COP-2 convened a Ministerial Segment from 17-19 July and heard over 100 statements. A number of issues were common to most statements, such as the adoption of protocol or other legal instrument. The majority of ministers supported a protocol, based on their endorsement of the SAR. However, some Parties disagreed on the need, type and timing for a protocol. The EU, and some of its member States such as SPAIN and ITALY, strongly endorsed the SAR as the basis for a protocol and urged decisive action. The US, in a shift from past positions, supported the development of a legally binding agreement to lower emissions. NEW ZEALAND stated that a protocol must lead to equitable marginal abatement costs across borders utilizing economic instruments. NORWAY outlined a legally-binding commitment that recognizes industry structures, is equitable and verifiable, and utilizes fiscal measures.
Some Parties, primarily oil producers, raised doubts on both the SAR and the need for urgent action. They also questioned the FCCC process and the economic impact of measures. NIGERIA stated that the FCCC cannot use the SAR as a basis for action and called for compensation to African countries for the economic consequences of a protocol. SAUDI ARABIA highlighted the need for an equitable approach and said the SAR should be considered by the COP in making balanced decisions. He called for a study on the impact of adopting policies and measures in developing countries. SYRIA said more research was needed in order to find the appropriate solutions. KUWAIT said there are no satisfactory answers to uncertainties and contradictory data. He said that despite inadequate knowledge about climate change and its impact some countries are calling for stringent measures that will impede international trade.
JORDAN expressed concern over the conclusions of the SAR, particularly as it addresses developing country impacts. VENEZUELA cautioned against putting fossil fuels on the accused bench. Rather than pursuing a carbon tax, which gives carte blanche to those with enough money to pollute, Parties should put resources toward research and development of technology. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the SAR does not yet provide sufficient policy information. AUSTRALIA said it would be premature to establish a particular point at which levels of GHGs become dangerous.
Regarding current commitments, some Annex I Parties were optimistic about their ability to reduce their emissions to below 1990 levels. SWITZERLAND said its GHG inventory indicates that carbon dioxide emissions may stabilize at 1990 levels by 2000. AUSTRIA stated that it has de-coupled economic growth and an increase of emissions and will meet the stabilization targets in the year 2000. The EU said its members are on course to return CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2000.
However, a number of developing countries, such as URUGUAY and VIETNAM, were critical of developed country progress on reaching 1990 levels, as well as their efforts toward fulfilling the Berlin Mandate. MALAYSIA called it regrettable that the AGBM is still exchanging views and is unable to narrow down policies and measures. He criticized the suggestion by some Annex I Parties that they be granted flexibility in meeting emission targets. PERU and BRAZIL said the credibility of Annex I Parties and the principle of equity are in danger. COLOMBIA stated that developed countries suffer from the disease of forgetting. ZAMBIA criticized some Annex I Parties for saying they are not legally bound to return to 1990 GHG levels. THAILAND said developing countries cannot be expected to undertake commitments in the near future, given the performance of Annex I Parties. The lack of progress by Annex I Parties on financial backing and technology transfer was also noted by CUBA, the PHILIPPINES, CHINA and INDIA.
Developing countries also voiced many other concerns. COSTA RICA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, called for strengthening developed country commitments through the establishment of policies and measures and QELROs within specified time frames. Some, including SENEGAL, focused on the GEF. GHANA called for expeditious funding from the GEF and noted that the GEFs actions depend on decisions of the COP and not the reverse. KENYA criticized GEF conditionality. EL SALVADOR said the COP should define criteria for use by the GEF. INDONESIA and UGANDA sought assistance with capacity building.
PORTUGAL, HUNGARY, UZBEKISTAN, GEORGIA, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, EGYPT, BANGLADESH, PAKISTAN, MEXICO, BENIN, MAURITIUS, MOROCCO and NEPAL reported on the effects of climate change on their country and national efforts to address the problem. BURKINA FASO, ETHIOPIA, ZAIRE, the GAMBIA, KENYA and CHAD highlighted the difficult economic and social context for developing countries in Africa and noted that increasing problems of desertification and drought indicate climate change. GUATEMALA, on behalf of the Central America Group, and PANAMA described political changes in their region and activities, such as recognizing the validity of the IPCC and promoting awareness of the human impact on the environment and consolidating national environmental legal instruments.
Small island developing States (SIDS) pointed out the potentially devastating consequences of climate change for their countries and expressed support for the AOSIS protocol. SAMOA, on behalf of AOSIS, endorsed the targets and timetables in the AOSIS protocol, which was introduced at COP-1. KIRIBATI stressed the coral atolls that comprise his nation are three meters above sea level, and urged that decisions under the FCCC be guided by the need to save the most vulnerable ecosystems. MALDIVES described itself as a front line State for climate change and the MARSHALL ISLANDS drew attention to regional studies on sea level rises that correlate closely with SAR findings. MICRONESIA noted the degree to which political considerations have hindered COP-2s discussion, and spoke against delegations shamelessly blocking consideration of the SAR. NIUE said that FCCC processes must be more flexible for small island States.
Countries with economies in transition noted their efforts in light of recent economic and political changes, and called for flexibility in meeting commitments. BULGARIA said the first national communication utilizes 1988 rather than 1990 base year data, due to a radical drop in production in 1990 following political changes. POLAND said reduced emission levels in countries with economies in transition helped to offset slight increases by OECD country Parties. ROMANIA, LITHUANIA and ALBANIA said economic and social progress must be harmonized with environmental protection by applying the principle of sustainable development. ARMENIA expressed caution about the adoption of a protocol including firm base years for GHG reductions, saying countries should not be completely prevented from developing. The CZECH REPUBLIC said that emissions in his country have decreased more than 20% since 1990 due to extreme economic changes, but such a shock approach is not available for all countries. SLOVENIA stressed the importance of appropriate technology.
Ministers also discussed policies and mechanisms needing further consideration by COP. AUSTRALIA, the US, BHUTAN and BOLIVIA highlighted the importance of AIJ, while DENMARK said AIJ must not be a loophole for subsidizing energy exports to developing countries nor a sorry excuse for postponing actions needed in developed countries. TANZANIA noted that technology transfer and capacity building should not be left to AIJ. INDONESIA welcomed AIJ on a voluntary basis.
Some developed countries noted the increasing need for cooperation to address climate change. GERMANY supported international cooperation that recognizes Parties common but differentiated responsibilities. JAPAN proposed creation of a foundation for global measures. Similar concerns were voiced by CÔTE DIVOIRE and TUNISIA, who called for international solidarity and encouraged technology sharing, and GREECE, who noted the need for international cooperation in achieving targets based on equity principles that address social and economic impacts. SUDAN and TURKMENISTAN encouraged international cooperation to revive traditional means of transportation and enhanced energy efficiency. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said the new SAR findings demand unity in tackling climate change.
Some delegations suggested the use of taxation schemes and economic instruments. SWEDEN and DENMARK supported coordinated measures in taxation, and FRANCE called for a tax on CO2 emissions and a simple differentiation mechanism. MOLDOVA suggested taxes on oil imports and excessive emissions and credits for technology transfer. FINLAND said international coordination is needed in the case of economic instruments. The UK called for removing subsidies on the use of fossil fuels, introducing competitiveness into energy markets, increasing road fuel duties, improving fuel efficiency in cars, increasing tax on aviation fuel by removing the present exemption and improving domestic efficiency standards.
The NETHERLANDS reported on the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) on behalf of the OECD and the EUROPEAN COMMISSION. The CTI is a linked set of international measures to promote awareness of technical responses to climate change and identify and share expertise between countries.
CANADA highlighted the participation of industry and NGOs in an open and transparent process. ICELAND underlined the need for additional efforts to fulfill the Berlin Mandate. BELGIUM emphasized the link between FCCC negotiations and those at the CSD and said the Special Session of the General Assembly will be the moment of truth. SRI LANKA stressed the need for sustained economic growth and alleviation of poverty when reviewing the implementation of the Convention. BOTSWANA stated that national communications are not useful in the long run if the data is not comparable. The DEMOCRATIC PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for GHG mitigation guidelines that are simple and equitable, taking different social and economic situations into account. ZIMBABWE said emerging interest groups had slowed negotiations and appealed to Parties to conclude issues blocking implementation. ARGENTINA called for a substantive and binding Ministerial Declaration to support the SAR, one based on consensus that is a convergence of opinion, not necessarily unanimity.
MINISTERIAL ROUNDTABLE: On Wednesday afternoon, 17 July 1996, Ruth Dreifuss, Head of the Federal Department of the Interior (Switzerland), chaired a closed Ministerial Round Table on political issues emerging from the agenda, with Ministers, Heads of Delegations and Executive Directors of international organizations. She later gave a report on the Round Table to the Plenary.
On new scientific findings in the IPCC Second Assessment Report and its consequences for political action, the Ministerial Round Table recognized the outstanding work of the IPCC scientists and agreed that the SAR provides important scientific elements to be considered in decision-making. Many ministers noted with concern the SARs conclusion that there is a discernible human influence on the global climate. Taking into account the precautionary principle, they underlined the need for urgent action at the widest possible level. A large majority endorsed the SAR as the basis for political action. The Round Table agreed that Parties should only ask the IPCC to respond to scientific questions.
Ministers also stressed the adverse social and economic impacts of climate change, particularly the impact on the agricultural sector. Representatives of small island developing States and African countries highlighted their particular vulnerability and the lack of technical and financial resources for prevention and adaptation, and called on the GEF to play an enabling role. On efforts needed to advance existing FCCC commitments, participants reiterated that developed countries must take the lead and strengthen efforts to stabilize GHG emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. The urgent need for collaboration between different ministries was highlighted.
Technology and financial transfers to developing countries were also underlined. Oil exporting countries voiced concern about the adverse economic impacts of Annex I Party commitments and called for re-evaluation and development of new uses for petroleum products. On strengthening Annex I Party commitments within the context of the Berlin Mandate, the ministers confirmed their willingness to accelerate negotiations so as to have a protocol or other legal instrument adopted at COP-3. They signaled the need to start negotiating text at AGBM-5.
GENEVA DECLARATION: On Thursday morning, the President introduced an advance text of a Ministerial Declaration, which was produced by a drafting group. In the afternoon, he returned to the issue of the Declaration, stating that it had emerged from consultations with a representative group of Friends of the Chair overseen by Canada. He asked the COP to take note of the Declaration and his introductory remarks, which will be included in his Report, and to annex the Declaration to the report of the Conference. This was accepted, but a number of delegates took the floor to express their concerns.
AUSTRALIA had difficulty with the aspect of the text committing Parties to legally binding targets in a final legal instrument without the nature and context being clear, and could not associate itself with the language on targets. The US wholeheartedly endorsed the Declaration and said the one point not specified was that the negotiated outcome must ensure maximum national flexibility for all Parties to implement their medium-term legally binding commitments. There is also a need to work toward a longer term concentration goal, and AIJ on a global basis and international emissions trading must be part of any future regime. NEW ZEALAND had difficulty with a reference concerning targets in the Declaration and his countrys support must be qualified by the view that it can only be advanced on the basis of a least cost approach.
SAUDI ARABIA, on behalf of VENEZUELA, IRAN, KUWAIT, UAE, SYRIA, QATAR, JORDAN, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, NIGERIA, OMAN, BAHRAIN, SUDAN and YEMEN, reported a lack of transparency throughout the Conference. He read a formal objection from this group of Parties to the adoption, approval or acceptance of the draft Ministerial Declaration due to the: lack of opportunity for the COP to discuss the draft; failure of the draft to reflect the views of many Parties as stated at COP-2, with the result that the draft reflects only some views that exist among the Parties; non- objective characterization and selective reference to some of the information in the SAR, resulting in a draft that is biased and misleading; and failure to adhere to the customary procedures of UN bodies and the absence of adoption of rules of procedure for the COP.
The EU fully and unequivocally supported the Ministerial Declaration and GHANA said the FCCC is a matter of life and death, and noted the need for the Declaration.
This high-level statement was christened the Geneva Declaration during the Closing Plenary on Friday, 19 July. When the President proposed that COP-2 take note of the Declaration and that it be annexed to the Report of the Session (FCCC/CP/1996/L.10), SAUDI ARABIA asked to have his statement annexed to the report as well.
The Geneva Declaration notes that the ministerial meeting is a demonstration of the intention to take an active and constructive role in addressing climate change. It states that the ministers and other heads of delegations: