by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 12 No. 153
Tuesday, 14 November 2000
SIXTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
MONDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2000
The Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the resumed thirteenth sessions of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies opened on Monday, 13 November, in The Hague, the Netherlands. Delegates met in the morning for a welcoming ceremony. This was followed by the opening COP-6 Plenary, during which Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, was elected COP-6 President. Participants then considered organizational matters, adopted the meeting’s agenda, and heard general statements by delegates.
The thirteenth sessions of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies resumed late afternoon in a joint session to consider adverse effects, the Protocol mechanisms, a compliance regime, and capacity building. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) convened in the evening to consider several agenda items, including land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), guidelines under Protocol Articles 5 (methodological issues), 7 (communication of information) and 8 (review of information), and policies and measures. The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) addressed organizational matters, national communications, the financial mechanism, and administrative and financial matters. In addition, contact groups met to discuss the mechanisms and technology transfer.
The Welcoming Ceremony began at 10:00 am with the arrival of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. COP-6 President-designate Jan Pronk welcomed participants. Noting the "unmatched success" achieved by negotiators at Kyoto in reaching agreement on quantified emissions targets, he said COP-6 participants face the greater challenge of agreeing on the instruments and details to achieve these targets. He noted that developing countries are the least culpable for problems resulting from climate change and have the least economic resilience, yet will suffer the most devastating consequences. While acknowledging the significant differences between countries’ positions on key issues, he said that reasonable compromises are possible on all issues, and urged delegates to take principled, balanced and credible decisions.
Wim Deetman, Mayor of The Hague, expressed the hope that this would become the city where history will be made in the development of climate change management. He particularly welcomed young participants and said it was important that their voices are heard. Delegates then listened to readings by Dutch actor Aus Greidanus of short quatrains on climate change written by Dutch national poet Gerrit Komrij.
In a pre-recorded video message to delegates, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions was enormous, and would require "radical change." He said success would require a credible rulebook on climate change, a new path and commitment to development, and a convincing signal to the business community that reducing greenhouse gases is in their best interests. He drew attention to support at the recent United Nations Millennium Summit for every effort to be made to bring the Kyoto Protocol into force by 2002.
Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), described the current state of scientific understanding of the Earth’s climate system, highlighted the vulnerability of ecological systems, and underlined the need for effective policy and technological responses. Noting that the last two decades have been the warmest in 1000 years, he said the question is no longer whether the climate is changing in response to human activities, but rather how much, how fast, and where. He noted a projected increase in global mean surface temperatures of about 1.5oC - 6oC by 2100 (almost double the previous IPCC predictions), an increase in sea levels, and increases in the frequency and magnitude of the El Nino effect, and outlined the negative implications of these increases for water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems and human health. He highlighted anticipated decreases in precipitation in existing arid areas and underlined the likely increase in insect-borne vector diseases. Underlining the need to decarbonize the economy, he urged governments to undertake significant technological and policy responses, and in particular to promote increased public and private sector research and development.
OPENING STATEMENTS AND ELECTION OF COP-6 PRESIDENT: Jan Szyszko, President of COP-5, opened COP-6, stating that it was possible to reach agreement and ensure that the Protocol entered into effect before the end of 2002, but that many difficult issues had still to be resolved. He expressed his gratitude to those who had provided assistance during his presidency.
Jan Pronk, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment of the Netherlands, was elected President of COP-6. He reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the interests of all delegations will be served by the UNFCCC.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar drew attention to the evidence presented by Robert Watson, and underscored that action to deal with climate change cannot be delayed. He said developing countries should feel supported in their efforts to address climate change and its impacts, and all Parties should consider the Protocol to be ratifiable. He said substantive results should be reached during the first week of COP-6 so political agreements could be sealed by mid-next week, allowing technical drafting to take place before close of the meeting.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Status of ratification of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol: COP-6 noted that the UNFCCC now has 183 Parties, and invited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in its work as an Observer.
Adoption of the rules of procedure: President Pronk said there was still no consensus on draft rule 42 (voting). COP-6 decided to apply the draft rules with the exception of this provision.
Adoption of the agenda: COP-6 then adopted its agenda, with the exception of item 5 "Second review of adequacy of Article 4.2 (a) and (b) of the Convention" that the G-77/China has proposed to amend as "review of the adequacy of implementation of Article 4, paragraph 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention". President Pronk said he would consult on this issue.
GENERAL STATEMENTS: NIGERIA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, said COP-6 discussions should be based on equity and justice. Noting that many Annex I Parties had not fulfilled their UNFCCC commitments on reducing emissions or on technology transfer and financial assistance, he said his group rejected the proposal by a "key Annex I country" tying the provision of financial assistance for developing countries to some form of new emissions reduction commitment by these countries. He urged provision of funding through a mechanism other than the GEF.
SAMOA, speaking for AOSIS, said that despite the adoption of the precautionary principle in 1992, Annex I countries are yet to act to address climate change. FRANCE, on behalf of the EU, stressed that domestic actions should be the main means for fulfilling developed country commitments.
SWITZERLAND, on behalf of the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, said the CDM should be based on an incremental approach, that JI should follow a two-track approach, and that liability under emissions trading should be linked to the nature and scope of the enforcement branch of the compliance regime. On sinks, he opposed credits for the natural uptake of greenhouse gases.
VANUATU, on behalf of the LDCs, called for assistance in implementing the UNFCCC and Protocol, and the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC urged a specific decision on UNFCCC Article 4.9 (adverse effects on LDCs). KAZAKHSTAN reaffirmed its will to become an Annex I Party and called for no limits on emissions trading.
JOINT MEETING OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODIES
SBSTA Chair Harald Dovland (Norway) opened the first joint resumed meeting of the subsidiary bodies. He said the Chairs of contact groups held at SB-13 Part I would resume their tasks, and requested reports on recent consultations and workshops held since SB-13 Part I.
ADVERSE EFFECTS: Bo Kjellén (Sweden), Co-Chair of the contact group on UNFCCC Article 4.8 and 4.9 and Protocol Article 3.14 (adverse effects), said progress had been made in recent consultations, in particular on Article 4.9, following the outcome of a workshop for LDCs.
COMPLIANCE: Neroni Slade (Samoa), Co-Chair of the Joint Working Group on compliance (JWG), reported that informal consultations had provided an opportunity for delegates to examine the consequences of non-compliance, as well as the approaches for the adoption of the compliance procedures and mechanisms. He said a revised text had been prepared that would serve as a basis for the negotiations.
MECHANISMS: Contact Group Chair Kok Kee Chow (Malaysia) said new text had been elaborated drawing on views expressed at SB-13 Part I, subsequent submissions by Parties, and during bilateral and multilateral consultations. He also noted that joint consultations on cross-cutting issues had been held with the compliance group.
CAPACITY BUILDING: Chair Dovland recalled that the subsidiary bodies had agreed to continue consideration of the issue on the basis of two draft decisions, one for countries with economies in transition and one for developing countries.
ACTIVITIES IMPLEMENTED JOINTLY (AIJ): On AIJ under the pilot phase, Chair Dovland said Parties had agreed to defer consideration of the draft revised uniform reporting format to SB-14. He noted, however, that there may be need for a decision depending on the outcome of negotiations on mechanisms, and asked Chair Chow to consult on a possible draft COP-6 decision.
LULUCF: Contact group Co-Chair Halldor Thorgeirsson (Iceland) reported on recent informal consultations. He identified outstanding issues to be resolved, including definitions, accounting and reporting, interlinkages with work on Protocol Articles 5,7 and 8 and potentially Articles 6 and 12, and a possible limitation on credits.
Chair Dovland noted that the chairs of the contact groups on LULUCF and the mechanisms will consult informally on the relationship between LULUCF and the CDM, and report back to the COP President’s coordination meeting on how to proceed.
PROTOCOL ARTICLES 5, 7 & 8: Contact group Co-Chair Helen Plume (New Zealand) reported on progress made at SB-13 Part I, as well as at informal consultations held in October. She said a number of difficult issues and technical details remained unresolved. Without pre-judging the number of decisions to be adopted, she added that her aim was to complete the guidelines under Articles 7 and 8, and prepare draft decisions on Articles 5.1 (national systems), 5.2 (adjustments), 7 and 8.
IMPACT OF SINGLE PROJECTS ON EMISSIONS IN THE COMMITMENT PERIOD: Chair Dovland reminded delegates of the draft decision proposed by Iceland at COP-4 and said further work would be conducted in a contact group.
DEVELOPMENT & TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGIES: Chair Dovland said the contact group chaired by Jean Cooper (Canada) and Oladapo Afolabi (Nigeria) formed at SB-13 Part I will continue its deliberations.
POLICIES AND MEASURES: Chair Dovland noted that SBSTA had agreed to continue consideration of the elements on a draft decision on "best practices" in policies and measures. He said further consultations would be held.
OTHER MATTERS: On international aviation bunker fuels, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported that activities in response to Protocol Article 2.2 (reduction of bunker emissions) were underway. He said an expert group within ICAO has initiated actions aimed at providing the technical and economic policy basis for decisions on limiting or reducing greenhouse gases that could be taken by the ICAO Council. He requested SBSTA/ COP decisions not to preclude the participation by international aviation in the Kyoto mechanisms. SAUDI ARABIA objected to the report, stating that it was yet to be finalized and adopted by ICAO, and was based on the findings of a very limited group with experts mainly from Annex I countries. Chair Dovland said he would consult on wording for the conclusions.
COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS: The Global Climate Observing System Secretariat presented its progress report, highlighting, inter alia: the significant developments on ocean and terrestrial sequestration observation systems; and the organization of regional workshops to identify developing countriesï¿½ capacity building needs.
The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity introduced a note on the cooperation with the UNFCCC. He said collaboration falls into two main areas: impacts of climate change on biodiversity and consideration of response measures; and integration of biodiversity considerations in implementing the UNFCCC and its Protocol.
ANNEX I COMMUNICATIONS: SBI Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) opened the meeting and introduced documents containing greenhouse gas inventory data from Annex I Parties for 1990-98, and on the progress of the in-depth review of Annex I Partiesï¿½ second national communications.
NON-ANNEX I COMMUNICATIONS: Provision of financial and technical support: Chair Ashe introduced a document on the financial support provided by the GEF to non-Annex I Parties in preparating their national communications. MAURITANIA, for the G-77/CHINA, stressed that lack of funding and support for inventory compilation and national communications significantly influenced accuracy of the data and the rate at which progress was being made.
In addition, a representative of the Consultative Group of Experts reported on outcomes of the second meeting of the Group and, with Mexico, emphasized the importance of continuing the UNDP/GEF National Communication Support Programme. The Secretariat introduced its Second compilation and synthesis of non-Annex I Partiesï¿½ initial national communications.
FINANCIAL MECHANISM: Chair Ashe introduced documents containing a report of the GEF to COP-6 on its activities under the financial mechanism, and a review by the GEF of its climate change enabling activities. The G-77/CHINA said this review was the function of the COP, that it had not been requested, and that the funding used should have gone to developing countries. LEBANON said the review had fulfilled its objective, and supported the recommendation that the GEF guidelines be more flexible. SWITZERLAND said the review of the GEFï¿½s enabling activities was a high quality report that is strong on findings and recommendations. Regarding guidance on the financial mechanism, Chair Ashe said this issue had been considered at SB-13 Part I, and consultations would resume later this week.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL MATTERS: On late payment of contributions, Chair Ashe noted that informal consultations had been held, but further consideration would be postponed until SB-14, given the amount of work during COP-6. He also noted that a document had been prepared outlining the latest status of financial contributions.
MECHANISMS: Delegates considered the recently revised Chairsï¿½ text developed following the recent intersessional consultations. On the draft decision and rules relating to the CDM, discussions focused predominantly on the issue of including sinks. BOLIVIA and COSTA RICA requested Chair Chow to formally seek technical advice from the LULUCF contact group. TUVALU, SAMOA and the FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA urged postponing discussions until the remaining uncertainties relating to LULUCF had been addressed. Objecting to the tactic of pressing for a discussion on sinks so as to gain a negotiating advantage, BRAZIL argued that the issue could only be addressed once key aspects had been resolved in the LULUCF contact group.
On other CDM issues, SAUDI ARABIA recalled that several Parties had objected to a prompt start. NORWAY, AUSTRALIA and the US highlighted the need to streamline the text on participation. The US underlined the issue of baselines. The EU urged streamlining text on validation particularly as regards baselines.
On JI, the US and AUSTRALIA urged inclusion of the CDM text on baselines and additionality. INDIA, CHINA and BRAZIL recommended inclusion of a clear definition on assigned amounts, and, opposed by the US, suggested deleting the existing reference to assigned amount units. INDIA recommended definitions on transfer and acquisition. SAMOA and MAURITANIA urged specific reference to the share of proceeds assisting LDCs and Small Island Developing States.
On emissions trading, CANADA and AUSTRALIA argued that the chapeau decisions should be brief and reflect Protocol and UNFCCC provisions. The US, AUSTRALIA and CANADA argued that decision text relating to verification and accountability procedures for legal entities should be addressed by the contact group on Articles 5,7 and 8. On registries, INDIA, opposed by the US, argued that there was no need for a separate addendum.
DEVELOPMENT & TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGIES: This contact group resumed deliberations on the implementation of UNFCCC Article 4.5 (development and transfer of technology). Delegates heard brief reports of the three regional workshops held during 1999 as part of the consultative process.
Delegates presented their views on the five themes outlined in the draft framework: technology needs assessment, technology information, enabling environments, capacity building and a technology transfer mechanism. The US, NORWAY, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, CANADA and JAPAN jointly presented proposals on each of the key themes.
The G-77/CHINA and others said the draft text was very weak and proposed basing discussion on its proposal for a draft decision, submitted at SB-13 Part I.
The US, on behalf of NORWAY, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, CANADA and JAPAN, announced that this group would submit a proposal for a draft decision. Co-Chair Afolabi said a draft revised text taking into account Partiesï¿½ proposals for a draft decision and the comments presented in the meeting will be available on 14 November.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As negotiations enter their final round, delegates pondered over how to reconcile the time pressures with the expectation of a positive outcome by the conclusion of COP-6. While President Pronk reminded delegates Monday that "time is scarce," some delegations have been pushing for greater transparency, reminding colleagues that this is a guarantor of an equitable and just outcome. Others, however, recall the frantic final days of COP-3 in Kyoto and are tempted to trade inclusiveness for manageability. As one delegate put it: "can the process be so transparent that it becomes invisible," thus failing to reach a satisfactory conclusion?
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
A number of contact groups meet tomorrow to resume consideration of negotiating texts.
JOINT WORKING GROUP ON COMPLIANCE: JWG will meet at 3:00 pm in Van Gogh (Plenary II).
ARTICLES 5, 7 & 8: This contact group will meet for the first time from 10:00 am in Escher Hall.
LULUCF: The first meeting of this contact group will begin at 10:00 am in Van Gogh Hall.
ADVERSE EFFECTS: This contact group will meet at 3:00 pm in Mondriaan Hall.
POLICIES AND MEASURES: This contact group will convene at 5:00 pm in Maris Hall.
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: The contact group will resume its work at 5:00 pm in Mondriaan Hall. A Co-Chairsï¿½ revised draft text taking into account Partiesï¿½ proposals for a draft decision and comments on the draft framework will be available.
FINANCIAL MECHANISM: The contact group will be held from 5:00 pm in Mesdag Hall.
MECHANISMS: Delegates will reconvene in the joint contact group at 8:00 pm in Van Gogh Hall.
CAPACITY BUILDING (EITs): A joint contact group will meet at 8:00 pm in Mondriaan.