On Tuesday, 17 December, the SBSTA considered Agenda Item 4(a), Longer-term programme of work (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/16 and Add.1). Delegates specifically considered priorities for methodological work, implications for the budget and necessary institutional and financial arrangements.
PRIORITIES FOR METHODOLOGICAL WORK: Numerous countries, including NEW ZEALAND, ECUADOR, the EU and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, supported the documents list of methodological issues that warrant special consideration. These include methods for (i) assessing mitigation measures and policies; (ii) projecting emissions; (iii) evaluating and monitoring the effectiveness of specific P&Ms; (iv) assessing mitigation technologies; and (v) evaluating AIJ and developing the concept of JI. The US said that no single method would be universally applicable and called on the SBSTA to avoid duplicating efforts, in particular with the IPCC. He suggested that governments nominate experts to be included in the process of developing methodologies.
MICRONESIA, supported by the MARSHALL ISLANDS, expressed concern about channeling GEF funds and urged that higher priority be given to adaptation methodology. AUSTRALIA suggested giving the highest priority to methods for assessing mitigation and emissions projections. He urged the SBSTA to monitor real changes in GHG concentration in the atmosphere, and to include this issue under methodological topics. ECUADOR suggested giving priority to methods for projecting emissions and for evaluating AIJ. NEW ZEALAND prioritized methods for assessing mitigation measures, projecting emissions and evaluating the effectiveness of P&Ms. He reminded the IPCC not to engage in policy recommendations.
The EU urged the SBSTA to play a supervisory role for methodological work and requested that the Secretariat review means of funding work on methodologies. AUSTRALIA suggested additions to the Secretariats budget. The MARSHALL ISLANDS concurred with this and, supported by ECUADOR, suggested requesting the governing bodies of international organizations to give a high priority to work in support of the FCCC process.
Informal consultations led to a draft conclusion, noting a need for work on methodological issues relating to climate change, encouraging cooperation on this with other bodies and requesting the Secretariat to prepare an initial draft work plan utilizing expert advice. In adopting the text, language referring to methodological issues related to AIJ was deleted. KUWAIT proposed adding socio-economic analysis to the list of methodological topics proposed. The EU objected, but withdrew its objection in lieu of deferring the entire conclusion to SBSTA-5.
POSSIBLE REVISIONS TO THE GUIDELINES FOR THE PREPARATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY PARTIES INCLUDED IN ANNEX I OF THE CONVENTION: On Agenda Item 4(b), Possible revisions to the guidelines for the preparation of communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, the Secretariat introduced three documents. Documents FCCC/SBSTA/1996/9/Add.1 and Add.2 highlight electricity trade, bunker fuels, use of global warming potentials (GWPs), accounting for land-use change and forestry, temperature adjustments, and present options for action. Document FCCC/SBSTA/1996/MISC.5 contains comments from Parties.
The MARSHALL ISLANDS, NORWAY, MICRONESIA and INDIA favored deferring consideration of this issue and requesting Parties to submit comments. The MARSHALL ISLANDS and INDIA said they would allow provision of supplementary information based on the documents. AUSTRALIA supported the revisions to guidelines but called for work on defining anthropogenic emissions.
The issue of adjustment was raised not only regarding temperature adjustment, but also regarding electricity trade and bunker fuels. Unadjusted reporting was generally preferred, with supplemental adjusted figures. DENMARK noted that his country experiences random electricity emissions fluctuations due to climatic factors. He supported the continued use of reporting on actual, as well as adjusted levels of emissions, to correct for these fluctuations.
On the electricity trade, the US noted inconsistencies in reporting on imports and exports due to ad hoc adjustments, and called for emissions accounting where generated. Data on the trade and related emissions should be supplemental. He proposed that the Secretariat prepare a paper on electricity trading. AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND also favored the use of unadjusted figures. AUSTRALIA noted that electricity trading is part of the general issue of trade in high carbon intensive commodities.
On international bunker fuels, the US recommended unadjusted inventories but said supplemental data could include averaging over some period in order to estimate progress towards targets. Supported by NORWAY, he noted the need for a methodology for consistent emissions allocation. The US and NEW ZEALAND recommended narrowing the number of options for further action. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION also urged further work, particularly with other international organizations. MICRONESIA sought clarification on bunker fuels with regard to regionally- specific emission factors and suggested a roundtable on bunker fuels for SBSTA-5.
On temperature adjustments, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, INDIA and JAPAN favored unadjusted emissions reporting in inventories and a separate method for treating adjustments. JAPAN called for a unified approach to be discussed by the IPCC. AUSTRALIA highlighted that temperature adjustments are based on cyclical fluxes like other climatic events and, therefore, should follow the same conceptual approach. He proposed developing common national performance indicators within SBSTAs work programmme and having countries use these along with specific national ones.
On global warming potentials (GWPs), INDIA expressed concern about inconsistencies in their use and asked for comparability in reports. JAPAN suggested that Parties using GWPs utilize the GWP guidelines adopted at COP-2, but preferred reporting on GHGs gas-by-gas. NEW ZEALAND echoed this call for caution on GWP use.
On land use and forestry, MICRONESIA called for clearer definitions. AUSTRALIA noted that P&Ms cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of GHGs and, therefore, favored aggregating activities in all sectors for a net emissions figure. However, JAPAN noted methodological problems in this category and NEW ZEALAND said the issue of subtraction depends on resolving other issues. Both JAPAN and NEW ZEALAND favored the net approach, but until these problems are resolved JAPAN stated a preference for use of gross figures.
CONCLUSIONS: In the final session of the SBSTA on Wednesday, 18 December, conclusions were adopted that defer a decision on revising the guidelines to a future session and request further work on reporting on bunker and aviation fuel emissions, electricity related emissions, and technical and policy issues related to emissions adjustments and trade. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, on behalf of AOSIS, proposed deleting language making the option for no allocation of bunker fuels a priority for action. Following an EU objection, the option for no allocation will be considered. The conclusion was adopted as amended.
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