Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 12 No. 96
November 13 1998
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FOURTH UNFCCC CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
12 NOVEMBER 1998
Delegates heard statements from ministers and other heads of
delegation in a high level segment. High level informal
consultations were held throughout the day.
The Ministers presented overviews of domestic actions on
climate change and called for enhanced progress at the COP to
ensure ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. They expressed their
sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Mitch. FRANCE announced
the cancellation of Honduras and Nicaraguas debt.
The US, THAILAND, PERU and TUVALU announced their signature
of the Kyoto Protocol. TRINIDAD and TOBAGO, on behalf of CARICOM
and HAITI, said BAHAMAS will sign the Protocol this week.
MICRONESIA, ITALY, CHILE, LITHUANIA, CYPRUS and the SOLOMON
ISLANDS stated that they were in the process of ratifying the
Protocol. JAPAN and SLOVENIA called for the early signing and
ratification of the Protocol. KAZAKHSTAN expressed willingness
to undertake obligations and enter into Annex B of the Kyoto
Protocol through Annex I of the FCCC.
A number of countries, including the EU, GAMBIA, JAPAN,
SWEDEN, SYRIA, CROATIA, NEW ZEALAND, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, EGYPT,
NEPAL SPAIN, GHANA and the G-77/CHINA, stressed that: active
leadership to prevent global warming must come from developed
country Parties; domestic action must provide the main means for
meeting commitments to combat climate change; and noted that
flexibility mechanisms were supplemental and their use must be
subject to strict rules of accountability and compliance. PERU
said the inaction of developed countries sends dangerous signals
to non-Annex I countries. NORWAY said developed countries must
accept even more ambitious targets in the future. Recognizing
the vulnerability of small island states, NEW ZEALAND called for
support to AOSIS.
FRANCE noted that developing country emissions are increasing
and called for timely provision of financial support and
technology transfer. With ECUADOR, FINLAND, the CARICOM states,
the GAMBIA, VENEZUELA, CHINA, ECUADOR, BENIN, TANZANIA and
UGANDA, he highlighted the need for additional financial
support, sustained transfer of information and technology,
capacity building and institutional strengthening. SUDAN
stressed technology transfer irrespective of political relations
or racial considerations. NORWAY recognized the role of industry
in technology transfer. The NETHERLANDS highlighted the need for
increased financial flows to the most vulnerable countries.
The UK, with GHANA, said scientific uncertainty should not be
used as an excuse for inaction. DENMARK called for a Buenos
Aires deal that calls upon developed countries to commit
themselves to provide additional funds to developing countries
and address their obligations under the FCCC and the Protocol.
In return, developing countries must agree to work out the
necessary national strategies to allow for a constructive review
process. AOSIS called for a clear and ambitious timetable to
elaborate the Protocol. The G-77/CHINA said their participation
in mitigating climate change depends on the effective
implementation of developed country Party commitments in the
field of technology transfer and financial resources. JAPAN and
the EU stressed the need to maintain the momentum of Kyoto, and
with FINLAND, called for the creation of a clear and efficient
work plan giving priority to developing country concerns. LATVIA
supported the EU proposal for a Buenos Aires work plan.
NEW ZEALAND, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the US supported the
Argentine voluntary commitment. With the US and HUNGARY,
AUSTRALIA called for meaningful participation and future
voluntary commitments appropriate to individual circumstances
and with QATAR, NORWAY, PERU and SENEGAL stressed the principle
of common but differentiated responsibilities.
AOSIS noted the inadequacy of the commitments and efforts to
implement them under the Protocol and FCCC. He said the
Argentine voluntary commitment must not be allowed to detract
from the commitments of Parties in the Protocol. CUBA, QATAR and
SAUDI ARABIA opposed any attempt to compel developing countries
to take on voluntary commitments.
KOREA recognized that voluntary commitments was a sensitive
issue, but there would be a need for global participation over
time. BOLIVIA stressed that substantive participation of non-
Annex I Parties should be based on the principle of sovereignty
and right to self-determination and that their emissions limits
cannot constitute a precedent nor commit others to emissions
limitation targets. MALAYSIA expressed regret over the continued
discussion on voluntary commitments. ETHIOPIA said pressure for
voluntary commitments would undermine the FCCC process.
GHANA said the challenges of climate change mitigation and
adaptation present an additional burden to developing countries
and with the CARICOM states, ICELAND, AUSTRALIA, the US, SAUDI
ARABIA, NEW ZEALAND and the G-77/CHINA called for elaboration of
mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. The CENTRAL AMERICAN STATES
stressed the importance of sinks and supported the G-77/China
proposal to prioritize the CDM and operationalize it by 1
January 2000. With CHILE, he proposed an interim phase of the
CDM. IRELAND supported the EU call for clear qualitative and
quantitative ceilings on the use of the flexibility mechanisms.
The COOK ISLANDS, MARSHALL ISLANDS, NAURU, NIUE, TUVALU, ALGERIA
and the CARICOM States expressed concern that the flexibility
mechanisms are a way of avoiding domestic responsibility.
THAILAND said the CDM should not be the sole means of technology
SEYCHELLES expressed concern that vulnerable nations that are
insignificant on the global stage may be excluded from
programmes such as those under the flexibility mechanisms.
THAILAND supported north-south and south-south partnerships
based on equity and the principle of common but differentiated
responsibility. SPAIN called for progress on developing a
process of technology transfer and efforts to address the issue
of public awareness and education. FRANCE called for a common
approach to collective measures and said mechanisms should be
based on a reliable system of compliance that includes
sanctions. CROATIA said the flexibility mechanisms must be
equitable, i.e. open, transparent, verifiable and non-
discriminatory. EGYPT emphasized the equal treatment of the
three flexibility mechanisms and suggested that part of the
proceeds from these mechanisms be mobilized to finance the
transfer of adaptation technology for developing countries.
BRAZIL underscored the CDM as a means of inducing new and mostly
private investment, and suggested that it be project based and
include all countries. CANADA described the CDM as a win-win-
win mechanism, i.e. win for the environment, win for
sustainable development and win for the developed countries, as
they would be able to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets. VENEZUELA
said CDM projects must ensure net contribution to sustainable
development in the host country; avoid hidden costs; and use
project-based rather than sectoral or national baselines to
avoid future imposition of targets.
ARGENTINA said emissions trading was an innovative solution
to market failure. POLAND called for final decisions on the
mechanisms at COP-5 and proposed a pilot phase for emissions
trading. KOREA opposed any limits on CDM. MEXICO stressed open
criteria and a progressive approach to CDM that could foster
immediate and simple actions without artificial limits, not
contained in the Protocol. BOTSWANA emphasized the role of the
CDM in assisting developing countries and urged progress on
elaborating this mechanism. MOROCCO said the imbalance of
projects under the AIJ pilot phase was inequitable and ZIMBABWE
recommended its extension. MALAYSIA called for the incorporation
of technology transfer and the financial mechanism into the
GREECE supported agreement on clear principles, modalities,
rules and guidelines for the flexibility mechanisms including
ceilings on their use. SOUTH AFRICA supported development of a
clear programme of work, establishment of an intersessional
working group and a timeframe to ensure the Kyoto targets are
met. UKRAINE stressed establishment of a work programme for
implementation of Kyoto obligations by Annex I Parties. He said
revival in transition economies will lead to inevitable
increases in GHG emissions, but these countries will achieve
internal reductions. He opposed the revision of decisions
taken at Kyoto.
Several Parties including DENMARK, VENEZUELA, POLAND,
AUSTRALIA, FRANCE, the EU and the US called for the
establishment of a coherent, effective and strong compliance
system. The G-77/CHINA called for a decision on compliance at
COP-4. GERMANY suggested a ceiling for mechanisms and, with
FRANCE, supported the inclusion of sanctions in the compliance
RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed attempts to qualify its emission
reductions as hot air, since they compensate for emissions
increases of other countries, and have been paid for by a
decline in living standards. BRAZIL, with KENYA, called for
further discussions on the adverse impacts of climate change.
Supported by MEXICO, BHUTAN and ICELAND, COLOMBIA called
attention to sinks under the Protocol and underscored the
elaboration of methodologies. ICELAND underscored the
proportional impact of single projects on small economies.
With BENIN and ZIMBABWE, CHINA cautioned against the COP
losing focus on the Convention. He opposed the argument that a
global problem demands a global response and rejected emission
reduction or limitation conditions. SWEDEN urged delegates to
work to increase awareness, understanding and support for change
and, with FINLAND, applauded the role of NGOs in the
environmental agenda. VENEZUELA cautioned against allowing
distractions from the main issues by discussing items not on the
COP-4 agenda. ECUADOR supported closer coordination with other
UN Conventions, particularly the CBD. NEPAL stressed regional
environmental cooperation and opposed undue limits on their
KENYA called for GEF support in facilitating CDM and
implementing adaptation measures. The GAMBIA called for
membership of the Multilateral Consultative Committee and
participation in the CDM on an equitable geographical basis.
SENEGAL said the debt burden was a serious hindrance to
sustainable development and the marginalization of Africa made
equity a particular concern. INDIA stressed the distinction
between luxury and survival emissions. ZAMBIA said climate
change programmes should be linked to poverty eradication.
Recognizing that the lack of multilateral financing constitutes
a major obstacle to implementing the Convention and noting the
slow and complex process to access GEF funds, DJIBOUTI supported
the establishment of an independent financial mechanism to
finance the CDM for poor countries.
BURUNDI underscored the need for improved access to
technological information and knowledge and capacity building,
especially for African delegates participating in the climate
change process. CÔTE D'IVOIRE stated that the CDM should not be
a substitute for official development assistance or support from
the GEF. SWITZERLAND called for coordination between various
international environmental agreements, particularly the
Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. PARAGUAY highlighted its interest
in the potential of the flexibility mechanisms.
As of 9:00 pm, approximately 20 delegates were scheduled to
address the Plenary.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Some delegates noted the US proposal to include voluntary
commitments in the draft text on flexibility mechanisms on
Tuesday changed the tone of debate, resulted in pointed attacks
from the G-77/China and hindered the spirit of compromise. Other
delegates suggested that current backroom discussions were
slowly making progress and that the termflexibility mechanisms
was being replaced by "Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms." As one
delegate asked, flexible for whom? Some observers said they
expected other countries to state they would assume voluntary
commitments on the final day of the COP.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
COP Plenary: COP Plenary is expected begin at 3:00 pm.