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UNFCCC COP-4
THE FOURTH MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
2 - 13  November 1998

ENB logo Version française: BNT

PHOTO & REAL AUDIO from 4 November's SPECIAL EVENTS

City vehicles: a stakeholder-based initiative for a sustainable transport sector

In a meeting arranged by the Stockholm Environment Institute (http://www.sei.se), participants discussed challenges to sustainable development faced by the transportation sector.

raworld.gif (1544 bytes) In this real audio interview, Deborah Wilson Cornland of the SEI discusses initiatives aimed at promoting clean city vehicles, as well as her hopes for the COP4.

3swed_s.jpg (4214 bytes) Deborah Wilson Cornland, PhD, deborah.cornland@sei.se, and Tommy Månnson, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), lead the discussion on an initiative for a sustainable transportation sector

Annex I Parties trends and statistics

Organised by the UNFCCC, the meeting presented Annex I trends and statistics, including an overview of the second compilation and synthesis of second national communications from Annex I Parties.

Information presented included changes in GHG emissions (1990-95) and Annex I projections.

unfccc_s.jpg (5665 bytes)raworld.gif (1544 bytes) In this real audio interview, the UNFCCC's James Grabert (pictured) talks about the overall trends and projections presented at this event.

The Clean Development Mechanism panel

This event saw the launch of a UNDP report called Issues and Options for The Clean Development Mechanism. The report includes contributions from invited authors with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives on the CDM.

3undp1_s.jpg (5186 bytes) Prof. José Goldemberg (the report's editor), Instituto de Eletrotécnica e Energia, Universidade de São Paulo, golemb@iee.usp.br, and Thomas Johansson, UNDP, thomas.johansson@undp.org were among a group of panlists that discussed these issues at the meeting.

raworld.gif (1544 bytes) In this real audio interview, the UNDP's Energy and Atmosphere Programme Director, Professor Thomas Johansson, talks about the meeting and the new report.

3undprla_s.jpg (8653 bytes)Dr. John S. Kilani, Environmental Advisor, South Africa, jkilani@bullion.org.za, discussed prospects for Africa to reduce emissions and Simon Worthington, Environmental Policy Advisor, British Petroleum, worthis@bp.com, outlined BP's move towards emissions reduction programs

Web site: http://www.undp.org


IGCC PANEL PRESENTATIONS

First panel: ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE

Moderator: Stephen Schneider

 3molitor_s.jpg (7702 bytes)  Michael Molitor, University of California (San Diego), Center for Environmental Research and Training (http://www-igcc.ucsd.edu), said the basic science supporting the climate change negotiations has characterized a slow and gradual build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities. This characterization has led many negotiators to believe that the climate system can be expected to react to growing human emissions through a slow and gradual, or "linear", response. The recent work of climate scientists now suggests that this view may not be completely accurate. Paleoclimate evidence now supports the possibility of abrupt changes in the climate system that could occur over time scales of decades instead of centuries. One important scenario is linked to rapid changes in the thermohaline circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. Negotiators need to think of the climate system as being capable of switching quickly from one mode of operation to another (i.e. "non linear" responses). This should have the effect of greatly modifying the perception of risk by negotiators and their willingness to take early action to lower emissions in the absence of complete scientific certainty concerning the timing and human impacts of climate change. Stefan Rahmtorf, Potstdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said rapid changes in the Atlantic ocean circulation are probably responsible for some of the dramatic climatic ‘flips’ that occurred during the last Ice Age. He suggested that there is a risk that the North Atlantic Current might collapse altogether in the long run if global warming continues unabated, and will be weakened by 20-50% over the next 100 years. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University, said it is increasingly evident that the climatic system, as noted in the 1996 IPCC Working Group I summary for policymakers, is a "non-linear system" and that "when rapidly forced, non-linear systems are especially subject to unexpected behavior." Jeff Severinghaus, University of California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said that recent discoveries from the Greenland ice core drilling program and from sediment cores in much of the world have demonstrated that the earth’s climate warmed abruptly, in less than a decade and perhaps as little as three years, during and at the end of the last ice age some 11,000 years ago. Climate appears to jump abruptly from one relatively stable state to another relatively stable state, much as a light switch response only after one pushes on it for some distance, and then t goes all at once. If for some reason such an abrupt event were to happen now, it would be far more destructive to society than the greenhouse gas induced warming that is generally expected, because our adaptation to a changes is critically affected by the speed of the change.

Peter Doran talked to raworld.gif (1544 bytes)Michael Molitor, the convenor of the Panel on Abrupt Climate Change,  about a number of issues to be raised at IGCC panels at COP-4. Molitor began with a summary of the presentations at the Abrupt Climate Change presentation.

3igcc_s.jpg (4307 bytes) Dr. Ray Weiss, University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dr. Richard Carson, IGCC Research Director for International Environmental Policy, http://www.igcc.ucsd.edu

Associated Publication: Richard C.J. Somerville (rsomerville@ucsd.edu) is the author of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change, a scientist’s account of climate change for the non-scientist.


Panel 2: THE CARBON CYCLE AND SINKS ENHANCEMENT

Moderator: Richard Carson

Sandra Brown of Winrock International discussed methods used to conserve or sequester carbon while at the same time meeting more traditional forestry objectives. She argued that the technical understanding necessary to measure changes in the carbon flows in forests already exists and can be procured at a relatively low cost. Jayant Sathaye, University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discussed concerns raised regarding forestry and carbon sinks within the context of the Kyoto Protocol.

Susan Trumbore, University of California, Irvine, addressed the complex issue of carbon in soils, which is stored mostly in the form of organic matter. Ray Weiss of the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, discussed the reservoir of natural carbon dioxide in the oceans.


THE ALUMINIUM LOBBY

One of the industry groups working the lobbies at COP-4 is the International Primary Aluminium Institute. Among their objectives are a confirmation of 1990 as the base year for validating reductions in GHG gases for the period 1990-2008, credit for early action to secure the benefits already achieved and to motivate further action by the industry, a market-based emissions trading system with permits issued at the national rather than at international level, and international global warming measures that have global coverage rather than being confined to OECD countries.

3alumin_s.jpg (7468 bytes)raworld.gif (1544 bytes) Peter Doran asked Robert Chase, Secretary General of the International Primary Aluminium Institute, about the challenge of climate change for the industry. He is pictured here with William Bjurke of the International Primary Aluminium Institute (bjurk@world-aluminium.org) and Alain Bergeron from Alcan (alain.bergeron/maison@alcan.com)

NEW REPORTS

 REPORT LINKS CLIMATE, POPULATION FUTURES

Expanding people’s power to plan their families could help pave the way to a stable climate, according to a new analysis of per capita greenhouse gas emissions from Population Action International (PAI). The resulting slower rates of population growth would facilitate development of an equitable system of tradable emissions permits that could improve the economic prospects of poorer countries while encouraging global emissions reductions.

Recent negotiations on climate change have all but ignored population trends, according to PAI’s analysis. But population dynamics will increase in importance as governments recognize the need to base long-term climate agreements on a concept of equal rights to use the atmosphere. The PAI report, Profiles in Carbon: An update on Population, Consumption and Carbon Dioxide Emission, is being released at COP-4.

"The atmosphere is the common property of all human beings, and the impacts of human-induced climate change will ignore national borders," said Robert Engelman, director of PAI’s population and environment program and author of the report. "Given the need for broad international support, future climate agreements must recognize that the limited capacity of the atmosphere to absorb greenhouse gases is a resource to be shared fairly by everyone."

Contact Details:
Population Action International: http://www.populationaction.org
Leslie Isom in Washington: lisom@popact.org


Miscelaneous photos:

3teri_s.jpg (7800 bytes)Representatives of the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) in New Delhi (http://www.teriin.org) present copies of two new publications to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. The new publications are "Climate Change: Post Kyoto Perspectives from the South" and "The Clean Development Mechanism: Issues and Modalities".
E-Mail: mailbox@terri.res.in

3brazil_s.jpg (5050 bytes) Luiz Gylvan Meira Filhe led a side event on "The Brazilian Proposal: the attribution of responsibilities for climate change"


3clock_s.jpg (9350 bytes)3usclock_s.jpg (7024 bytes) A clock at the United States Information Service wall counts down to the year 2000

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