gas emissions of an Annex B Party, to be reported separately and not be
included in the national total. This would allow the Party to exceed its assigned amount
provided that the total emissions of the Party are less than 0.05% of Annex I emissions in
1990. ICELAND said this was necessary in small economies because of the high proportional
impact of single projects.
The MARSHALL ISLANDS, supported by BRAZIL, BARBADOS and TUVALU, said the draft decision
would lead to special dispensations prior to the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force and
could create an incentive for emissions increases in Annex I countries. With AUSTRIA,
CANADA and BARBADOS, he requested more time for consultations. AUSTRALIA recognized the
impact of single projects on small economies and supported establishing guidelines and
methodologies to specify circumstances under which single projects could be accommodated.
CANADA and BRAZIL said the draft decision could set a precedent affecting the integrity of
The US said the differentiation in assigned amounts in the Protocol allows for
differences in national circumstances. He stated that Iceland's draft decision was
consistent with the Protocol. ICELAND noted that this issue was identified at COP-3 and it
was raised now to facilitate ratification of the Protocol. He distinguished between
significant proportional impacts resulting from planned projects, and unexpected events.
ANTIGUA and BARBUDA opposed the idea of exceptions to the Kyoto Protocol.
On Tuesday, 10 November, delegates considered the Chairs draft conclusions
(FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.9), which were based on informal consultations. Under the
conclusions, SBSTA would further consider the issue at its tenth session. Supporting the
draft decision, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) cautioned against granting
exemptions prior to the Protocol's entry into force and said Parties should explore other
options. ICELAND stressed that only projects with demonstrable global benefit would fall
under the draft decision, if they could not be accommodated within the Party's assigned
amount. On the issue of precedence, he said other cases should be valued on their own
merits. The draft conclusions were accepted for forwarding to the COP. COP-4 adopted a
decision on the issue in final plenary (FCCC/CP/1998/L.8).
Research and systematic observation: On Wednesday, 4 November, Global Climate Observing
Systems (GCOS) presented a Report on the Adequacy of Global Climate Observing Systems. It
recommended, inter alia, that Parties prepare national plans and exchange relevant data.
The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) also made a presentation. Following a number of
statements, the SBSTA Chair noted an emerging consensus to address the deterioration of
observing systems and proposed informal consultations chaired by Dr. Sue Barrell
(Australia) and Dr. Mohammed Mhita (Tanzania). Delegates continued discussing the GCOS
Report and the significance of its work during SBSTA plenary and called for expansion of
research and systematic observation. Many highlighted the need to focus research and
systematic observation systems on developing countries and issues that were relevant to
them to combat the deterioration of these systems.
On Monday, 9 November, delegates considered draft conclusions of the informal
consultations on research and systematic observation (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.6). The draft
conclusions outlined decisions to develop an action plan to consider options for
implementation and requested the Secretariat to compile a report on priorities for action
to improve global observing systems in relation to the needs of the Convention. The
RUSSIAN FEDERATION proposed inclusion of systems for the measurement of GHGs and other
atmospheric components, reference to satellite systems for data collection, and
distinction between anthropogenic and natural climate change variations. He suggested that
the draft be amended to indicate that national meteorological systems also measure GHG
emissions. Delegates debated references to atmospheric observing systems and measurement
of greenhouse gas concentrations and agreed to text that "urges Parties to actively
support national meteorological and atmospheric observing systems, including measurement
of greenhouse gases." Delegates also debated language requesting Parties to submit
information on their participation in global climate observing systems and requesting
SBSTA to report to COP- 5 on developments regarding observational networks. The decision
was adopted as amended.
SBSTA also considered the Chairs recommendation on the relationship between
efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer and efforts to safeguard the global
climate system (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.8). The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the process was moving
ahead too quickly and there was no need to prepare a document to be considered at the next
COP. The Chair explained that a "step by step approach" was embodied in the
document, from the invitation to various bodies to provide information to the report by
the SBSTA to the next COP. The Chair clarified that the decision on the matter would be
taken at SBSTA-11, which would give the Secretariat ample time. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION
suggested deleting the requirement of a report from the Secretariat, since the IPCC Report
could provide the required information. The Chair clarified there would be two separate
reports and the draft decision was adopted, despite the objection of the Russian
Federation to portions of the text. COP-4 adopted the decision on the issue in final
Methodological Issues for GHG Inventories: SBSTA considered this issue under the agenda
item on Other matters. On Thursday, 5 November, SBSTA Chair Kok Kee Chow
explained that the methodological issues relating to Annex I national communications would
be discussed at an expert workshop to be held in December by the Secretariat
(FCCC/SBSTA/1998/7, FCCC/SBSTA/1998/8, FCCC/SBSTA/1998/MISC.6 and Add.1). The Secretariat
described work conducted and previous meetings held and outlined the plan for development
of appropriate guidelines. The conclusions of the workshop would be discussed at SBSTA-10.
John Christensen (UNEP) provided background to an international collaborative report on
methodological issues. The US called for the resolution of these issues and expected to
use them to develop guidelines and national measurement systems that could be ratified by
COP-6. The US proposed that the December workshop consider methodological, reporting,
review and assessment issues. NORWAY sought continual re-evaluation of inventory data,
including base years, as methodologies improve. Chair Chow proposed that he prepare a
draft decision for consideration by SBSTA.
With SWITZERLAND, the EU recognized that there is a link between the Montreal and Kyoto
Protocols. He requested the subsidiary bodies to provide a list of available technologies
to limit and reduce emissions of HFCs and PFCs. The US, with AUSTRALIA, said there should
be coordination between international environmental agreements, but the process required
careful consideration given the possible implications for industry. He proposed that SBSTA
consider the impact of the phase out of substances covered under the Montreal Protocol and
asked that they consult with that body. Chair Chow proposed holding consultations on this
On Tuesday, 10 November, delegates considered the draft conclusions
(FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.10) on methodological issues. They noted the preparations of a
workshop to be held from 9-11 December to resolve the identified methodological issues on
GHG inventories. It requested the Secretariat to, inter alia, prepare a report on the
revised guidelines for Annex I communications, particularly on the GHG inventory section,
and consult with the IPCC on a comprehensive joint plan for the inventory programme. The
conclusions were adopted by SBSTA.
SCIENTIFIC AND METHODOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE Proposal BY Brazil: On Tuesday, 3
November, delegates discussed the scientific and methodological aspects of a proposal from
Brazil, which was made during the AGBM process and forwarded by COP-3 to SBSTA. BRAZIL
described it as the allocation of responsibilities among different emitters based on their
actions as measured by the increase in global temperatures, rather than by emissions.
INDONESIA supported discussion of the issue. GEORGIA stressed that monitoring of GHGs
needed enhancement. The US said using temperature change as the sole indicator of
responsibility ignored relevant socio-economic factors.
On Monday, 9 November, delegates adopted draft conclusions on the scientific and
methodological aspects of the proposal by Brazil. Under the conclusions, SBSTA decided to
consider the issue further and called on Brazil to report at SBSTA's next session. The
conclusions were adopted by SBSTA.
Development and transfer of technology: On Thursday, 5 November, SBSTA considered
development and transfer of technology (FCCC/CP/1998/6; FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.5 and Add.1-2;
FCCC/TP/1998/1; FCCC/CP/1998/11/Add.1). The G-77/CHINA said without practical technical
know-how, technology transfer would be impossible. ARGENTINA, with AOSIS, stressed the
need to consider adaptation as well as mitigation. He supported a role for the Secretariat
in linking providers and recipients of technology and for international organizations in
providing resources. With GRENADA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, CHINA emphasized the role of
national governments and international organizations and said technology transfer should
be on non- commercial and preferential terms. She added that transfer of technology
relates to the Convention and should not be linked to the Kyoto Protocol. She questioned
assessment of experiences, noting minimal progress in technology transfer since 1992, and
favored focusing on existing technologies over assessment of emerging technologies.
Noting the need for an enabling environment and the potential of the CDM, CANADA and
AUSTRALIA said the private sector should be the main vehicle for technology transfer. The
REPUBLIC OF KOREA and CANADA supported work on inventories for sources of new technologies
and gap identification. AUSTRALIA supported analysis of barriers to technology transfer
and suggested SBSTA draw on its roster of experts. He proposed the establishment of an
Internet-based network to enhance information dissemination. With the US, the REPUBLIC OF
KOREA said debates on conceptual issues should not impede progress of the work programme.
The US proposed that the Secretariat prepare a report on technology transfer and
development efforts by Parties for consideration by SBSTA at its next session and endorsed
the Secretariat's proposal to establish a consultative process to develop consensus on
next steps. A contact group chaired by Wanna Tanunchaiwatana (Thailand) and Renata Christ
(European Commission) was convened to discuss the issue.
On Thursday, 5 November, a contact group discussed three draft decisions proposed by
the US, the G-77/China and the EU (FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.5/Add.3). The US said communications
between Parties were hindered by the differing understandings of the issues. He said
technology transfer should be based on country specific needs and proposed that reference
be made to successful programmes. He supported the Secretariat's proposal for a
consultative process that would facilitate dialogue between Parties.
The G-77/China proposal focused on identifying means of linking the issues and
providing an interface between the providers of technology and the recipients. It proposed
a technology transfer mechanism (TTM) "to assist developing country Parties to obtain
their needed environmentally sound technologies and know-how, conducive to addressing
climate change, on non-commercial and preferential terms and thus contribute to the
ultimate objective of the Convention." There was consensus on the capacity building
section of the G-77/China proposal, which called for efforts to enhance endogenous
capacities and provide enabling environments. The US opposed the G-77/China proposal for a
TTM since it would be difficult to agree on its terms of reference. He also opposed the
reference to "non-commercial, preferential terms." He recalled that the
reference was rejected when the Convention was being negotiated. The delegates debated,
inter alia: the necessity, possible form and functions of the TTM; issues relating to the
transfer of public domain technology; the features of a consultative process; and the role
of dialogue between Parties.
The Chair noted the emerging consensus on: the need for progress; the terms outlined in
the capacity building section of the G-77/China proposal; and the need for dialogue
consultations and information exchange. She noted that there was a convergence between
aspects of the Parties' positions, although an agreement on terminology was needed. She
said there was disagreement on whether to have a
"mechanism/process/system/facility," its forms and functions, and the elements
for immediate action. She proposed that the technology transfer aspects of the three
proposals be integrated into a working document for discussion in the working group. On
Friday, 6 November, the contact group on technology transfer continued discussions on the
proposed draft decision.
On Tuesday, 10 November, in SBSTA plenary, delegates considered the draft conclusions
on technology transfer (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.11) requesting the SBSTA Chair to establish a
consultative process, which would consist of regional workshops and meetings to implement
FCCC Article 4.5 (technology transfer). Parties were invited to provide submissions to the
Secretariat by 15 March 1999 in response to the issues listed in the annex to the
Delegates adopted most of the text unchanged, modifying the preamble to reflect the
role of the private sector in some countries. A paragraph requesting SBSTA to establish a
consultative process to consider the issues listed in the annex engendered debate. The
G-77/CHINA favored retaining reference to a TTM. The group also said the paragraph should
be considered in conjunction with a bracketed reference in the annex, which required
consideration of appropriate mechanisms for technology transfer with the FCCC. The
PHILIPPINES suggested that a body was needed to operationalize the process, adding that
experts involved in the consultative process should be from the FCCC roster of experts.
The US, with the EU, said the aim of the consultative process should be "meaningful
and effective action." The G-77/CHINA indicated willingness to accept
"meaningful and effective action" if brackets were removed from the annex.
The Chair closed the formal meeting and began informal discussions. The EU said the
annex was not a negotiated text and supported the US proposal to leave the debate to the
high-level segment, as it related to other issues under negotiation. The Chair proposed
compromise wording. After some debate, the Chair invited the EU, the US and the G-77/China
to discuss the issue informally.
SBSTA reconvened at approximately 12:30 am. Chair Chow reported that participants in
the afternoon's consultations had agreed to let the Chair make a proposal. He proposed the
following: "to achieve agreement on a framework for meaningful and effective
actions." The reference to "technology transfer mechanism" would be
deleted. The text would also have SBSTA draw from the roster of experts. A bracketed
reference in the annex asked whether existing multilateral mechanisms were sufficient.
The Chair attempted to accept the text for forwarding to the COP, but the US objected.
SBSTA accepted the text, and the Chair said the record would note the US objection. The
US, supported by JAPAN, said the action was inappropriate and a statement in the record
was insufficient. He said the record should indicate that the decision was accepted in the
face of objection.
In final plenary, delegates adopted the decision on development and transfer of
technology (FCCC/CP/1998/L.16). The decision requests SBSTA to establish a consultative
process to consider the preliminary list of issues and questions and make recommendations
on how they should be addressed in order to achieve agreement on a framework for
meaningful and effective action to enhance technology transfer implementation under the
Report of the session: On Tuesday, 10 November, SBSTA adopted its draft report for the
ninth session (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/L.8). The final report will include the RUSSIAN
FEDERATION's objection to procedural steps embodied in the recommendation on the
relationship between the Montreal Protocol and the FCCC (FCCC/SBSTA/1998/CRP.8).
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR IMPLEMENTATION
SBI, chaired by Bakary Kante (Senegal), met eight times, including several joint
sessions with SBSTA. SBI considered: implementation of FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9; review
of information/possible decisions under Decision 9/CP.1; second national communications
from Annex I Parties; national communications from Non-Annex I countries; financial
mechanism; administrative and financial matters; and schedule of meetings for 2000-2001.
Several contact groups met to further discuss issues and draft conclusions. For many
issues, delegates could not reach agreement in the contact groups and the draft decisions
were forwarded to the COP with brackets. Outstanding issues were then discussed behind
closed doors in high-level consultations and the decisions were presented in final
IMPLEMENTATION OF FCCC ARTICLES 4.8 AND 4.9: On Tuesday, 3 November, Chair Kante
convened a contact group, co-chaired by Bo Kjellén (Sweden) and Mohammad Salamat (Iran),
on Articles 4.8 and 4.9 (adverse effects) and the related articles of the Kyoto Protocol
(2.3 and 3.14). SAUDI ARABIA stressed the need for the contact group to produce an
unambiguous text that could be adopted by the COP. The US and CANADA indicated that the
issues raised by Articles 4.8 and 4.9 and the subsequent decisions should be separate.
With AUSTRALIA, they said the issue should be considered in a non-political manner.
The contact group met three times. In the first session, delegates discussed how to
proceed. In the second and third sessions, they discussed a Co-Chairs draft
decision, which stated that the basic elements for further analysis should include: the
identification of adverse effects; determination of the impacts of implementation measures
in developing countries; the identification of the specific needs and concerns of
developing country Parties arising from such adverse effects and impacts; and determining
further necessary actions related to funding, insurance and technology transfer to meet
the needs of developing countries. A programme of work was proposed that included: an
expert workshop (April 1999); further discussion in subsidiary bodies (SBSTA-10 and
SBI-10, June 1999); identification of needs for further information needed (COP-5, October
1999); and decisions made (COP-6, October 2000).
On Tuesday, 10 November, in describing the results of the contact group, Co-Chair
Kjellén said the text reflected the objectives and there was general agreement on
outstanding issues. The two bracketed paragraphs in the preamble reflected the lack of
time for full negotiation. The G-77/CHINA said there were compromises even in the
unbracketed text. He said the group would accept the document, including the brackets, to
preserve momentum. The US, with the EU, said the impression of general agreement was
misleading. He said the contact group did not discuss this text and there was no agreement
on the work plan. SAUDI ARABIA stated there was no consensus and suggested that if the
whole text were bracketed, then all texts should be bracketed.
The draft decision on FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 was adopted with two amendments and the
removal of brackets from around the entire text (FCCC/CP/1998/L.9). Paragraph 4 in the
preamble was expanded to read, Recognizing that in the implementation of the
commitments in Article 4 of the Convention, the Parties shall give full consideration to
what actions are necessary under the Convention, including actions related to funding,
insurance and the transfer of technology, to meet the specific needs and concerns of
developing country Parties arising from the adverse effects of climate change and/or the
impact of the implementation of response measures. The following paragraph was
shortened and reads, Noting the provision under Article 12.8 of the Protocol.
Compared to the draft decision, the adopted text includes an expanded comment on the
responsibilities of Annex I Parties under Articles 4.8 and 4.9, but limits discussion of
specific commitments under Article 12 of the Protocol. The decision focuses on obtaining
and compiling further information, continuing the analysis on adverse effects and includes
a work plan for future action.
Review of information/possible decisions under decision 9/CP.1: On Wednesday, 4
November, delegates considered the review of information and possible decisions under
Article 4.2(f), which addresses amendments to FCCC Annexes (FCCC/CP/1998/13;
FCCC/CP/1997/MISC.3). The Chair recalled that informal consultations were held during the
last two sessions, but no consensus emerged. PAKISTAN requested Parties to delete Turkey
from Annexes I and II. The EU said all OECD countries should have legally binding targets.
Informal consultations were held on this issue.
On Friday, 6 November in plenary, the President of the COP invited comments on the
draft decision on the review of implementation of commitments and of other provisions of
the Convention (FCCC/CP/1998/L.2). Under the draft decision, the COP would continue to the
review this matter at COP-5. TURKEY reiterated that its current status as was an anomaly
that delays its ratification of the Convention. PAKISTAN called for the resolution of the
issue to allow Turkey to participate in the process.
Second national communications from Annex I Parties: On Wednesday, 4 November,
delegates discussed the full compilation and synthesis of second national communications
from Annex I Parties. The Secretariat provided a review of documentation and discussed
gaps in data and reporting (FCCC/CP/1998/11; FCCC/CP/1998/11/Add.1;
FCCC/CP/1998/11/Add.2). The debate included reference to the in-depth review process and
the proposal for an exercise of data comparison (FCCC/CP/1998/4; FCCC/CP/1998/5;
FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.8; FCCC/CP/1998/INF.9). The G- 77/CHINA, with the PHILIPPINES and CHINA,
expressed concern about: increasing emission trends among Annex II Parties; activities
relating to financial resources and technology transfer; the lack of progress in the
development of policies and measures; and gaps in reporting by Annex I Parties.
NORWAY, with the EU, AUSTRALIA, the US and CANADA, stated that: the national
communications and their reviews were important to the Convention process; reporting
issues and guidelines required increased attention; and the Secretariat should conduct
more analytical work. The EU, NEW ZEALAND, the US, SWITZERLAND, CANADA and NORWAY said the
third national communication should be due in 2001. The EU, NORWAY and the US supported
the Secretariat's proposed paper on comparison of activity data, but sought clarification
on several technical and procedural issues.
A contact group on national communications from Annex I Parties, chaired by Mohamed
Ould El Ghaouth (Mauritania) and Alexander Metalnikov (Russian Federation), met over the
weekend and formulated a draft decision. It proposed that the third national
communications from Annex I Parties be due in 2001 and that subsequent national
communications be due every three to five years. The decision included a statement on the
need for further efforts by Parties to improve completeness, consistency and comparability
of data and information, as well as participating, through the SBI, in evaluating and
refining the review process. It proposed that the Secretariat complete a feasibility study
on the potential usefulness of data comparison and report on information contained in
annual national inventory submissions.
On Tuesday, 10 November, in SBI plenary, the Co-Chairs of the contact group indicated
that consensus was reached. The G- 77/CHINA proposed bracketing a paragraph in the annex
that noted that many Annex I Parties would not reduce GHGs to 1990 levels. They said this
issue became linked to discussion on FCCC Article 4.2 (a) and (b) (adequacy of
commitments). Contact group Co- Chair El Ghaouth asked the Chair not to reopen debate on
an agreed decision. The text was accepted with brackets.
The final plenary adopted the decision on national communications from Annex I Parties
with the removal of the brackets from paragraph 10(c) (FCCC/CP/1998/L.10). The decision
requests Annex I Parties to submit their third national communication by 30 November 2001
and subsequent communications will be due at three- to five-year intervals.
National communications from non-Annex I countries: On Thursday, 5 November, delegates
discussed national communications from non-Annex I countries (FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.4;
FCCC/CP/1998/INF.2; FCCC/CP/1998/CRP.1). The PHILIPPINES highlighted the need for capacity
building and financing, which should follow the guidelines for initial communications in
Decision 10/CP.2. CHINA, supported by TOGO and the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, said the
decision recognized the need for adequate and additional financial resources for
inventories, an enormous task for some developing countries. CHILE and COLOMBIA described
ongoing efforts toward their initial national communications. URUGUAY and the REPUBLIC OF
KOREA described their initial communications and national efforts underway to limit GHGs.
The EU said communications should be considered on a country-level basis and more frequent
workshops would be beneficial.
On Monday, 9 November, the contact group on non-Annex I national communications,
chaired by Paul Malcons (South Africa) and Dan Reifsnyder (US), considered a draft
Co-Chairs' text. Discussion centered on a number of issues including: whether national
communications would be evaluated and whether there would be a process of ongoing
evaluation; whether a compilation and synthesis of non-Annex I national communications
would be completed, and if so when; whether there would be in-country reviews; and whether
workshops would help the consideration and/or preparation of national communications.
On Tuesday, 10 November, in SBI plenary, Co-Chair Malcons presented the draft decision.
The EU bracketed a paragraph regarding requests to the Secretariat. The G-77/CHINA
bracketed the entire text. CHINA and SAUDI ARABIA said the Chair should not allow further
negotiation on the text. After lengthy debate, the Chair called on delegates to respect
the rules and said the entire text would be bracketed for consideration by the COP
The final COP plenary adopted the decision on initial national communications from
non-Annex I Parties with minor changes (FCCC/CP/1998/L.11). Paragraph 5 was amended to
read: decides to continue to address the consideration of communications from
non-Annex I Parties, at its fifth session, with a view to taking a further decision on
this matter. This change highlighted the ongoing nature of the consideration of
non-Annex I communications. All of the brackets were removed and the decision was adopted.
Financial Mechanism: On Wednesday, 4 November, delegates debated the report of the
Global Environment Facility (GEF) (FCCC/CP/1998/12; FCCC/CP/1998/12/Add.1;
FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.3) and the financial mechanism and the review process
(FCCC/SBI/1998/MISC.4, FCCC/SBI/1998/MISC.4/Add.1 and FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.3). Several
developing country Parties suggested a political reorientation of the GEF to meet their
needs, such as the preparation of non-Annex I communications. Several developed country
Parties suggested that the GEF should operate as the Convention's financial entity,
although improvements were needed. Chair Kante called for unity among the delegates to
resolve the status of the GEF and appealed for a solution.
On Thursday, 5 November, the contact group on the financial mechanism, chaired by John
Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and Dan Reifsnyder (US), met briefly and focused on procedural
matters that would enable a decision to be reached. The G-77/CHINA, after considering
comments to their initial proposal presented in the previous meeting, outlined two new
proposals on the substantive issues, namely, the status of and guidance to the GEF. These
documents were considered in a series of contact group meetings over the next few days.
On Friday, 6 November, the contact group discussed a draft decision presented by the
G-77/China (FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.3/Add.1). The US tabled a draft decision that focused on:
improvements at the operational level of the GEF; resolving the status of and guidance to
the GEF in one draft decision; and GEF support programmes to assist developing countries
in altering their policy and legal frameworks in support of technology transfer. The
G-77/CHINA said this proposal did not adequately meet the needs of developing country
On Monday, 9 November, the contact group met in a closed session and discussed a text
proposed by the Co-Chairs. No decisions were taken. Delegates indicated that they wanted
feedback from other contact groups, such as those on technology transfer and FCCC Articles
4.8 and 4.9. Delegates linked the decision on the status of the GEF with the discussion on
guidance to the GEF.
Co-Chair Ashe presented the draft decision on the financial mechanism to the SBI
plenary later that day. The EU bracketed paragraphs on GEF funding for implementing
adaptation responses and meeting full agreed costs. The US bracketed language on
international centers. The G-77/CHINA bracketed the entire text. The text was forwarded to
the COP with brackets.
After extensive consultations behind closed doors, the COP plenary was presented with a
draft decision (FCCC/CP/1998/L.22) without brackets, which it adopted. It was agreed that
the restructured GEF shall serve as the financial mechanism. On guidance to the GEF, the
changes included: deletion of bracketed text on the provision of new and additional funds
for addressing climate change; removal of brackets from paragraphs on funding for
adaptation measures and facilitation of access to information; and removal of brackets and
strengthening of text on meeting agreed full costs for initial and subsequent national
Second review of the adequacy of FCCC Article 4.2 (a) and (b): On Wednesday, 4
November, delegates considered the second review of the adequacy of FCCC Article 4.2 (a)
and (b) (FCCC/CP/1997/7; FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.6; FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.6/Add.1). There was
consensus among Parties that the current commitments were inadequate and a decision should
be reached at COP-4. The G-77/CHINA said: the issue is important to the Convention; a
clear decision defining new commitments should be reached; and developed countries were
shirking their responsibilities in this matter. Several developed countries indicated that
resolution of this issue was possible at COP-4, but a decision should be forward-looking
and create an enabling framework that could include a broader range of commitments. A
contact group was established to consider the issue.
On 5 November, the contact group considering the review of Article 4.2 (a) and (b),
chaired by Jennifer Irish (Canada) and Margaret Mukahanana (Zimbabwe) remained focused on
establishing the approach to preparing a draft statement which, according to FCCC Article
4.2 (d), must be completed by 31 December 1998. Developing country Parties insisted that a
G-77/CHINA draft decision provide the basis for the deliberations. Other countries stated
that a document, which compiled a range of submissions to the Secretariat following the
June subsidiary body meetings, should serve as the core text for discussions.
The group met over the weekend. A discussion of four draft proposals, presented by
AUSTRALIA, the EU, the G-77/CHINA and the US, dominated the deliberations. Debate
concerned procedural issues on how to address the texts, with the G-77/CHINA indicating
reluctance to consider a compilation text prepared by the Co-Chairs. After extensive
debate, the G-77/CHINA proposed, with the EU and NEW ZEALAND, a reworked text as a
negotiating document. The US, with the eventual support of G-77/CHINA, rejected the
compilation document and called on the four draft decisions to be presented in their
entirety to the SBI. The Parties justified the cautious approach, citing this issue's
crucial importance to national positions. CHINA said he interpreted the US and AUSTRALIA
proposals as an attempt to exact commitments from developing countries. The US and
AUSTRALIA noted that the scientific and technical evaluation from the IPCC indicated that
developed country actions would be insufficient to meet the aims of the Convention, and
the US incorporated this into its submission. The meeting ended without clear resolution.
On Tuesday, 10 November, Co-Chair Jennifer Irish reported to the SBI plenary that the
group agreed that commitments were inadequate, but did not agree on reasons nor on actions
required. She presented a recommendation that the Chair conduct further consultations.
Co-Chair Margaret Mukahanana said the difficulty on reaching a consensus was based on
different interpretations of adequacy of commitments. The Chair asked delegates to forward
the five draft decisions to the COP plenary.
During the final plenary, the President reported that no conclusion was possible on the
second review of adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b). There was no discussion or decision
on this issue by the COP and the nature of future discussions on this issue were not
Administrative and Financial Matters: On Tuesday, 3 November, the Secretariat outlined
a number of administrative and financial matters (FCCC/CP/1998/8/Add.1; FCCC/CP/1998/9;
FCCC/CP/1998/10 and FCCC/CP/1998/INF.1). A brief discussion ensued and the Chair decided
to hold consultations on the issues raised.
On Tuesday, 10 November, the budget group Chair Harald Dovland (Norway) reported that
no agreement had been reached on the calendar of meetings. The US highlighted concerns
regarding dates in the draft decision. The text was adopted with the exclusion of the
calendar of meetings. The Executive Secretary reported that since document
FCCC/SBI/1998/INF.6 was distributed, financial contributions had been received from
several Parties. Delegates adopted a decision on this issue in final plenary
Schedule of meetings for 2000-2001: On Tuesday, 3 November, in the SBI plenary, the EU,
supported by CANADA and AUSTRALIA, proposed that COP-5 be held in 2000 rather than 1999.
With SAUDI ARABIA, CHINA, VENEZUELA and NIGERIA, MAURITANIA objected to this proposal. If
the COP is postponed, he said governments might not feel the pressure to ratify the
Protocol. CHINA noted that several issues under the Convention remained unresolved and
time was needed to prepare for the Protocol's entry into force. NIGERIA objected to the US
proposal for alternating ministerial and non-ministerial COPs. CANADA called for
consultations on this issue under the guidance of the Chair. Informal consultations were
On Monday, 9 November, SBI adopted the draft report of its ninth session
SBI/SBSTA JOINT SESSIONS
Flexibility Mechanisms: In a joint SBI/SBSTA plenary on Wednesday, 4 November,
delegates discussed the Protocol's flexibility mechanisms contained in Article 6 (emission
reduction units), Article 12 (clean development mechanism) and Article 17 (emissions
trading)(FCCC/1998/CP/MISC.7 and Add.1; FCCC/SBSTA/1998/6; FCCC/CP/1998/INF.3). The
G-77/CHINA reiterated the need for the flexibility mechanisms to proceed step-by-step.
BRAZIL said the CDM should not be operational before ratification of the Protocol and
implementation of domestic measures. AOSIS stated, inter alia, that the concept of
supplementarity should guide the mechanisms.
The AFRICAN GROUP stressed that the use of flexible mechanisms be limited to an agreed
amount since the primary objective of the FCCC was to encourage domestic action.
Appropriate work with debt relief in Africa would create an enabling environment for a
wide range of CDM projects. He called for a preparatory process to enable African
countries to undertake CDM projects. He stressed the importance of equity in the CDM and
suggested focusing on infrastructure development in the continent.
The EU stated that the mechanisms should be developed parallel to and consistent with
each other. He said domestic actions should be the primary means of emissions reductions
and the mechanisms should be supplemental. He called for the definition of a quantitative
and qualitative ceiling based on equitable terms. SWITZERLAND suggested the creation of a
compliance mechanism. The EU, SWITZERLAND and SLOVENIA said COP- 4 should agree on as many
principles as possible and adopt detailed schedules to implement the Kyoto Protocol.
AUSTRALIA said the flexibility mechanisms were to be open, market-based, transparent,
cost effective and equitable; provide comprehensive coverage, including sinks; and be
fungible. With NEW ZEALAND, she opposed restrictions on trade in assigned amounts,
characterizing them as inequitable, costly, arbitrary and difficult to implement.
With CANADA, the US and NORWAY, JAPAN underscored the importance of addressing the
flexibility mechanisms in parallel, reaching early agreement and developing a work plan
for unresolved issues. He favored giving priority to technical issues. Supported by CANADA
and the US, he opposed quantitative ceilings for reductions achieved through the
flexibility mechanisms, noting that there was no ceiling on transfers of assigned amounts
under Protocol Article 4 ("bubble"). On the CDM, he favored: transparency;
inclusion of sink projects; private sector involvement; use of public funds to ensure
equitable geographical distribution of projects; and a standardized and/or
project-by-project approach for baselines. With CANADA, he said host countries should
determine sustainable development criteria.
A joint SBI/SBSTA contact group, chaired by Luiz Gylvan Meira Filho (Brazil) and Yvo de
Boer (Netherlands), met several times. On Wednesday, 4 November, the group discussed the
preparation of a comprehensive work programme on flexibility mechanisms. The EU and a
group of Annex I Parties, including Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, the
Russian Federation and the US ("Umbrella Group") distributed draft decisions and
discussion documents. Other Parties, including the G-77/CHINA, called for more time to
consider the volume of documentation. Several developing country Parties supported
addressing a wider range of issues related to the flexibility mechanisms, including
technology transfer, adverse impacts, methodologies, reporting and compliance. Two small
island States supported a package of 11 themes for the work programme. The Co-Chairs
distributed a "dummy" Draft Work Programme on Mechanisms and conducted informal
On Friday, 6 November, the G-77/CHINA stressed the need for a clear section in the work
programme devoted to the nature and scope of the mechanisms to facilitate comparison. He
added that the mechanisms should not exacerbate the economic disadvantage of countries and
called for the CDM to be discussed on a priority basis. HONDURAS, supported by several
Latin American countries, called for expeditious creation of the CDM, and proposed an
"interim phase approach" to develop guidelines and rules. The US stressed
parallel progress on all mechanisms. The EU preferred a general, rather than a detailed,
debate. NEW ZEALAND stressed the importance of developing a timeline for discussion.
Several Parties expressed concern about the length of the draft work programme.
SWITZERLAND provided the Co-Chairs with a two-page work programme. The contact group met
on Saturday to continue discussion on the work programme, with a much-shortened version
prepared by the Co-Chairs that included the Honduran "interim phase" proposal.
After some discussion, the Chairs acknowledged differences in views among the Parties, but
said the views were not incompatible.
On Monday, 9 November, the G-77/CHINA submitted a proposed work programme containing an
extensive list of issues, embodying a "step-by-step" approach and prioritizing
the CDM. In response, the US, supported by CANADA and AUSTRALIA, suggested the contact
group address four questions: what type of decision should be made, when, by whom, and how
it should move forward. He added that there were two options: negotiate the items in the
text or keep the list of items open. The EU said the G-77/China draft programme lacked,
inter alia, a clear timeline, deadlines and allocation of work to different bodies. They
rejected the prioritization of work, calling for parallel development of all three
mechanisms. The Co-Chairs introduced a draft decision on mechanisms, taking into
consideration the views expressed in the group, admitting that it was outside their
mandate. AUSTRALIA said the issues settled at Kyoto should not be re-opened.
On Tuesday, 10 November, draft work programmes were submitted by AUSTRALIA (on behalf
of CANADA, ICELAND, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the US), JAPAN,
SWITZERLAND and the Co-Chairs. After extensive deliberations, Co-Chair de Boer suggested
that the title of the work programme include a footnote stating "the existence of
elements in this list is without prejudice to inclusion of these items in the rules,
modalities and guidelines developed for these mechanisms." The discussion on
principles would be limited to the "application of existing principles" and the
references to FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 (adverse effects) would be deleted. At the request
of G- 77/CHINA, the Parties reconvened later to discuss the draft as amended by the
Co-Chairs. SAUDI ARABIA, with QATAR, said it would support the Co-Chairs' amended text, if
FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 (adverse impacts) were included. UGANDA said all the references
to FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 should be deleted, since they were under deliberation
Delegates convened a joint SBI/SBSTA plenary in the early morning hours of Wednesday,
11 November. The contact group Co- Chairs reported that there was no agreement on a draft
work programme. AUSTRALIA and other Annex I Parties, as well as the EU, put forward the
documents they had produced for the contact group. The SBI/SBSTA Co-Chairs distributed
their own draft decision on the work programme on mechanisms. The G-77/CHINA urged
discussion of the contact group Co-Chairs' draft, with CHINA opposing the use of other
documents. SOUTH AFRICA and UGANDA rejected the G-77/CHINA position, saying they were
unaware the group had discussed the new proposal. With the US, EU, CANADA, JAPAN, KUWAIT
and AUSTRALIA, the AFRICAN GROUP favored bracketing the new Co-Chairs' draft entirely.
VENEZUELA said forwarding the Co-Chairs' text would require formulation of a joint
subsidiary bodies' position. KUWAIT suggested the draft decision of the SBSTA/SBI
Co-Chairs be forwarded to the COP as a Chair's text. Co-Chair Kante suggested forwarding
both texts to the plenary: the draft work plan proposed by the contact group Co-Chairs and
the draft decision proposed by the SBSTA/SBI Co- Chairs. Delegates agreed, but it remained
uncertain which of the texts would be bracketed. The session concluded at 4:10 am.
Later that day, SBI/SBSTA Co-Chair Chow informed the COP plenary that a decision had
been reached on the flexibility mechanisms and two draft texts would be forwarded to the
COP (FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.7 and Add.1).
During the final plenary on Saturday, 14 November, the COP adopted a decision that
included a work programme on mechanisms (FCCC/CP/1998/L.21). The decision contained
several elements, inter alia: prioritization of the CDM; a final decision on Protocol
Articles 6 (emission reduction units), 12 (clean development mechanism) and 17 (emissions
trading) at COP-6; and a request to the Secretariat to prepare a plan for facilitating
capacity building for developing country Parties, especially for the small island States
and the least developed countries, to participate in the CDM.
The work programme contained a list of issues to be discussed under four categories:
General; CDM; Article 6 projects; and Article 17 emissions trading between Parties
included in Annex B. In the general section, elements included: application of relevant
principles; capacity building; adaptation; compliance; inapplicability of Article 4.8 and
4.9 of the Convention and/or Article 2.3 and 3.14 of the Kyoto Protocol to the mechanisms;
application of any quantification of supplemental to domestic actions to each
State within a regional economic integration organization; and linkages, inter alia,
interchangeability. In the section on the CDM, reference was made to transparency, non-
discrimination and prevention of distortion of competition; supplementarity to domestic
actions for achieving compliance with reduction commitments under Protocol Article 3
(concrete ceiling defined in quantitative and qualitative terms based on equitable
criteria; fungibility among mechanisms; inclusion of sink projects; and credit (starting
from 2000) for qualifying projects begun before CDM rules become effective. Under Article
6 and Article 17, the elements to be discussed include: lack of authority to elaborate
supplemental to domestic actions and the inadvisability of doing so; and lack
of authority to establish a charge for adaptation. On Article 17 references were made to
the basis for and determination of rights and entitlements for emissions trading of
Parties included in Annex B; hot air; interchangeability and assigned amounts as a basis
for emissions trading.
Activities Implemented Jointly: On Tuesday, 3 November, a joint SBI/SBSTA plenary
session considered the status of the AIJ pilot phase. The Secretariat provided a report on
the 95 projects, the main methodological issues, and subjects that arose in workshops on
this topic (FCCC/CP/1998/2, FCCC/CP/1998/INF.3, FCCC/CP/1998/MISC.7 and
The G-77/CHINA, supported by several developing countries, observed that AIJ is
separate from the mechanisms arising from the Protocol. He said while the number of
projects had increased, representation was poor. He stated that there were insufficient
details to draw conclusions and the pilot phase should be extended. Most non-Annex I
Parties have not experienced and evaluated an AIJ project within their own country.
Several Parties observed that further experience and capacity building would lay the
groundwork for Protocol mechanisms.
SWITZERLAND, with NORWAY, JAPAN, SLOVENIA, the EU, the US, AUSTRALIA and COLOMBIA,
contended that the AIJ pilot phase provides lessons for the flexibility mechanisms. A
review of the AIJ pilot phase for COP-5 would support the development of this work. POLAND
observed that a review of the process could explain why some countries were excluded and
resolve some of the concerns of the G-77/CHINA.
Cornelia Quennet-Thielen (Germany) chaired informal consultations on the issue and
presented a draft decision (FCCC/SB/1998/CRP.3) in a joint SBI/SBSTA plenary on Tuesday,
10 November. The G-77/CHINA opposed text on crediting for AIJ pilot phase projects and
proposed an amendment on continuing the AIJ pilot phase, focusing on developing countries.
The US and SLOVENIA opposed the change, noting it excluded certain groups of Parties.
AUSTRALIA said incentives were needed for the private sector. The draft decision was
forwarded to the COP plenary.
During the final plenary, the draft decision on AIJ was adopted without discussion
(FCCC/CP/1998/L.20). The decision continues the AIJ pilot phase, invites Parties to make
submissions on projects and begins a process of review to enable a decision to be made by
the end of the present decade.
Preparations for COP/MOP-1: On Thursday, 5 November, the SBI and SBSTA discussed
preparations for the first session of the Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of
the Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP-1). The Chairs introduced their draft decision
(FCCC/CP/1998/3) and invited comment. SAUDI ARABIA said preparations were needed for all
Protocol articles, not just the flexibility mechanisms. He stressed that Protocol Articles
3.14 and 2.3 (adverse effects) had not been adequately addressed. He suggested convening a
separate contact group, discussing the issues in the contact group on FCCC Articles 4.8
and 4.9 or in the one on flexibility mechanisms. VENEZUELA, BANGLADESH, the UNITED ARAB
EMIRATES, IRAN, SYRIA, KUWAIT, LEBANON, NIGERIA, THE GAMBIA, ECUADOR, ALGERIA, MOROCCO and
INDONESIA supported SAUDI ARABIA.
SWITZERLAND supported the draft decision, but suggested amendments to the timeframe and
scope of work. The US proposed amending the decision to reflect the differing legal status
of the Convention and the Protocol. The EU, supported by MONACO, noted the need to specify
ways to facilitate cooperation and stressed coordination of IPCC and FCCC activities
through a joint working group. He proposed establishing a compliance mechanism and
scheduling a meeting for early 1999. JAPAN noted the need for time for consultation and
difficulties in combining ongoing work under the FCCC and the Protocol. He opposed
deadlines for setting compliance procedures until the mechanisms were elaborated. CANADA
called for a balance between the Convention and the Protocol and said Protocol issues
needed attention to expedite ratification.
The Chair said Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14 were within the scope of work of the
contact group on FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9 (adverse impacts). The contact group would
determine its own agenda. KUWAIT, NIGERIA and SAUDI ARABIA sought a clear mandate for the
contact group to consider Articles 2.3 and 3.14. The US, JAPAN and AUSTRALIA said Decision
3/CP.3, which specified the mandate of the contact group, did not require specific
consideration of Articles 2.3 and 3.14. The EU said the issue merited discussion, but it
was unnecessary to highlight specific articles.
The Chair said no separate contact groups would be established. SAUDI ARABIA called for
a work plan and timeline on Article 3.14 for COP/MOP 1, and said progress on Article 3.14
should follow an approach similar to Protocol Articles 6, 12 and 17 (flexibility
mechanisms). The Chair indicated that no work plan or timetable for any of the articles in
question would be developed, but these items would be explored because they are linked.
Espen Rřnneberg (Marshall Islands) chaired informal consultations and reported on
Tuesday, 10 November, that no progress was made due to time constraints. He offered an
informal paper with an annex containing an initial list of work. Co-Chair Chow suggested
further deliberations. SAUDI ARABIA said he would accept this on the condition that the
issue of Protocol Articles 4.8 and 4.9 (adverse effects) be resolved at COP-4. The
Co-Chairs forwarded the paper to the COP.
MAURITANIA and the Co-Chairs proposed a draft decision urging Parties to sign and
ratify the Kyoto Protocol. JAPAN recalled that the draft decision on Article 4.2(a) and
(b) contained a bracketed sentence urging Parties to ratify. The US said it was not in a
position to urge ratification and suggested postponing the decision. The draft decision
was forwarded to the COP.
The draft decision on the preparations for COP/MOP-1 was accepted with two minor
changes to the annexes (FCCC/CP/1998/L.19). The decision focuses on a work plan that
includes allocation of preparatory work between the subsidiary bodies and a list of tasks
assigned to Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties.
The Presidential Ceremony was held on Wednesday, 11 November. On behalf of UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social
Affairs, said the Kyoto Protocol offered a sustainable path for industrialized countries
and demonstrated shared stewardship for the planet. He underscored the need for early
ratification of the Protocol and action on issues including technology transfer, domestic
measures and scientific research. He called for a new deadline to maintain momentum and
pledged UN support.
Carlos Menem, President of Argentina, said the Protocol had been approved by the Senate
of Argentina and was under consideration in the lower house. He emphasized a clean growth
strategy. At COP-5, Argentina will make a commitment to lower emissions for the period
2008 to 2012. Countries were to be permitted, he said, "to find a new way under the
Delegates heard reports from the Chairs of SBI and SBSTA on decisions adopted and
outstanding issues. The COP-4 President proposed to convene a group of friends of
the president at the ministerial level to address the outstanding issues from the
SBI and SBSTA. Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar informed delegates that Jordan
had offered to host COP-5. He said a final decision had not been reached because financial
matters were under discussion.
TURKEY said it had presented the FCCC to Parliament for ratification. However, its
Annex I and II status did not conform to the country's economic circumstances. She
requested resolution of this issue at COP-5. LIBYA expressed hope that the international
community would prevent adverse economic impacts from response measures. Sanctions that
violate international agreements have impeded environmental improvements to oil production
Delegates heard statements from the following intergovernmental organizations: the
World Meteorological Organization; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization;
the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Environment Programme;
Parlamento Latinoamericano; the World Bank; UNESCO; IPCC; the Latin American Energy
Organization; OECD; and the International Energy Agency.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) addressing the COP were: Foro del Buen Ayre;
Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment; the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions; the International Chamber of Commerce; the World
Business Council for Sustainable Development; the International Council for Local
Environmental Initiatives; the Argentine Mayors' Environmental Forum; Klima-Bündnis
(Climate Alliance); Climate Action Network Latin America; IUCN; the Business
Council for Sustainable Energy; the European Business Council for a Sustainable Energy
Future; Climate Network Europe; and Franciscans International.
The High-Level Segment was held on Thursday, 12 November. The ministers presented
overviews of domestic actions on climate change and called for enhanced progress at the
COP to ensure ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. They expressed their sympathy for the
victims of Hurricane Mitch. FRANCE announced the cancellation of Honduras and
Argentine President Carlos Menem said that at COP-5 Argentina will make a commitment to
lower emissions for the period 2008 to 2012. Countries were to be permitted, he said,
to find a new way under the Convention. KAZAKSTAN expressed willingness to
undertake obligations and enter into Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol through Annex I of the
FCCC. NEW ZEALAND, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the US supported the Argentine voluntary
commitment. With the US and HUNGARY, AUSTRALIA called for meaningful participation and
future voluntary commitments appropriate to individual circumstances and with QATAR,
NORWAY, PERU and SENEGAL stressed the principle of common but differentiated
AOSIS noted the inadequacy of the commitments and efforts to implement them under the
Protocol and the FCCC. He said the Argentine voluntary commitment must not be allowed to
detract from the commitments of Parties in the Protocol. CUBA, QATAR and SAUDI ARABIA
opposed any attempt to compel developing countries to take on voluntary
commitments. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA recognized that voluntary commitments was a
sensitive issue, but there would be a need for global participation over time. BOLIVIA
stressed that substantive participation of non-Annex I Parties should be based on the
principle of sovereignty and right to self-determination and that their emissions limits
cannot constitute a precedent nor commit others to emissions limitation targets. MALAYSIA
expressed regret over the continued discussion on voluntary commitments. ETHIOPIA said
pressure for voluntary commitments would undermine the FCCC process.
The US, THAILAND, PERU and TUVALU announced their signature to the Kyoto Protocol.
TRINIDAD and TOBAGO, on behalf of CARICOM and HAITI, said BAHAMAS will sign the Protocol
this week. MICRONESIA, ITALY, CHILE, LITHUANIA, CYPRUS and the SOLOMON ISLANDS stated that
they were in the process of ratifying the Protocol. JAPAN and SLOVENIA called for the
early signing and ratification of the Protocol. KAZAKSTAN expressed willingness to
undertake obligations and enter into Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol through Annex I of the
A number of speakers, including the EU, THE GAMBIA, JAPAN, SWEDEN, SYRIA, CROATIA, NEW
ZEALAND, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, EGYPT, NEPAL, SPAIN, GHANA and the G-77/CHINA, stressed that:
active leadership to prevent global warming must come from developed country Parties;
domestic action must provide the main means for meeting commitments to combat climate
change; and flexibility mechanisms were supplemental and their use must be subject to
strict rules of accountability and compliance. PERU said the inaction of developed
countries sends dangerous signals to non- Annex I countries. NORWAY said developed
countries must accept even more ambitious targets in the future. Recognizing the
vulnerability of small island States, NEW ZEALAND called for support to AOSIS.
FRANCE noted that developing country emissions are increasing and called for timely
provision of financial support and technology transfer. With ECUADOR, FINLAND, the CARICOM
States, THE GAMBIA, VENEZUELA, CHINA, ECUADOR, BENIN, TANZANIA and UGANDA, he highlighted
the need for additional financial support, sustained transfer of information and
technology, capacity building and institutional strengthening. SUDAN stressed technology
transfer irrespective of political relations or racial considerations. NORWAY recognized
the role of industry in technology transfer. The NETHERLANDS highlighted the need for
increased financial flows to the most vulnerable countries.
The UK and GHANA said scientific uncertainty should not be used as an excuse for
inaction. DENMARK called for a Buenos Aires deal that calls upon developed countries to
commit themselves to provide additional funds to developing countries and address their
obligations under the FCCC and the Protocol. In return, developing countries must agree to
work out the necessary national strategies to allow for a constructive review process.
AOSIS called for a clear and ambitious timetable to elaborate the Protocol. The G-77/CHINA
said their participation in mitigating climate change depends on the effective
implementation of developed country Party commitments in the field of technology transfer
and financial resources. JAPAN and the EU stressed the need to maintain the momentum of
Kyoto, and with FINLAND, called for the creation of a clear and efficient work plan giving
priority to developing country concerns. LATVIA supported the EU proposal for a Buenos
Aires work plan.
GHANA said the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation present an
additional burden to developing countries and with the CARICOM States, ICELAND, AUSTRALIA,
the US, SAUDI ARABIA, NEW ZEALAND and the G-77/CHINA, called for elaboration of mechanisms
under the Kyoto Protocol. The CENTRAL AMERICAN STATES stressed the importance of sinks and
supported the G- 77/China proposal to prioritize the CDM and operationalize it by 1
January 2000. With CHILE, he proposed an interim phase of the CDM. IRELAND supported the
EU call for clear qualitative and quantitative ceilings on the use of the flexibility
mechanisms. The COOK ISLANDS, MARSHALL ISLANDS, NAURU, NIUE, TUVALU, ALGERIA and the
CARICOM States expressed concern that the flexibility mechanisms are a way of avoiding
domestic responsibility. THAILAND said the CDM should not be the sole means of technology
The SEYCHELLES expressed concern that vulnerable nations that are insignificant on the
global stage may be excluded from programmes such as those under the flexibility
mechanisms. THAILAND supported North-South and South-South partnerships based on equity
and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. SPAIN called for progress
on developing a process of technology transfer and efforts to address the issue of public
awareness and education. FRANCE called for a common approach to collective measures and
said mechanisms should be based on a reliable system of compliance that includes
sanctions. CROATIA said the flexibility mechanisms must be equitable, i.e., open,
transparent, verifiable and non- discriminatory. EGYPT emphasized the equal treatment of
the three flexibility mechanisms and suggested that part of the proceeds from these
mechanisms be mobilized to finance the transfer of adaptation technology for developing
countries. BRAZIL underscored the CDM as a means of inducing new and mostly private
investment, and suggested that it be project-based and include all countries. CANADA
described the CDM as a win-win- win mechanism, i.e., win for the environment,
win for sustainable development and win for the developed countries, as they would be able
to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets. VENEZUELA said CDM projects must ensure net
contribution to sustainable development in the host country, avoid hidden costs, and use
project-based rather than sectoral or national baselines to avoid future imposition of
ARGENTINA said emissions trading was an innovative solution to market failure. POLAND
called for final decisions on the mechanisms at COP-5 and proposed a pilot phase for
emissions trading. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA opposed any limits on the CDM. MEXICO stressed
open criteria and a progressive approach to the CDM that could foster immediate and simple
actions without artificial limits, not contained in the Protocol. BOTSWANA emphasized the
role of the CDM in assisting developing countries and urged progress on elaborating this
mechanism. MOROCCO said the imbalance of projects under the AIJ pilot phase was
inequitable and ZIMBABWE recommended its extension. MALAYSIA called for the incorporation
of technology transfer and the financial mechanism into the Protocol mechanisms.
GREECE supported agreement on clear principles, modalities, rules and guidelines for
the flexibility mechanisms, including ceilings on their use. SOUTH AFRICA supported
development of a clear programme of work, establishment of an intersessional working group
and a timeframe to ensure the Kyoto targets are met. UKRAINE stressed establishment of a
work programme for implementation of Kyoto obligations by Annex I Parties. He said revival
in transition economies will lead to inevitable increases in GHG emissions, but these
countries will achieve internal reductions. He opposed the revision of
decisions taken at Kyoto.
Several Parties, including DENMARK, VENEZUELA, POLAND, AUSTRALIA, FRANCE, the EU and
the US, called for the establishment of a coherent, effective and strong compliance
system. The G-77/CHINA called for a decision on compliance at COP-4. GERMANY suggested a
ceiling for mechanisms and, with FRANCE, supported the inclusion of sanctions in the
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed attempts to qualify its emissions reductions as
hot air, since they compensate for emissions increases of other countries, and
have been paid for by a decline in living standards. BRAZIL and KENYA called for further
discussions on the adverse impacts of climate change. Supported by MEXICO, BHUTAN and
ICELAND, COLOMBIA called attention to sinks under the Protocol and underscored the
elaboration of methodologies. ICELAND underscored the proportional impact of single
projects on small economies.
With BENIN and ZIMBABWE, CHINA cautioned against the COP losing focus on the
Convention. He opposed the argument that a global problem demands a global response and
rejected emissions reduction or limitation conditions. SWEDEN urged delegates to work to
increase awareness, understanding and support for change and, with FINLAND, applauded the
role of NGOs in the environmental agenda. VENEZUELA cautioned against allowing
distractions from the main issues by discussing items not on the COP-4 agenda. ECUADOR
supported closer coordination with other UN Conventions, particularly the Convention on
Biological Diversity. NEPAL stressed regional environmental cooperation and opposed undue
limits on energy consumption.
KENYA called for GEF support in facilitating the CDM and implementing adaptation
measures. THE GAMBIA called for membership of the Multilateral Consultative Committee and
participation in the CDM on an equitable geographical basis. SENEGAL said the debt burden
was a serious hindrance to sustainable development and the marginalization of Africa made
equity a particular concern. INDIA stressed the distinction between luxury and survival
emissions. ZAMBIA said climate change programmes should be linked to poverty eradication.
Recognizing that the lack of multilateral financing constitutes a major obstacle to
implementing the Convention and noting the slow and complex process to access GEF funds,
DJIBOUTI supported the establishment of an independent financial mechanism to finance the
CDM for poor countries.
BURUNDI underscored the need for improved access to technological information and
knowledge and capacity building, especially for African delegates participating in the
climate change process. CÔTE D'IVOIRE stated that the CDM should not be a substitute for
official development assistance or support from the GEF. SWITZERLAND called for
coordination between various international environmental agreements, particularly the
Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. PARAGUAY highlighted its interest in the potential of the
The final plenary of COP-4, originally scheduled for 3:00 pm on Friday, 13 November,
did not begin until 6:00 am on Saturday, 14 November. In the interim hours, selected
delegates retreated into closed high-level negotiations, informal consultations, regional
meetings and friends of the President sessions. Many delegates remained in the
plenary hall and corridors waiting for indications of progress and commencement of the
Once the plenary finally began, the COP-4 President called on Parties to adopt a draft
resolution expressing solidarity with Central America in light of the recent tragedy
(FCCC/CP/1998/L.17). NICARAGUA thanked the Parties for their support and noted that the
region will require continued support. President Alsogaray announced the receipt of
national communications from Armenia, Kazakstan and Indonesia and the signature of the
Kyoto Protocol by the US. The total number of signatories currently stands at 60.
On the adoption of rules of procedure, she informed the meeting that no progress had
been made on the issue and the draft rules (FCCC/CP/1996/2) will continue to apply as
before. Regarding election of officers, consultations held by the Chairs of the subsidiary
bodies with the regional groups resulted in the nomination of the Central African Republic
as Vice Chair of SBSTA and Switzerland as Vice Chair of SBI, to be followed by Iran.
JORDAN reconfirmed its offer to host COP-5 and said it had already begun negotiations
with the Secretariat on arrangements. He requested the President to ask the Executive
Secretary to continue discussions with Jordan with a view to reaching a decision by 11
December. The proposal was accepted.
Delegates adopted ten decisions on outstanding issues. They also adopted a Plan
of Action, under which Parties declared their determination to strengthen the
implementation of the Convention and prepare for the future entry into force of the Kyoto
Protocol. The Plan contains the Parties resolution to demonstrate substantial
progress according to the timeframes within the decisions on: the financial mechanism; the
development and transfer of technology; the implementation of FCCC Articles 4.8 and 4.9,
as well as Protocol Articles 2.3 and 3.14; AIJ; the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol; and
the preparation for COP/MOP-1 (FCCC/CP/1998/L.23). The President indicated that the
decision would convey a sense of coherence and balance.
COP Rapporteur Maciej Sadowski (POLAND) introduced the report of the COP
(FCCC/CP/1998/L.6 and Add.1). It was adopted without amendment.
SWITZERLAND commented on the process of reaching these decisions. He said there was a
significant lack of transparency in the manner in which the extended Bureau was set up. He
remarked that although small working groups were necessary, the process of delegation to
the working groups should be transparent and democratic. He stated there must have a clear
mandate from the plenary. He called upon the Bureau and the Secretariat to draft a
proposal to elaborate an open and interactive mechanism for establishing working groups.
The FCCC Executive Secretary referred to the Swiss statement and views expressed to him
from environmental NGOs concerning the style of negotiations. He indicated that he wanted
the process to be inclusive and promised to work on the issue. He also stated that the COP
produced a solid plan of action and firm deadlines that will generate results over the
next two years. COP-4 came to a close at 6:54 am on Saturday, 14 November 1998.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF COP-4
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE IN BUENOS AIRES
Two distant, but intimately related, events during the Fourth Conference of the Parties
in Buenos Aires, resulting in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, will color the memories of
most participants and observers. The first was the much anticipated decision by the host
country to break ranks with most of its partners in the G-77/China and signal its
willingness to undertake a binding commitment at COP-5 to abate its greenhouse gas
emissions. The second event followed less than 24 hours later in New York with the United
States signing of the Kyoto Protocol. The moves in Buenos Aires and New York
displayed all the choreography of a well executed tango with their timely cues and
The United States and Argentina stole the show at a Conference marked by an apparent
lack of ambition from the outset, with its focus on the production of a work plan to
elaborate the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and pursue the implementation of the
UNFCCC. The key outcomes were determined during the final day of informal negotiations
overseen by the COP President, Maria Julia Alsogaray, Secretary of Natural Resources and
Sustainable Development of Argentina. Most countries were reduced to the role of onlookers
sometimes locked out of informal meetings, a situation which provoked a rebuke by a Swiss
delegation during the closing COP Plenary. Complaining about the lack of transparency, the
Swiss delegate asked the Secretariat to ensure that there would be no repetition of the
lock-out at future meetings. Much of the negotiation conducted before the arrival of
ministers in the second week turned out to be little more than a dress rehearsal for the
political decision making during the sometimes heated high-level exchanges. Some suggested
that the President, by failing to seek and accept advice on issues, was ill prepared to
cope with some of the complex dynamics of negotiations within the UN system.
This analysis will confine itself to a brief survey of the significance of the
Argentina and US initiatives and an assessment of how the debate on the work programme
became and was always destined to become more than an exercise in setting important
At the meeting of the subsidiary bodies in Bonn in June, the Parties to the UNFCCC
experienced a distinct loss of momentum as they stumbled over debates about priorities for
the COP-4 agenda. A number of key issues up for discussion generated divergent views
around their meaning and significance, not least a debate on the treatment of UNFCCC
Articles 4.2 (a) and (b) on the review of the adequacy of commitments. Some of the
flattening in momentum was also attributed to Decision 1/CP.3 from COP-3, which failed to
provide clear guidance on what must be accomplished in Buenos Aires. Given
this background it was probable that the hopes of some NGOs and Parties that substantive
work would begin on elaborating principles for the operation of the "Kyoto
Mechanisms" of the Protocol would be set back.
it takes two to tango: The United States decision to sign the Kyoto Protocol
after Argentina stepped out from the ranks of the G-77/China to take on a binding
commitment must be seen in the context of one of the first debates of COP-4 one
that touched on a fault line running through the entire UNFCCC since 1995 when the
G-77/China was fractured by a decision to establish the Berlin Mandate. As expected,
despite overwhelming opposition at the subsidiary bodies meetings and a pre-COP meeting,
Argentina placed an item on voluntary commitments for developing countries on the
provisional agenda. COP President Maria Julia Alsogaray responded to G-77/China opposition
by striking the item off the agenda and suggesting that informal consultations between
interested countries proceed. It was later reported that such discussions between Annex I
and non-Annex I countries had taken place. The United States led the support for informal
With Argentine President Carlos Menems announcement, during the second week of
the COP, that Argentina would undertake a voluntary commitment to abate its GHG emissions
at COP-5, the host country took a further step towards meeting Washingtons
requirements. At a press briefing Wednesday evening, Eizenstat called President
Menems decision historic and signaled that Argentinas undertaking
to assume a voluntary commitment at COP- 5 constituted the kind of meaningful
participation by a developing country that is a precondition for US ratification of
the Protocol. Most significantly, perhaps, Eizenstat echoed President Menems view
that new pathways to allow developing countries to become full partners will
have to be found. One NGO observer suggested Argentinas decision was the most
significant development on voluntary commitments because it opened up the prospect of a
new negotiation process to allow a developing country to accept binding commitments. It is
understood that nobody, including the Argentine government, has worked out the exact
modalities or even the general framework for this groundbreaking procedure.
The Argentine announcement immediately fed speculation about US plans and within 24
hours the US signed the Kyoto Protocol in New York. The significance of the timing is best
observed in the remarks of US Senator Chuck Hagel following the US decision. He said:
In signing the Kyoto Protocol, the President blatantly contradicts the will of the
US Senate. The Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which passed 95-0 in the Senate last year, was very
clear and bipartisan. It explicitly stated that the United States should not be a
signatory to any protocol that excludes developing countries from legally binding
commitments or that causes serious harm to the US economy. Arguably, President Bill
Clinton believes that the Argentine development has begun to dismantle his opponents
argument that developing countries are excluded from legally binding commitments. At the
close of COP- 4, Stuart Eizenstat hinted that further announcements of developing country
commitments can be expected. When asked to identify Parties who might assume voluntary
commitments, he said the small island States of Niue and Nauru had expressed interest in a
greater level of engagement with the climate change regime. At the close of the COP,
President Alsogaray reported that countries from both Latin America and Africa had also
expressed interest in Argentinas approach.
The COP Presidents determination to facilitate informal consultations on the
issue of developing country commitments in the face of stiff opposition from within her
country group (G- 77/China) demonstrated a single mindedness that attracted much
criticism. Argentinas ambition is linked, in part, to its candidature for membership
of the OECD and close links between Presidents Menem and Clinton. In pre-Kyoto bilateral
negotiations, both men addressed Joint Implementation and credits. As the host country and
close US ally, Argentina was perfectly situated to break from the ranks of the G-77/China
and both facilitate and accelerate an evolution in the UNFCCC process, which has been
paralleled by growing interest in the developing world in the CDM.
One of the architects of the Kyoto Protocol has suggested that the language of
"voluntary commitments" may not survive because the terminology has become has
become tainted by the contentious debate between the Umbrella Group (Japan, US,
Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway and New Zealand (JUSSCANNZ) and Russia) and the
G-77/China over developing country commitments. Voluntary commitments remains
a source of profound and polluting suspicion within the process. In much the same way as
the loaded language of "flexible mechanisms" has given way to the term,
"Kyoto Mechanisms," observers believe that the term "voluntary
commitments" may disappear from the discourse of the climate change regime to be
re-cast in more acceptable language. Some countries, such as Indonesia and the Republic of
Korea, displayed more willingness to contemplate new commitments before the United States
and JUSSCANNZ transformed the issue into a cause celebre.
Great expectations: There was an expectation in some quarters that COP-4 would be a
relatively straightforward, business-like meeting where some of the principal decisions
would be no more contentious than setting tight deadlines for a work programme, notably
for the elaboration of the "Kyoto Mechanisms." One EU participant commented:
In retrospect the COP should not have been about winning things, but about getting
on with the job. For a number of reasons this was not to be. The attempt by
Argentina to place voluntary commitments for developing countries on the COP-4 agenda on
day one set a tone of suspicion at the outset. Developing countries raised their guard
against any hint of new obligations or associated conditionalities. This contributed to
the deadlock in the debate on the review of the adequacy of UNFCCC commitments (Articles
4.2 (a) and (b)), forcing a postponement of the issue. The G-77/China continues to view
the inadequacy of commitments in terms of the poor performance of Annex-I Parties, while
developed country Parties insist that the problem is a lack of global participation,
particularly by key developing countries such as China and Brazil. Moreover, the nature of
the COP-4 agenda presented a compelling opportunity for the G-77/China to maximize its
leverage to secure concessions, notably within the UNFCCC- related agenda items such as
technology transfer, finance and capacity building and by creating a quid pro quo between
these issues and its cooperation on the work plan for the elaboration of the Kyoto
Mechanisms. This, in part, resulted in a round of "hostage taking" at the final
session of the SBI when Parties withheld support for a number of key elements in draft
decisions and exchanged brackets. The imminent arrival of ministers further contributed to
the drive to hold back on agreements. The linkages between the demands by the G-77/China
for financial and technical assistance, associated with a desire to remain free of any
attempt by developed countries to build in conditionalities that might draw them into new
commitments, led to unusually complex linkages. Right up to the closing hours of the
negotiations on Saturday morning, for example, there were long and difficult exchanges on
what turned out to be a win for the G-77/China on GEF funding. The debate about adverse
impacts and compensation (Articles 4.8 and 4.9) also became tied up in the package. The
OPEC countries tried and failed to link Articles 4.8 and 4.9 and associated Kyoto Protocol
measures to an EU drive to include policies and measures in the work programme.
The resulting exchanges between negotiators were described as confrontational in
a mild form but, all in all, a wasted opportunity. Parties came away with a positive
outcome that indicates a clear desire to move forward with a plan of work. The task of
agenda setting turned into a complex attempt to anticipate important debates and exercise
leverage. Expectations that substantive work during the COP over priority issues such as
CDM were thus frustrated.
Conclusion: It is difficult to categorize COP-4 as a clear success or failure. The
outcome contains a number of wins for the G-77/China, such as useful gains on technology
and finance issues. Both the EU and the Umbrella Group (for which the US acted as
spokesperson at the final round of high-level negotiations) had reasons to promote such an
outcome. The EU was conscious of the lack of attention paid to G-77/China demands in Kyoto
and made serious efforts to address them in Buenos Aires. The Umbrella Group had a strong
interest in moving quickly on the elaboration of guidelines and principles for the
flexibility mechanisms. With the prospect of Argentinas voluntary commitment at
COP-5, the US has begun to see the results of its strategy to create conditions for the
evolution of the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol process and mechanisms. The inability to reach
agreement in the subsidiary bodies and the consequent need for high-level political
decision-making once again underlined the inadequacy of the existing processes to resolve
the complex issues at stake. One modest response to this situation was a decision to make
greater use of intersessional ministerial meetings, an indication that the Kyoto Protocol
is destined to absorb the time and energy of political administrations throughout the
Speaking at COP-3, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar said the key test
for Kyoto Protocol process would be its ability to send a powerful economic signal to
policy makers and the markets. Regular ministerial engagement with the process suggests
that the political signal is gaining strength. Industry representatives at COP-4 reported
that there is evidence, too, that the economic signal is penetrating new business and
industry constituencies who are responding with greater pragmatism and increasing interest
in identifying business opportunities. In the final analysis, the significance of this
meeting may not lie in the specifics of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action but in the fact
that despite their vastly differing positions delegates remained committed to restoring
the momentum of the process by embracing the discipline of self imposed deadlines.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES: The FCCC Subsidiary Bodies will meet from 31 May
11 June 1999 in Bonn, Germany. Jordan has expressed an interest in hosting COP-5, which
will be held from 25 October 5 November 1999. For more information contact the FCCC
Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: [email protected]; Internet: http://www.unfccc.de/.
INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION, MARKETING, INNOVATION AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR
RENEWABLE ENERGY: This seminar will meet from 22-28 November 1998 in Brighton, UK. It
is sponsored by the Commonwealth Science Council, Elsevier Science Ltd., Overseas
Development Organization, UNESCO, the World Energy Council, and the World Renewable Energy
Network and will examine the role of renewable energy systems in meeting the world energy
demand for electricity. For more information contact: A.A.M. Sayigh, Director General of
World Renewable Energy Network; tel: +44 1189 611364; fax: +44 1189 611365; e-mail: [email protected].
CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE INTRA-AMERICAS: VULNERABILITY, ADAPTATION, AND MITIGATION
CONFERENCE: The Organization of American States will co-sponsor the international
conference "Climate Change in the Intra-Americas: Vulnerability, Adaptation and
Mitigation," along with the US EPA, the Climate Institute, and the International
Hurricane Center. The event will be held at Florida International University in Miami,
from 30 November - December 4, 1998 (two days of training workshops and three days of
conference with breakout sessions). For more information see http://www.cpacc.org/infoev.htm, or contact
Sheryl Onopchenko, OAS; tel: +1 202 458-3552.
IEA INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON TECHNOLOGIES TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS:
This workshop, co-sponsored by the International Energy Agency and the US Department of
Energy, will be held 4-6 May 1999 in Washington, DC. For more information, contact: John
Newman, International Energy Agency; tel: +33 1 40 57 67 15, fax: +33 1 40 57 67 49,
e-mail: [email protected] or Jeffery Dowd, US
Department of Energy; tel: +1 202 586-7258; fax: +1 202 586-4447; e-mail: [email protected].
AIR POLLUTION CONFERENCE: The International Conference on Modelling, Monitoring
and Management of Air Pollution will be held from 27-29 July 1999 in San Francisco, USA.
For more information contact: the Conference Secretariat, AIR POLLUTION 99, Wessex
Institute of Technology, Ashurst, Southampton, SO40 7AA, UK; tel: +44 (0) 1703 293223;
fax: +44 (0) 1703 29285; e- mail: [email protected];