SBSTA Chair Tibor Farago (Hungary) opened the third session by noting the deadlocked state of many SBSTA issues and expressing hope that the spirit of cooperation would prevail. After a brief discussion during which VENEZUELA and KUWAIT suggested that a written report accompany SBSTA decisions, delegates adopted the provisional agenda for the session (FCCC/CP/1996/1/Annex I).
CONSIDERATION OF THE SAR: The Secretariat then introduced documents concerning consideration of the SAR (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/7/Rev. 1) and three addenda. He recalled the report of SBSTA-2 (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/8) and highlighted two paragraphs, one noting some delegations acknowledgment of specific findings, the other expressing some delegations view that it would be premature to give effect to specific findings. IPCC Chair Bert Bolin recommended that the SBSTA should not elaborate on specific findings but discuss the results more generally with the aim of taking political action and setting targets.
Many delegations, including the EU, the US, CANADA, ARGENTINA, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, COLOMBIA, NEW ZEALAND, BANGLADESH, NORWAY, FIJI, URUGUAY, MAURITIUS, JAPAN, BENIN, SWITZERLAND, MYANMAR, BULGARIA, SAMOA, MICRONESIA, the MALDIVES, NIUE, the MARSHALL ISLANDS and COSTA RICA, endorsed the SAR as the most comprehensive assessment of scientific information on climate change available and viewed it as a basis for urgent action.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION disagreed, saying that the SAR fails to identify the permissible level of human impact on the climate system. SAUDI ARABIA, OMAN, KUWAIT, the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE), VENEZUELA, IRAN, NIGERIA and AUSTRALIA thought it would be premature to make recommendations, citing a lack of certainty in the SAR data. The following views were also expressed: INDIA said natural climate variation and the effects of extraterritorial activities on climate change should be studied in greater detail; PAKISTAN and GEORGIA thought the SAR should be amended to reflect regional differences in climate change; and the PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA, BRAZIL and others said the SAR should be used as a comprehensive whole and not selectively. A Friends of the Chair group was formed to try to reach consensus regarding the use of the SAR. While Parties agreed that the IPCC should be commended for its work and encouraged in its continued cooperation with the SBSTA and the AGBM, the group was unable to resolve the key issue of the SARs use as a basis for action.
SBSTA submitted its draft decision (FCCC/CP/1996/L.11) to the COP with two bracketed paragraphs, the first noting some delegations view that the SAR should be used as a basis for urgent action to implement the FCCC, and the second noting other delegations opinion that the SAR should only be taken into account during consideration of the implementation of the FCCC, given the lack of scientific certainty in some of its findings. Both paragraphs were deleted, however, when considered in the closing Plenary.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM ANNEX I PARTIES: With regard to national communications from Parties included in Annex I, a possible revision of guidelines was circulated (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/9). JAPAN and the US proposed a separate informal session to revise the guidelines and a joint contact group between the SBSTA and SBI was established for this purpose. The G-77/CHINA, COLOMBIA, MARSHALL ISLANDS, MICRONESIA, UZBEKISTAN, INDIA and others said Annex I countries should communicate GHG emission limitations and their commitments concerning financial resources and technology transfer. MOROCCO said capacity building mechanisms should also be included. The EU supported expanding the minimal information required and suggested that revised guidelines include targets and timetables. AUSTRALIA called for the inclusion of performance indicators. BULGARIA, HUNGARY, POLAND and ROMANIA sought flexibility in report preparation for Parties with economies in transition and approval to use years prior to 1990 as their base years.
In its decision FCCC/CP/1996/L.13, the contact group proposed some amendments to current guidelines and continued review of the guidelines at SBSTA-4. This decision was adopted by the COP at the Closing Plenary.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM NON-ANNEX I PARTIES: A joint contact group involving both SBSTA and SBI delegates was also formed to address communications from non-Annex I Parties. The group established that its work would not be prejudiced by the COPs initial decisions on guidelines for communications on the abatement of emissions. Several delegations, including CHINA, KUWAIT, INDIA, COSTA RICA, the PHILIPPINES, CANADA, the US and JAPAN, acknowledged the cooperative efforts of non-Annex I Parties and endorsed their expanded reporting responsibilities. These include national inventories of anthropogenic GHG emissions and their removals by sinks, proposed steps to implement the Convention and, where possible, material relevant to global emission trends. Non-Annex I countries should also specify their development priorities, objectives and circumstances under which they will address climate change. The PHILIPPINES stated that non-Annex I Parties increased responsibilities should be reflected in funding mechanisms. The groups decision (FCCC/CP/1996/L.12) was adopted by the COP during the Closing Plenary.
ACTIVITIES IMPLEMENTED JOINTLY: On AIJ, delegates considered an annual review of progress under the pilot phase (FCCC/CP/1996/14 and Add 1). While most delegations were generally supportive of AIJ, several, including the G-77/CHINA, COLOMBIA, INDIA, URUGUAY, the PHILIPPINES and EL SALVADOR, expressed the need to better distinguish between AIJ projects and those implemented jointly between Annex I Parties. They said financing and technology transfer for AIJ projects must be supplemental to what is stipulated in the FCCC. The US, JAPAN, PANAMA, COLOMBIA, AUSTRALIA and others supported workshops for AIJ and many delegations recommended use of a uniform reporting format that is not onerous for developing countries.
The PHILIPPINES and EL SALVADOR highlighted the need for capacity building and analysis of social impacts for AIJ projects. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGULATORY UTILITY COMMISSIONERS said that AIJ should be a permanent part of the FCCC process. NORWAY thought it was premature to draw conclusions from the pilot phase at this time and proposed the establishment of an AIJ forum at SBSTAs December 1996 meeting. CHINA and MALAYSIA suggested postponing AIJ workshops until after COP-3 to avoid basing decisions on incomplete information. IRAN said the cost-effectiveness of AIJ projects should be considered and noted that some projects have been financed with GEF funds.
A joint SBSTA and SBI contact group recommended that the COP continue the AIJ pilot phase and invited Parties to continue reporting under the initial reporting framework adopted by SBSTA during its second session (FCCC/CP/1996/L.7). This decision was adopted by the COP at the Closing Plenary.
DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGIES: Regarding the development and transfer of technologies, delegates reviewed the initial report on an inventory and assessment of technologies (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/4/Add. 2) and a follow-up report (FCCC/CP/1996/11). The EU said priority should be given to identifying technology needs. IRAN and the US called for the establishment of an information center/clearinghouse for technology transfer. CANADA called for the creation of an environment enabling input from the private sector. The NETHERLANDS and the INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY described the Climate Technology Institute, an initiative to support the FCCC in addressing technology transfer needs.
On reconsideration of the issue, the Chair reported that it is a shared responsibility of SBSTA and SBI, and that SBI would take SBSTAs views on the issue and manage its progress through an open-ended working group. The working group recommended the following actions (FCCC/CP/1996/L.16), which were adopted by the COP during its final Plenary: enhancement of reports on access to and transfer of environmentally sound technology; prioritizing the completion of a survey on initial technology needs; active consideration of the Climate Technology Initiative; the expedition of reports on adaptation and mitigation technologies; the preparation of a roster of experts; and the organization of a technology transfer roundtable at COP-3.
MECHANISMS FOR CONSULTATIONS WITH NGOS: Delegates also considered issues concerning mechanisms for consultations with NGOs (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/11 and FCCC/SBSTA/1996/Misc. 2). The EU, JAPAN and others strongly supported the role of NGOs and remained open to tailoring different consultative mechanisms for different NGO constituencies. Recognizing the important role of industry in implementation of the FCCC, NEW ZEALAND and CANADA endorsed the development of a business consultative mechanism, although CANADA opposed open access to NGOs on the floor during negotiations. The US said expanding access to only one type of NGO would be inappropriate and suggested that existing consultative channels for all NGOs be strengthened. A representative from the environmental NGOs supported the US position and sought expanded access to the floor during negotiations. In contrast, a representative from the business NGOs supported the development of a business consultative mechanism given industrys ultimate role in implementation, but added that any process should be transparent. The Chair requested that New Zealand take the lead in forming a contact group on the issue.
NEW ZEALAND later presented the draft results of the group, which recommend that the Secretariat further explore current consultative mechanisms and propose procedures to improve their efficiency. No formal decision was taken on this issue. It will be considered at future SBSTA sessions.
On the roster of experts, the EU supported establishing an interim roster to provide insight on accessing and applying specialized technical advice. He endorsed adding adaptation technologies to the list of potential topics on which experts were sought. CANADA, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA, AOSIS and others supported the development of a roster of experts. KIRIBATI called for the inclusion of an expert on fisheries. The US recommended the issue be deferred until SBSTA clarifies the tasks envisioned for experts so they do not duplicate the work of other fora. The G-77/CHINA noted the need to include experts from developing countries and sought full transparency. He said experts should be strictly technical rather than political. The Chair later reported that while the issue was to be resolved in collaboration with the SBI, the SBI would manage the remaining progress, given the technical subject matter. No formal decision was taken on this issue. It will be considered at future SBSTA sessions.
RESEARCH AND SYSTEMATIC OBSERVATIONS: Regarding research and systematic observations, ARGENTINA, on behalf of the Valdivia Group, sought expanded research on natural climate variability in the region and on oceanic effects. IRAN and BURKINA FASO called for enhanced data collection at regional and subregional levels. CANADA, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, the US and AUSTRALIA endorsed the continuation of climate change research conducted by IGOs and national governments. UNESCO/IOC stated its intent to increase research regarding the oceans effects on climate change. The WMO expressed willingness to entertain specific research requests and cooperate with SBSTA in capacity building. The ICAO sought expanded research concerning the impact of aircraft emissions. No formal decision was taken on this issue. It will be considered at future SBSTA sessions.
COOPERATION WITH THE IPCC: Upon considering SBSTAs cooperation with the IPCC, many delegations, including the EU, AUSTRALIA, the US, CANADA and MYANMAR, endorsed the IPCCs efforts. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION sought clarification of SBSTAs relationship to the IPCC concerning the use of its data. No formal decision was taken on this issue. It will be considered at future SBSTA sessions.
PROGRAMME OF WORK: SBSTA was able to adopt its long-term programme of work, which provides the tentative schedule for forthcoming SBSTA sessions. Issues such as scientific assessments, national communications, AIJ and NGO consultative mechanisms will be considered.
Concerning the report of the third session, the Chair stated that he would present general oral comments on unresolved issues to the closing Plenary. Written comments may be included in the reports and recommendations submitted jointly by SBSTA and SBI. SBSTA concluded its third session on 16 July 1996, amid some feelings of frustration regarding the groups inability to reach agreement on the issue of the SAR.
[Return to start of article]