The Second Committee of the UN General Assembly considered Agenda Item 96(d), "Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations," on 15-16 November 1995. The Executive Secretary of the Convention, Michael Zammit-Cutajar, presented the final report of the Chair of the INC/FCCC (A/50/536) and the report of the Secretary-General (A/50/716). The former lays out the preparatory work that has been undertaken, describes the outcome of COP-1, and assesses the current state of play in the Convention. The report of the Secretary-General requests that the General Assembly endorse the principle of an institutional linkage between the Convention Secretariat and the United Nations. It also appeals to the General Assembly to respond to the COP's request to finance the conference-servicing costs of the Convention bodies from the United Nations programme budget. Such financing would specifically apply to six weeks of meetings per year until the end of 1999. The report also relates the Secretariat's plans both for the transfer of fund balances remaining at the end of the year and for transitional arrangements of administrative support to the Convention Secretariat for the coming biennium. Cutajar appealed to Parties to make their contributions to the 1996 Convention budget prior to 1 January 1996, and to the General Assembly for a positive response to the request for financing of conference services from the UN programme budget.
On behalf of the President of the first session of the Conference of the Parties, Angela Merkel, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, Takao Shibata (Japan) reported on the accomplishments of COP-1. Twenty-one decisions were adopted by consensus. The Berlin Mandate was established and provides a process for further commitments on the part of industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond the year 2000. As the majority of delegates agreed that current commitments are inadequate to achieve the objectives of the Convention, the Berlin Mandate will address the need to quantify limitation and reduction objectives within specific time-frames. COP-1 also took decisions relating to the format and review of national communications of Annex I Parties. Such communications will be subject to an in-depth review by experts nominated by both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This review process should be completed by COP-2. Another achievement of COP-1 was the establishment of a pilot phase for activities implemented jointly. Notable among the decisions regarding the institutional arrangements for the Convention Secretariat is the institutional linkage of the Secretariat with the UN. This linkage will facilitate the work of the Secretariat by providing it with an established framework of rules and regulations, as well as appropriate administrative support services. Along these lines, the COP requested that the General Assembly finance the conference-servicing costs of the sessions of the COP and its subsidiary bodies from the UN programme budget.
PHILIPPINES: On behalf of the G-77 and China, Cecilia Baltazar Rebong reaffirmed the Group's commitment to the objectives of the Convention, and to the fulfillment of their obligations. The G-77 urges its developed country partners to fulfill their obligations under the Convention, particularly those pertaining to the provision of new and additional financial resources and the transfer of technology on preferential and concessional terms. It is essential that immediate action be taken to address the climate change issue, and this action must be predicated on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The ratification of the Convention by 144 States and one regional economic integration organization is an encouraging indication that the global community agrees on the central importance of global climate protection.
SPAIN: Santiago Gomez-Acebo, on behalf of the European Union, said the EU reaffirms its commitment to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000 and called upon the other Annex I Parties to the Convention to do the same. The decision contained in the Berlin Mandate to begin a process for taking action beyond the year 2000, including the strengthening of commitments of the Parties included in Annex I is a major achievement. The European Union trusts that the decision to establish the Secretariat of the Convention in Bonn will contribute to setting the future work of the Convention on solid ground.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: On behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Amb. Annette des Iles noted the particular vulnerability of small island States to the consequences of global climate change, as evidenced by the devastation caused by the recent onslaught of storms in the Eastern Caribbean and the Pacific, and the pressing need to take immediate action to deter global warming. The Draft Protocol submitted to the Convention by AOSIS in September 1994, which recommended that developed countries reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by the year 2005, was not accepted as hoped at COP-1. However, AOSIS was pleased with the Berlin Mandate, which notes that current commitments are insufficient to fulfill the mandate of the Convention. AOSIS will continue to work with the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate to ensure the adoption of a legal instrument to achieve the additional and necessary commitments called for in the Mandate. While the Berlin Mandate is crucial in addressing further commitments beyond the year 2000, it is critical that the current commitments of the Convention be fulfilled, and that the industrialized countries lead the way, as was expressly called for in the Convention. The leadership role assigned to the industrialized countries also entails the provision of support and technology to developing countries to better enable them to fulfill their commitments.
SAMOA: Andrea Williams-Stewart reported that the annual meeting of the South Pacific Forum took place in Papua New Guinea two months ago, where the concerns of Pacific nations regarding climate change were reaffirmed. She outlined two matters of fundamental importance to the progress of the AGBM. The first is the urgency of concluding the work of the AGBM by 1997, so that its results can be considered at COP-3. The second matter concerns the results of the IPCC's Second Assessment Report, which clearly indicate the reality of climate change and the necessity and economic feasibility of taking urgent action. The fact that certain Parties are requesting further analysis has raised concerns that the work of the IPCC and others will be duplicated, and the completion of the Berlin Mandate process will be delayed. There have, however, been some promising initiatives made in the AGBM process, such as the European Union's proposal for an outline protocol framework, which was tabled at the last session of the AGBM.
INDIA: Sharad Pawar said that the Climate Change Convention embodies not only the control of greenhouse gas emissions to protect the global climate, but also the goals of poverty eradication, achievement of sustained economic growth in developing countries, and averting the negative impact of climate change on food production and on the livelihood and habitat of the poor. The ability to address all of these issues depends on the obligations of the Annex I countries to take the first steps to fulfill their commitments under the Convention, as well as to provide new and additional resources and technologies to developing countries. Although it has been acknowledged that the commitments under the current Convention are inadequate, there has been reluctance to proceed and define further reductions. In fact, after Berlin, many are even challenging existing commitments. The burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be shared equitably by developed and developing countries, and this equity entails an understanding of historical and cumulative emissions. Procrastination on the part of the developed countries will only impair the ability of developing countries to achieve their development aspirations and worsen the situation for all inhabitants of the planet.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Adam Vai Delaney said the threats of global warming, sea-level rise, and the immense potential to change the world's atmosphere, are central to understanding the urgency of the issues related to the Convention. The Berlin Mandate is not adequate. The decision concerning concrete emissions reduction targets for the next century needs strengthening. Necessary support should urgently be given to the establishment of the permanent Secretariat in Bonn. For the Convention to succeed, Annex I countries will have to adopt a more constructive partnership and assume responsibility for the huge quantities of greenhouse gases they have emitted into the atmosphere over the last century. The transfer of clean, affordable technologies is an obligation under the Convention and will contribute towards improving the efficiency of global energy consumption.
VENEZUELA: Jacnedine Dordelly said her country has adopted measures to prevent the emission of greenhouse gases. She reaffirmed Venezuela's determination to do its share in the international arena to address climate change issues. Environmental protection must be compatible with economic growth and sustainable development.
CHINA: Yang Yanyi recalled the obligation of developed countries to take the lead in combating climate change, and to provide new and additional financial resources and transfer environmentally sound technologies to assist the developing countries in fulfilling their commitments. These obligations have not been fulfilled, and the threat of global climate change remains. The decisions taken at Berlin, such as the establishment of the SBI and the SBSTA, the agreement on the GEF as the interim financial mechanism, and the pilot phase for activities implemented jointly, are encouraging steps toward the realization of the goals of the Convention. Most important, however, was the agreement to intensify the commitments of the developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which by no means should increase the obligations of the developing countries. China is committed to doing its part to address climate change based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
MARSHALL ISLANDS: Espen R�nneberg stated that the findings of the IPCC, which testify to the reality of climate change, are indeed being confirmed by the increasing frequency and severity of storms. These storms are ever more damaging to the economies of the affected countries, particularly the most vulnerable small island States. It is imperative that the actions mandated in the Convention be undertaken immediately to avert climatic disaster on a global scale. Support and funding for adaptation measures should be a priority, as should work on mitigation efforts. Urgent attention should also be focused on the completion of the work of the Berlin Mandate. Efforts to improve the prospects for future global climatic stability must not be sacrificed for short-term economic interests.
FIJI: Graham E. Leung stated that the momentum must be maintained to ensure that the work of the AGBM is completed on time. The widest possible participation in these negotiations should be supported, given the overriding importance of strengthening the commitments of the Convention. He expressed concern that at the conclusion of the first session of COP-1, questions regarding rules of procedure and the composition of the Bureau remained unresolved. It is crucial that a representative of the small island developing States be included on the Bureau of the COP, considering their special stake in this issue. Matters relating to rules of procedure are trivial in light of the pressing need to strengthen commitments, and these matters must therefore be resolved once and for all so that the substantive and important work can be accomplished.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Ha-Yong Moon urged the Parties to establish goals and timetables for greenhouse gas emission reductions as soon as possible. He stressed the importance of acknowledging the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The most effective way to ward off global warming is to employ cleaner and more efficient technologies, and these technologies must be made available to developing countries. In this regard, the formation of the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) by the OECD is a step in the right direction. Another crucial element in combating global warming is scientific and technological capacity-building in developing countries.
EGYPT: Abdel-Gaffar Eldeeb said a clear link between climate change and economic development must be established. Parties to the Climate Change Convention must look at new developments, since recent reports have emphasized that the dangers of climate change have become a reality. An additional protocol should be drafted to address these new findings. Such a protocol should not pose additional burdens on developing countries. Increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in developed countries must be addressed.
SRI LANKA: Prasad Kariyawasam said that Sri Lanka is in the process of implementing its commitments under the Climate Change Convention. An Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee has been established to coordinate and monitor activities applicable under the Convention. Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Manila Declaration at the Asia Pacific Leaders Conference on Climate Change. The country's first report on greenhouse gas emissions has been prepared as part of a regional study undertaken by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The possibility of establishing a separate financial mechanism for the Convention should not be prematurely dismissed, in light of the insufficiency of funds available from the GEF for national projects pertinent to the Convention.
IRAN: Mohammad Jabbary stated that developing countries should not be expected to implement policies or accept requirements that jeopardize their efforts toward social and economic development and the eradication of poverty. Furthermore, Annex I Parties, as the primary emitters of greenhouse gases, have not made adequate attempts to fulfill their commitments under the Convention. The necessary transfers of technology and financial resources to developing countries, as stipulated in the Convention, are also sorely lacking. The objectives of the Convention will be difficult to achieve in the presence of these inconsistencies.
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