Presented by the
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MEETINGS OF THE FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES
23 OCTOBER 1997
Delegates to the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Group on the
Berlin Mandate (AGBM-8) met in "non-group" sessions on
quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives
(QELROs), advancing the implementation of Article 4.1 and
institutions, mechanisms and compliance. The Subsidiary
Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA-7) held an
informal meeting with the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC). The Chair of the AGBM conducted a
briefing for observers on the progress of negotiations.
AGBM Chair Ra�l Estrada-Oyuela (Argentina) reported that
AGBM-8 delegates should focus on producing consensus, but
noted that many were still "playing games with brackets."
He also said that a new "non-group" (QELROs-2) chaired by
Bo Kjell�n (Sweden) was established to address some aspects
of QELROs, as well as articles related to, inter alia,
emissions trading, joint implementation, voluntary
commitments, review of national communications and review
of commitments. The non-group Chairs gave brief statements
on the upcoming work of their groups.
Responding to questions regarding the US position,
announced by President Clinton on Wednesday, he noted that
a number of questions would need to be answered. He
characterized the position as a "modest" offer but said he
was impressed that the US President had taken up the issue
himself. He said the outcome will depend upon the reaction
of other delegations, but noted that a position issued from
a Head of State does not leave much room for flexibility.
NON-GROUP ON QELROs-1
The US introduced its position as announced by President
Clinton on Wednesday. The position contained three
elements. The US will commit to a binding target of
returning emissions to 1990 levels in a budget period
between 2008 and 2012, to reducing net emissions of all
GHGs below 1990 levels in the five-year period thereafter
(between 2013 and 2018), and working for further reductions
in the years beyond that. It also called for a series of
flexible market mechanisms, including emissions trading and
joint implementation. The US will not assume binding
obligations unless key developing countries meaningfully
participate. He said this position reflects the fact that
if the entire industrialized world reduces emissions while
developing countries continue to grow at their current
pace, GHG concentrations will continue to climb.
The US also recalled that President Clinton announced a
domestic program, including a US$5 billion series of tax
incentives and research investments to encourage energy
efficiency and the use of cleaner energy. He also proposed
the creation of a domestic market-based system for reducing
emissions that will tie national efforts into a global
On the discussion of the consolidated negotiating text,
there was agreement that "each" of the Annex I Parties
would take on commitments regarding targets. Delegates
discussed whether Annex I Parties would "reduce," "limit"
or "stabilize" anthropogenic emissions of GHGs with a "net"
or "aggregate" approach and whether they would do it
individually or jointly. A regional group favored reducing
or limiting emissions of GHGs jointly and with an aggregate
approach, but met objection from one country. A group of
countries proposed that commitments for Annex I Parties be
spelled out within the text instead of appearing in an
NON-GROUP ON INSTITUTIONS AND MECHANISMS
Delegates in the non-group on institutions and mechanisms
agreed that there was no need to recapitulate elements from
the FCCC in the preamble. On the article listing
definitions, delegates agreed to delete text on the role of
the Meeting of the Parties. A regional group introduced a
new draft article based on the IPCC�s scientific findings.
Non-group Chair Takao Shibata (Japan) invited a number of
delegations to consult on a substantive proposal to insert
references to the FCCC objectives in the negotiating text.
There was some resistance to a follow-up suggestion that
the negotiating text also refer to FCCC principles. Of the
two proposals contained in the negotiating text on the
senior body to oversee the Protocol, the alternative which
describes the Conference of the Parties as the supreme body
of the Protocol attracted most support. The Chair offered
to incorporate a number of points raised by one delegation
into a fresh version of the preferred text. There was
general support for institutional economy through which the
existing institutions serve the purposes of the Protocol,
and negotiators will endeavor to detail any new COP
functions arising from new responsibilities.
NON-GROUP ON ARTICLE 4.1
The non-group on advancing existing commitments in Article
4.1 chaired by Evans King (Trinidad and Tobago) met in the
morning and discussed the chapeau and second paragraph of
the AGBM Chair's draft. There was some support for adding a
reference to common but differentiated responsibilities.
Delegates could not agree on whether to advance commitments
"in accordance with" Convention Articles 4.3, 4.5 and 4.7
as favored by developing countries or "taking into account"
those articles as proposed by developed countries.
Delegates disagreed about a portion of a consensus text
offered by the non-group Chair in which parties would work
toward sustainable development. A delegation suggested
replacing the chapeau with Convention and Berlin Mandate
On three sub-paragraphs describing national inventories and
related methodologies and cooperation, delegates debated
whether the text constituted a new commitment for
developing countries or was a clarification of existing
common but differentiated commitments. A regional group
suggested combining sub-paragraphs on inventories or
methodologies. Another group suggested replacement text for
all three. A delegation proposed deleting all references to
the Convention and to financial resources. A small group
was convened in the evening to try to address the various
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ADVICE
Dr. Robert Watson introduced a paper containing 16
decisions of the IPCC taken at its September meeting. He
noted that the Third Assessment Report (TAR) would cover a
range of scientific, technical, economic and social issues.
It will consist of reports of IPCC Working Groups I
(scientific aspects), II (vulnerability of systems) and III
(mitigation), and will focus heavily on regional aspects.
The three Working Group reports, which will be approved by
late 2000 or early 2001, will be integrated into a policy
relevant Synthesis Report, which will be completed by the
second quarter of 2001.
The Synthesis Report will be written in a non-technical
style suitable for policymakers and will address a broad
range of key policy relevant questions. The IPCC Chair and
the Working Group Co-Chairs will develop these questions in
consultation with the President of the COP and chairs of
other FCCC bodies. The questions will be circulated to
governments for comment, and the IPCC will approve them at
its Fourteenth Session.
The IPCC also took decisions on enhancing participation of
experts from developing countries and countries with
economies in transition, as well as business and
development organizations. Other decisions related to:
scope of the working groups and nominations of lead
authors; peer-review process for the Working Group Reports
and the TAR; the editorial review process; utilization of
non-English language literature; the structure of the IPCC
Bureau; publication and translation procedures; and the
financial task team.
SBSTA delegates asked a number of questions regarding IPCC
decisions, such as: whether the IPCC would consider
developing an overall environmental objective for the FCCC
processes; whether existing long-term observation and
satellite systems were adequate; and whether the IPCC
deadlines for comments were flexible. Other questions
raised were: whether the "business as usual" scenario
changes by applying IPCC recommendations; what impact would
developing countries' actions have in changing it; and
whether reducing emissions sooner rather than later would
"buy" greater climatic resilience and certainty.
On the TAR, delegates asked: whether uncertainties in
projections and conclusions would be addressed; whether
research methodologies and techniques would be adequately
spelled out; and whether several options and scenarios
would be included to allow the reader to draw her own
conclusions. Delegates also asked whether: the TAR would
include adaptation options and impacts, particularly for
developing countries; rely heavily on numerical models or
use historical models as well; whether the synthesis report
would address policy questions made by SBSTA; would the
link, if any, between "El Ni�o" and global warming be
addressed; and how would IPCC and SBSTA coordinate their
schedules to ensure that TAR was sufficiently informed by
IN THE CORRIDORS
Reactions to the US positions were the order of the day in
the corridors. Some "disappointed" EU delegates agreed with
many of the facts underlying the US position, but said
these facts were not properly reflected in the proposed
targets. Recalling that the IPCC science calls for early
action and indicates the need for significant reductions
below 1990 levels, many said the US target, which is even
lower than Japan's "inadequate" target, is a "long way"
from this and intensive dialogue with all Parties was
Some developing countries delegates were not surprised by
the US position and said the G-77/China proposal was
intended to counter-balance it. One developing country
observer noted that the US, in promoting its containment
policies, has played several unilateral cards worldwide as
of late and speculated that inflexibility in this forum
could lead to failure. Another said that no protocol is
better than a protocol with new developing country
Environmental NGOs have begun preparing their strategic
response, determined to �salvage� the AGBM process and
ensure that a reported �celebration� by the business lobby
on Wednesday evening was premature. Given the high-level
nature of the US announcement, NGOs will focus their
efforts on attempts to convince other Heads of State, such
as British Prime Minister Blair and Germany�s Chancellor
Kohl to engage the White House. Japan will also face
intense lobbying, as some NGOs have suggested that the host
government for COP-3 had paved the way for the US
announcement with its own �extremist� position.
The AGBM process is set to continue along parallel
negotiating tracks, with �megaphone diplomacy� punctuating
the formal talks in Bonn and beyond. One NGO speaker
underlined his colleagues� determination to pursue the
negotiators to the bitter end in December, with the thought
that �it�s not over �til the fat lady sings.�
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
OBSERVER BRIEFING: The observer briefing will be held at
QELROs-2 NON-GROUP: This non-group will meet at 10:00 am.
SBSTA: SBSTA will meet at 10:00 am.
P&Ms NON-GROUP: The non-group on policies and measures will
meet at 3:00 pm.
QELROs-1: This non-group will meet at 3:00 pm.