by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 12 No. 159
Tuesday, 21 November 2000
UNFCCC COP-6 HIGHLIGHTS
MONDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2000
Delegates met in a morning Plenary session to consider the reports of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies and organizational matters. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands then joined participants to hear speeches by Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and French President Jacques Chirac.
In the afternoon, delegates heard statements from observer States, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and UN bodies. In addition, an informal high-level Plenary meeting of ministers and senior officials, chaired by COP-6 President Jan Pronk, met late afternoon to begin negotiations at the ministerial level by hearing statements on outstanding issues.
REPORTS OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODIES: Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA): COP-6 President Pronk opened the Plenary meeting and invited SBSTA Chair Harald Dovland to present the results of SBSTA’s 12th and 13th sessions. Chair Dovland reported that one agreed draft decision was being forwarded by the SBSTA to the COP for adoption, in addition to eight SBSTA draft decisions and four joint draft decisions of the subsidiary bodies for further consideration by the COP. The decision put forward for adoption is on Protocol Article 5.1 (national systems). Chair Dovland also identified key outstanding issues on the other draft decisions. On activities implemented jointly, he said the key issue was whether the pilot phase should continue. Regarding national systems, he highlighted the need to make a decision on questions of demonstrable progress, and on reporting and review of assigned amounts. In relation to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), he raised questions of how to ensure full reporting of emissions from deforestation and separate removals from sinks by direct human-induced activities and natural effects. With regard to the mechanisms, he noted that agreement had been reached on a "prompt start" for the CDM, on the features of its institutional architecture, and on the need for regional balance. He said the decisions on policies and measures (P&Ms) and on single projects also remained to be considered.
Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI): John Ashe, Chair of the SBI, reported on the outcome of the work of the SBI during its 12th and 13th sessions. He took note of a draft resolution from SB-12 in June 2000 expressing solidarity with certain countries in Southern Africa, in particular Mozambique, following the devastation caused by Cyclone Eline, as well as a draft decision on the dates of the sessions of the subsidiary bodies for the year 2004. He then introduced the conclusions of SB-13, and the draft decisions transmitted to the COP. On administrative and financial matters, he said consideration of late contributions had been postponed until SB-14. He noted the need for further consultations to forge consensus on the draft decision(s) on implementation of UNFCCC Article 4.8 and 4.9 and Protocol Article 3.14, and the draft decision on this issue to be forwarded to COP/MOP-1. He said the draft decisions on capacity building in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition also contain numerous brackets.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: On the election of officers other than the President, COP-6 President Pronk reported briefly that some regional groups had requested more time to reach agreement on their nominations. He proposed that the COP-5 Bureau continue in office in the meantime.
STATEMENTS BY PARTIES: Delegates then heard two country statements. Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, drew attention to the dike built by concerned citizens in front of the Congress Center where this meeting is taking place, and said he appreciated its symbolic signficance. He said the Netherlands would achieve half of its emissions reduction target of 6% through domestic measures, and half through the mechanisms. On developing countries and development cooperation, he said the Netherlands would commit 200 million Dutch Guilders for adaptation measures and capacity building, which would be additional to previously agreed contributions. He concluded that a "worldwide package deal" was needed at COP-6, and that participants should not leave without an agreement on the provision of adequate and substantial assistance to developing country Parties. Other elements of the outcome should include the identification of new patterns of production and consumption in industrialised countries, the creation of an international market for greenhouse gas emissions permits, and preferential treatment for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the financial mechanisms and the UNFCCC.
Jacques Chirac, President of France, said he had come to The Hague with a sense of urgency to make progress. He stated that since 1992, Parties had fallen too far behind in taking actions to combat climate change, and cautioned against further delays. Suggesting that "everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move" in negotiations, he highlighted that the US produces a quarter of the world’s emissions, and that the per capita US levels of emissions are three times higher than those of France. He called on the US to join other industrialized nations in making a successful transition to an energy-efficient economy. He said the EU had a duty to set an example by developing more economical forms of consumption and production in terms of natural resources. He also stated the intention of the EU member States to ratify the Protocol in 2002.
On the outcome of COP-6, President Chirac said an effective, equitable agreement that leaves room for future developments should be reached. He supported an independent and impartial compliance mechanism, effective cuts by Annex I countries of their emissions, and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to the consequences of climate change. He said each country has a duty to build structures that cut its own emissions to a minimum on a sustainable basis. He emphasized that flexible mechanisms should not be seen as a means to escape domestic measures. In this regard, he voiced France’s support for GEF funding to be increased. He called for a prudent approach to carbon sinks, and said the polluter pays principle should apply with regard to international air transportation emissions. He said the ultimate aim should be the convergence of per capita emissions.
STATEMENTS BY OBSERVER STATES, IGOS, NGOS AND UN BODIES: In the afternoon, delegates meeting in Plenary heard statements from 12 UN bodies, specialized agencies and related organizations, four intergovernmental organizations, 13 non-governmental organizations and one observer State. Several statements highlighted the need for decisions to ensure the environmental integrity of the Protocol and address financing of capacity building, adaptation and technology transfer. Several non-governmental organizations also stressed the need to allocate a more suitable time for their statements, to ensure that government delegates are available to hear them.
Noting the growing body of scientific evidence on the anthropogenic effect of climate change, the WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO) urged the COP to support climate research to resolve uncertainties, address the needs of the most vulnerable countries and ensure support to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to complete its Third Assessment Report. The IPCC said impacts such as the spread of diseases, rising sea levels, and bleaching of coral reefs will undermine the goal of sustainable development.
The WORLD CONSERVATION UNION (IUCN) expressed concern with the slow pace of negotiations. UNEP urged developed countries to make a prompt start in reducing their emissions under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The UN DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS stressed the importance of maintaining the broader principles of sustainable development within climate negotiations, and warned delegates against making these discussions too complex and technical for those outside to understand the process. The ORGANIZATION OF ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT (OECD) emphasized that effective action against climate change requires strengthened international cooperation and concrete national policies. The WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES urged the negotiators to focus on options that meet environmental effectiveness, equity and responsibility. MILIEUDEFENSIE stressed the common moral responsibility to "save" the UNFCCC and Protocol.
Several speakers highlighted the synergies between the UNFCCC and other multilateral environmental organizations. The CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION SECRETARIAT, RAMSAR CONVENTION SECRETARIAT and the UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY called for implementation of joint programmes and coordination of activities to avoid repetition. The CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY SECRETARIAT urged Parties to ensure that LULUCF activities are consistent with, and supportive of, maintaining biodiversity. UNDP underscored the importance of addressing climate change in the broader context of combating global poverty, noting the opportunities to address climate change and sustainable development through the energy sector. The WORLD BANK emphasized the link between environmental protection and poverty alleviation.
Several speakers highlighted the CDM and its contribution to sustainable development. The US BUSINESS COUNCIL FOR A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE supported domestic and early actions to address climate change now, a prompt start of the CDM, and translation of environmental objectives into business opportunities. UNIDO said bypassing countries with low emissions in the CDM in favor of larger emitters would be a lost opportunity to address social equity needs. He stressed capacity building to overcome existing barriers and take advantage of the CDM and JI. Noting proposals to exclude nuclear power from the CDM, the INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY urged Parties to consider nuclear energy in the context of climate change, stating that the concerns about safety and possible proliferation of weapons are not based on climate concerns. The CLIMATE NETWORK AFRICA emphasized the importance of a concrete adaptation fund.
On partnerships, the INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS urged governments to cooperate with business and labor organizations in meeting the long-term goal of addressing climate change, while the INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES (ICLEI) stressed the importance of supporting local governments.
On the inclusion of sinks to reduce greenhouse gases, IUCN stressed an ecosystem approach, focusing on multiple benefits and results. The GLOBAL LEGISLATORS ORGANIZATION FOR A BALANCED ENVIRONMENT (GLOBE) said there was a need for additional research on sinks to eliminate prevailing scientific uncertainties, while the INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (ICC) supported their inclusion. The INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S ORGANIZATION opposed attempts to include sinks in the CDM. The CONFEDERATION OF EUROPEAN FOREST OWNERS said forest products provide long-term carbon storage and that carbon stock changes should be calculated according to the growth in the volume of the forests, and not just changes in land use.
The INTERNATIONAL GAS UNION highlighted the opportunity offered by natural gas in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF REFRIGERATION urged taking advantage of the Protocol to boost technology transfer and to train developing country technicians to address greenhouse gas emissions from the refrigeration sector.
OPEC noted the adverse impacts of implementing the Protocol on the economies of developing country members. The GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF) affirmed its commitment to fully incorporate the outcomes of the COP into its efforts.
TURKEY, an observer State, called for its removal from the group of UNFCCC Annex II Parties and requested to be considered an Annex I Party with special circumstances.
INFORMAL HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY
President Pronk opened this meeting, stating that its purpose was to undertake negotiations at the ministerial level. He noted that countries had been seated in their negotiating groupings or alliances so as to allow better consultations among members. He distributed an informal note summarizing his personal perspective on the progress made last week and the "crunch issues" still to be resolved in order to strike a balanced deal on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. He said such a "help-desk" approach would assist countries in focusing on the "crunch issues" requiring political negotiations and decisions. These "crunch issues" relate to capacity building, technology transfer, adverse effects, guidance to the GEF, the mechanisms, LULUCF, P&Ms, compliance, Protocol Articles 5,7 and 8, and the cross-cutting issues of funding and funding mechanisms. He then invited Parties to make short political statements on the basis of which he will make a proposal so as to help political leaders in their work.
Emphasizing its commitment to make COP-6 a genuine success, the G-77/CHINA expressed its concerns on funding, capacity building, technology transfer, UNFCCC Article 4.8, 4.9 and Protocol Article 3.14 (adverse effects), and the CDM. He added that these issues should be discussed first. He highlighted the need for full participation by all members of the Group so as to ensure transparency and openness, and opposed any fragmentation. He then listed the G-77/China coordinators for each of the outstanding issues.
The EU and the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP supported grouping the "crunch issues" into clusters, and undertook to identify spokespersons for the individual issues by Tuesday morning. The EU underlined its strong belief that an agreement ensuring environmental integrity and equity would be reached by the end of the week.
Noting that the Protocol explicitly recognizes the role of forests as potential sources and sinks of carbon, the US argued that there is a growing consensus for the full inclusion of agricultural and grazing land, and broad recognition of the central role of forests, although less agreement on how to account for forests within the Protocol. He outlined a proposal on behalf of the US, JAPAN and CANADA to account for the contribution of forests in Annex I Parties. According to this proposal, all countries would be able to count fully not more than 20 million metric tonnes of annual carbon sequestration in managed forests. Noting concerns relating to scale, he proposed that currently projected sequestration beyond this level should be discounted by two-thirds. He argued that this approach, accompanied by full accounting for sequestration in farm land, preserves the nature of the Kyoto bargain and is a key element for success at The Hague.
Reacting to the US proposal, AOSIS said his group has a clear position on this subject, and that he looked forward to sharing it once the details of the US proposal were further clarified. BULGARIA, on behalf of the CENTRAL GROUP 11, said the Group would undertake to identify spokespersons for the individual issues by Tuesday, and would comment on President Pronkï¿½s informal note once members had studied the document. Noting the importance of environmental integrity, JAPAN highlighted the need for rules to operationalize the Protocol and mobilize the private sector. SAUDI ARABIA said Annex I Parties should present their financial commitments during the high-level meeting on Tuesday morning.
Concluding the meeting, President Pronk said he would make a proposal on Tuesday on the organization of the groupï¿½s work. He said the proposal would include combining and sequencing the issues, seeking Friends to help him to conduct discussions, and assisting ministers and high level officials in organizing informal meetings.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The corridors were buzzing Monday evening as delegates pondered over the outcome of the afternoonï¿½s informal high-level meeting, and speculated on the next steps that President Pronk will be suggesting Tuesday morning. The US move to add hard numbers to its proposal on LULUCF was seen by some as a pre-emptive compromise and a set back to the hard line position of countries that oppose additional activities. Others, though, characterized the proposal as a "fudge," arguing that the proposed full credit for 20 million metric tonnes of carbon is more than generous.
The manner in which President Pronk intends to try to organize the informal high-level meetings is still raising questions among delegates. Many participants had arrived at the high-level meeting on Monday expecting to hear President Pronkï¿½s proposal on how to deal effectively with the many remaining key issues. Some were questioning the extent to which the demand for transparency will either impede or increase the efficiency of the negotiations. Given the G-77/Chinaï¿½s opposition to an informal proposal to split negotiations into three issue clusters, participants wonder how President Pronk will proceed.
Another relevant point of discussion has been the the sequence in which ministers should take up the "crunch issues," with the G-77/China pushing to prioritize financial commitments and other key issues for developing countries.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY ï¿½ STATEMENTS BY PARTIES: Plenary will convene from 10:00 am in Prins Willem-Alexander Hall to hear policy statements delivered by Ministers and Heads of Delegation representing an estimated 115 Parties to the Convention. It is likely to continue throughout the day and late into the night.
INFORMAL HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY: The informal high-level Plenary chaired by COP-6 President Pronk, which first met on Monday afternoon, will reconvene at 10:30 am in Van Gogh Hall in an open session. President Pronk is expected to present his proposal for the organization of work of this meeting, and will attempt to encourage Ministers and Heads of Delegation to make progress on the outstanding political issues needing decisions at COP-6.