Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 12 No. 221
Monday, 1 December 2003
NINTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN
FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
1-12 DECEMBER 2003
The Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP-9) to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
and the Nineteenth Sessions of the COP’s Subsidiary Body for
Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and
Technological Advice (SBSTA) open today at the Fiera Milano Congress
Center in Milan, Italy.
Over 4000 participants are expected to attend the
session, where delegates will continue to address a number of
issues. Participants will consider financial matters, including the
Secretariat’s programme budget for 2004-5 and the Special Climate
Change Fund, as well as other issues related to the review of
implementation of commitments and provisions of the UNFCCC. Issues
related to the preparations for the first session of the COP serving
as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/ MOP-1)
will also be addressed, including land use, land-use change and
forestry (LULUCF) activities under Protocol Article 12 (Clean
Development Mechanism). A high-level segment including round-table
discussions will be held from 10-11 December.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO
Climate change is considered one of the most
serious threats to sustainable development, with negative impacts
expected on human health, food security, economic activity, water
and other natural resources, and physical infrastructure. Global
climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising
concentrations of anthropogenically emitted greenhouse gases in the
Earth’s atmosphere are leading to changes in the climate. According
to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the effects
of climate change have already been observed, and a majority of
scientists believe that precautionary and prompt action is
The international political response to climate
change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992. The UNFCCC
sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric
concentrations of greenhouse gases in order to avoid "dangerous
anthropogenic interference" with the climate system. Controlled
gases include methane, nitrous oxide, and, in particular, carbon
dioxide. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, and now has
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: In 1995, the first
meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) established the
Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, and charged it with reaching
agreement on strengthening efforts to combat climate change.
Following intense negotiations culminating at COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan,
in December 1997, delegates agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that
commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a
market economy (EITs) to achieve quantified emission reduction
targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I Parties,
agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by
at least 5% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 (the first
commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to
country. The Protocol also established three mechanisms to assist
Annex I Parties in meeting their national targets cost-effectively:
an emissions trading system; joint implementation (JI) of
emissions-reduction projects between Annex I Parties; and a Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) that encourages projects in non-Annex I
(developing country) Parties.
At subsequent meetings, Parties negotiated most
of the rules and operational details determining how countries will
cut emissions and measure and assess emissions reductions. To enter
into force, the Protocol must be ratified by 55 Parties to the
UNFCCC, and by Annex I Parties representing at least 55% of the
total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. To date, 120 Parties have
ratified the Protocol, including 32 Annex I Parties, representing
44.2% of the emissions.
THE BUENOS AIRES PLAN OF ACTION: In November
1998, Parties met at COP-4 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and agreed to
a set of decisions known as the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA).
The BAPA set COP-6 as the deadline for reaching agreement on the
operational details of the Protocol and on strengthening
implementation of the UNFCCC. Issues to be addressed included rules
relating to the mechanisms, a regime for assessing Parties’
compliance, accounting methods for national emissions and emissions
reductions, and rules on crediting countries for carbon sinks.
Issues under the UNFCCC requiring resolution included questions of
capacity building, the development and transfer of technology, and
assistance to those developing countries particularly vulnerable to
the adverse effects of climate change or to actions taken by
industrialized countries to combat climate change.
COP-6 PART I: COP-6 and the resumed SB-13
were held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 13-25 November 2000.
During the second week of negotiations, COP-6 President Jan Pronk
(the Netherlands) attempted to facilitate negotiations on the many
disputed political and technical issues by convening high-level
informal Plenary sessions. After almost 36 hours of intense talks in
the final two days of COP-6, negotiators could not agree on a range
of topics, particularly financial issues, supplementarity in the use
of the mechanisms, compliance and LULUCF. On Saturday afternoon, 25
November, President Pronk announced that delegates had failed to
reach agreement. Delegates then agreed to suspend COP-6 and resume
negotiations in 2001.
COP-6 PART II: In March 2001, the US
administration repudiated the agreement reached in Kyoto, stating
that it considered the Protocol to be "fatally flawed," as it would
damage its economy and exempt key developing countries from
emissions reduction targets. Parties reconvened at COP-6 Part
II and SB-14 from 16-27 July 2001, in Bonn, Germany. After
protracted consultations, President Pronk presented his proposal for
a draft political decision. Despite support from several Parties,
disagreements surfaced over the nature of the compliance regime.
After several days of consultations, ministers agreed to adopt
President Pronk’s political decision, with a revised section on
compliance on 25 July 2001. The political decision – or "Bonn
Agreements" – needed to be operationalized through COP decisions.
These decisions were considered a "package," and since no agreement
was reached on the mechanisms, compliance and LULUCF, all draft
decisions were forwarded to COP-7.
COP-7: Delegates continued discussions on the
"Bonn Agreements" at COP-7 and SB-15 in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 29
October to 10 November 2001. After lengthy negotiations, a package
deal on LULUCF, mechanisms, Protocol Articles 5 (methodological
issues), 7 (communication of information) and 8 (review of
information), and input to the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) was proposed. Although the deal was accepted by
most regional groups, some Annex I Parties, including Australia,
Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation, did not join
the consensus, disputing, among other things, eligibility
requirements and credit banking under the mechanisms. However,
following extensive negotiations, the "Marrakesh Accords" were
SB-16: Parties met at SB-16 in Bonn from 5-14
June 2002. Participants considered several issues previously left
off the agenda due to the pressing BAPA negotiations. Views on the
direction of the climate process differed, with some Parties looking
back to recent debates and others looking ahead toward the next
commitment period. Many hoped the Protocol could enter into force by
the WSSD in August 2002. The EU and Japan announced their Protocol
ratifications just prior to the WSSD.
COP-8: Delegates to COP-8 and SB-17 met from
23 October to 1 November 2002, in New Delhi, India. On the final day
of COP-8, they adopted the Delhi Declaration on Climate Change
and Sustainable Development. The Declaration reaffirms
development and poverty eradication as overriding priorities in
developing counties, and recognizes Parties’ common but
differentiated responsibilities and national development priorities
and circumstances in the implementation of UNFCCC commitments.
Parties at COP-8 considered institutional and procedural issues
under the Protocol and adopted several decisions, including on the
rules and procedures for the Executive Board (EB) of the CDM.
SB-18: Delegates to SB-18 met in Bonn from
4-13 June 2003, and continued to address issues under negotiation
since COP-8 and prepare for the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force.
Conclusions were agreed on a number of issues, but the issue of the
Secretariat’s programme budget for 2004-5 and the Special Climate
Change Fund proved to be particularly difficult, and will be further
considered at COP-9.
WORKSHOPS ON SYNERGIES AND COOPERATION WITH OTHER
CONVENTIONS: Two workshops, one mandated by SBI-15, and the
other mandated by SBSTA-17, were held back-to-back in Espoo,
Finland, from 2-4 July 2003. Participants discussed different
approaches to addressing synergies among MEAs, focusing on several
challenges, including: principles to guide efforts to achieve
synergies; practical ways to achieve synergies at the national
level; the role of the international community in providing impetus
to achieving synergies; and enhancement of synergies and linkages at
the convention level by the international community. Participants
also heard presentations on national experiences in achieving
synergies and discussed cross-cutting areas under the UNFCCC, the UN
Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on
WORLD CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: The World
Climate Change Conference was held from 29 September to 3 October
2003 in Moscow, the Russian Federation, and was aimed primarily at
the scientific community to address divergent views on existing
scientific findings, including those reflected in the IPCC Third
Assessment Report (TAR).
WORKSHOP ON ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION: This
workshop, mandated by decision 5/CP.7 (adverse effects), was held
from 18-19 October 2003, in Tehran, Iran. Participants discussed the
needs and options of non-Annex I Parties regarding the need to
address economic diversification in the contexts of the adverse
effects of climate change and the impact of the implementation of
response measures. Participants also considered possible support
programmes by Annex II Parties to address developing country needs
for economic diversification.
EXPERT WORKSHOP ON LOCAL COPING STRATEGIES AND
TECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION: This workshop was held in New
Delhi, India, from 12-13 November 2003, in conjunction with the
Climate Technology Bazaar and Conferences hosted by the Government
of India. Participants addressed local coping strategies in the
context of the science and methodologies for adaptation to climate
change. They also held an exchange of experiences on coping
strategies and technologies, addressing cross-cutting issues,
drought and aridity, and floods, cyclones and tropical storms.
MEETINGS OF CONSTITUTED BODIES: Several
meetings of the UNFCCCï¿½s constituted bodies have been held since
SB-18. The CDM EB met for its tenth meeting from 28-29 July 2003, in
Bonn, and for its eleventh meeting from 16-17 October 2003, also in
Bonn. The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Expert Group (LEG) held
its fourth meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan, on 8 and 12-13 September. The
Consultative Group of Experts on non-Annex I national communications
(CGE) met from 23-24 September 2003, in Mexico City, Mexico. A
special meeting of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT)
was held from 11-12 November 2003, in New Delhi, India.
PRE-SESSIONAL CONSULTATIONS: Pre-sessional
consultations were held in Milan in the days leading up to COP-9,
addressing: the IPCC TAR; registry systems; definitions and
modalities for including afforestation and reforestation activities
under the CDM; and the implementation of UNFCCC Article 4.8 and 4.9
(adverse effects) and progress on the implementation of activities
under the related decision 5/CP.7. The twelfth meeting of the CDM EB
was held from 27-28 November, and the EGTT convened its fourth
meeting from 28-29 November.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
OPENING PLENARY: COP-9 will open at 10:00
am in Plenary I.
SBI-19 OPENING PLENARY: SBI-19 will open at
3:00 pm in Plenary II. Parties are expected to adopt the SBI-19
agenda, and address non-Annex I national communications.
SBSTA-19 OPENING PLENARY: SBSTA-19 will open
at 3:00 pm in Plenary I. Participants are expected to adopt the
SBSTA-19 agenda, and discuss the IPCC TAR and methodological issues.