Presented by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE THIRD CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE
UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
8 DECEMBER 1997
Delegates to the Third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) to
the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) met in
a high-level segment attended by ministers and other heads
of delegation. The Committee of the Whole (COW) met in the
afternoon to continue discussions on the negotiating text.
Ryutaro Hashimoto, Prime Minister of Japan, urged developed
countries to agree on meaningful, realistic and equitable
emissions reduction targets that are legally binding. He
called on all Parties, including developing countries, to
voluntarily enhance their measures. He disagreed with the
idea that strict rules adversely affect the economy, and
noted they could trigger innovation, promote capital
investment and give rise to new industry.
José María Figueres Olsen, President of Costa Rica, said
the Kyoto agreement must include significant cuts in
emissions by the industrialized countries, a financial
mechanism bridging developed and developing countries, and
active voluntary participation by the developing nations.
He noted that Costa Rica has developed a marketable
instrument that will value emission reductions. He also
called on developing countries to do their part.
Kinza Clodumar, President of Nauru, called the willful
destruction of small island states with foreknowledge an
"unspeakable crime against humanity." He said solving the
problem requires more than stabilization of GHGs. He noted
US President Clinton's pledge for significant future
reductions and called for an announcement on this from Vice
Albert Gore Jr., US Vice President, said realistic binding
emissions limits would create new markets for technologies
to ameliorate the problem. He reiterated the US commitment
to reduce emissions by 30% of projected levels by 2010 and
key elements of the US proposal. He announced increased US
flexibility for working towards a commitment with realistic
targets and timetables, market mechanisms, and
participation of key developing countries.
Maurice Strong, Under-Secretary General and Executive
Coordinator for UN Reform, delivered a statement for UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said many would be
disappointed that the Kyoto agreement would be a modest
step. But the very fact that legally binding targets and
timetables were in prospect showed how far the community of
nations had come in taking responsibility.
COP President Hiroshi Ohki (Japan) reported substantial
progress at the intensive discussions in Kyoto and
expressed confidence about a breakthrough for final
agreement. He called on ministers to bring political will
to the objective of getting developed countries to take the
FCCC Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar commented
on the remarkable nature of the Conference given the media
interest and the scale of the UN Internet broadcast, which
have focused world attention on Kyoto. He said the zen
practice of breaking through mental boundaries provided a
good theme for the days ahead when negotiators would have
to break through the tendency to consider the short-term
costs while neglecting the long -term economic
For the G-77/CHINA, Bakari Mbonde (Tanzania) said decisive
action would be needed to strengthen developed country
obligations. He underlined the Berlin Mandate to achieve
QELROs and advance implementation of commitments under
Article 4.1 without new commitments for developing country
parties. Developing countries had undertaken their own
measures and the success of these was predicated on Annex I
country fulfillment of their commitments including transfer
of technology. He rejected offshore extra-territorial
implementation of targets and welcomed the clean
development fund initiative.
The EU rejected differentiation that makes targets weaker.
Instead, it must guarantee comparable commitments for major
economies at least. Flexibility resulting in
environmentally detrimental loopholes is unacceptable. He
supported: the "three plus three" gas proposal; trading
only with strong targets and domestic action, monitoring,
sanctions and market safeguards; and JI with rules and
safeguards. He said mandatory internationally coordinated
P&Ms are indispensable. Suggestions that developing
countries should take up new commitments are not helpful to
negotiations and are contrary to the Berlin Mandate.
Mobilizing new and additional resources through the
financial mechanism could foster voluntary limitation of
developing country GHG emissions.
Many speakers focused on elements necessary for a Kyoto
agreement. SAMOA, for AOSIS and supported by NIUE, stated
that a Kyoto agreement must contain strong, short- and
medium-term targets for Annex I Parties and a mechanism for
early review of their adequacy. NORWAY said developed
countries must agree on an overall reduction target for the
emission of all GHGs of 10 to 15% by 2010. A flat rate
approach fails in fairness and effectiveness, and renders
an ambitious agreement impossible. SOUTH AFRICA supported
the EU-proposed targets.
Many speakers, such as IRAN, INDIA, BANGLADESH, VENEZUELA,
KOREA, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, MALDIVES, CHINA, PARAGUAY,
SEYCHELLES and BARBADOS on behalf of Caribbean Community,
opposed any new commitments for developing countries since
developed nations had not met their existing commitments.
Many described national actions already underway. CHINA
said it could not undertake reduction commitments because
its main priority is development. MEXICO is taking on
responsibilities and will continue to do so regardless of
the outcome in Kyoto.
JAPAN sought voluntary commitments for more advanced
developing countries and a process to review commitments by
all Parties. ARGENTINA called for binding commitments for
Annex I Parties and differentiated targets. RUSSIA declared
its intention to turn quantitative commitments into
practice jointly with all other countries whose interests
are restrained by the concept of partial differentiation.
AUSTRALIA said the agreement must include sources, sinks
and criteria for differentiation. CANADA proposed
reductions of 3% for the period 2008 - 2012 and 5% by 2013
- 2017. She noted that developing countries' emissions are
growing and supported the sequencing of obligations of
developing countries. NEW ZEALAND stated that a target for
Annex I Parties of 5% below 1990 levels is achievable
within a decade and that many reduction measures are not
available to less heavily industrialized countries.
Some delegations, such as INDIA, SYRIA, MOLDOVA, BOLIVIA,
PAPUA NEW GUINEA, HONDURAS, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN and BOTSWANA
stressed that developing countries' capacities have to be
enhanced through the transfer of technology and financial
resources. The UK noted the possible economic benefits of
measures such as improved transport, housing, energy
efficiency and environmental technology. AUSTRALIA
highlighted the need to develop and market energy-efficient
technologies. MOZAMBIQUE said pollution permit trading
could help technology transfer.
Other speakers offered differing views on flexibility
mechanisms. SWITZERLAND and NORWAY supported joint
implementation (JI) once modalities are agreed, but
developed countries should not circumvent reduction
objectives. RUSSIA said JI and emissions trading could
foster partnership between developed and developing
nations. CANADA said flexibility is needed to adjust to
changes required for implementation and cost-effective
VENEZUELA, CHINA and INDONESIA objected to emissions
trading. FRANCE said flexibility alternatives should not be
used until quantifiable reductions have been achieved.
ARGENTINA, UZBEKISTAN and LITHUANIA supported JI as useful
to access environmentally sound technologies. DENMARK said
trading offers no end of possibilities for fraud and "hot
air" trading should not be allowed. BRAZIL called for
further consideration of emission trading permits between
Ministers highlighted a number of other issues. AOSIS,
BRAZIL, NIGERIA and DENMARK supported a clean development
fund, funded by developed countries in proportion to their
degree of non-compliance with targets. ARGENTINA sought
common definitions of sinks, including restoring degraded
soils. HUNGARY recalled its agreement to join Annex I and
noted its changes toward sustainable development.
VENEZUELA, QATAR, KUWAIT, NIGERIA and SAUDI ARABIA called
for a mechanism to compensate fossil fuel exporting
countries for the economic losses resulting from the full
implementation. SPAIN, PORTUGAL, GERMANY, GREECE and
DENMARK noted their plans to cut emissions within the EU's
overall plan. ICELAND said that renewable energy would have
to play an increasing role.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Delegates discussed the protocol draft contained in the COW
Chair's non-paper of 7 December. RUSSIA, supported by
NORWAY, UKRAINE, AUSTRALIA and ICELAND, proposed text
setting a collective Annex I net aggregate CO2 equivalent
emissions objective, with annexes for individual Parties'
objectives. The US expressed interest. Chair Estrada said
he would not discuss proposals without numbers. The G-
77/CHINA said the proposal delayed the discussion of
numbers. TRINIDAD and TOBAGO, with TUVALU, said the annexes
would be problematic. The UK did not support the proposal
Several delegations suggested changes to the draft article
on sinks. The US proposed counting emissions on a net basis
but discounting 75% of emissions from sinks in the first
commitment period. Chair Estrada said sources and sinks
should not be selected to disguise what is being decided.
He asked delegates to be sincere for 48 hours.
Chair Estrada introduced a discussion on gas coverage.
Recalling his "three plus three" proposal, he suggested a
different base year for the second basket. The US,
supported by NEW ZEALAND, proposed 1995. RUSSIA suggested
dealing with the six gases basket in the second commitment
period. ICELAND, supported by NORWAY and the EU, objected
to the US proposal because some countries had already made
efforts to reduce their emission of gases in the second
basket. NORWAY asked whether those Parties with sufficient
1990 data on the gases in the proposed second basket could
proceed with a full basket approach. INDIA said the G-
77/CHINA wished to revisit the issue after announcements on
CANADA, suppported by NEW ZEALAND, RUSSIA and the US, asked
that its emissions trading text be substituted for Article
6, noting its guidelines and a section assigning
responsibility to Parties for all transactions, including
those by intermediaries. The G-77/CHINA and URUGUAY
requested deletion of the article, but said the text could
remain under consideration. He said the core issue is the
numbers. Chair Estrada said he failed to see how the
proposal reduces emissions. TOGO, supported by MALAYSIA,
proposed adjourning until numbers were proposed. NEW
ZEALAND said resolving trading would allow progress on
commitments. CHINA replied that until QELROs are resolved,
the protocol is meaningless.
The US said its number is a package, depending on what
gases are included, how sinks count, and what kinds of
flexibility are available. If there is no trading, the
number changes. He proposed an additional paragraph
extracted from Article 7 (Joint Implementation) permitting
projects between Annex 1 parties. The EU said the scope of
flexibility, including emissions trading, was contingent
upon QELROs numbers. COLOMBIA said the ability to display
flexibility had just about run out among non-Annex I
countries. SAMOA suggested that the provision of a range of
numbers would assist the debate on emissions trading.
UKRAINE defended retaining Articles 6, 7 and 8 because they
define the mechanisms for implementation. RUSSIA supported
a proposal from the Chair to close discussion, and
suggested a protocol between the EU and G-77/CHINA. UGANDA
said there would be no "free" trading of emissions. Chair
Estrada announced his intention to produce a paper with a
proposed final approach, with QELROs numbers and positions.
The deadline for Parties to deliver their own numbers would
be 3:00 pm Tuesday.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Pressure is building on Annex I countries to deliver their
target numbers for QELROs as negotiations go to the wire.
Tensions emerged at a meeting of the newly formed extended
Bureau Monday - a meeting of delegates and ministers
described by one participant as a "poker game" where only
half the players are in on the final deal. Developing
country Parties had reportedly lost patience with
industrialized countries determined to bring home a final
package without consulting their "significant others" from
the G-77/CHINA, now represented on the extended Bureau.
This despite the expectation that after this complex
endgame a number of key G-77 players are expected to
participate meaningfully, having calculated their potential
gains from incentives offered. So far, though, the only
number coming out of the negotiations is Chair Estrada's 3
o'clock QELROs deadline.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
COP: COP Plenary will meet at 10:00 am.
COW: COW Plenary will meet at 3:00 pm.