Policy update from the INC/FCCC
Michael Zammit Cutajar Executive Secretary, Interim Secretariat, UNFCCC
1 The Conference
The national focus of the Conference corresponds to that of the FCCC. The Convention
requires national action towards a global objective. It leaves a great degree of
flexibility to each Party to decide what that action should be in its particular national
circumstances. Annex I Parties have a common aim (to return emissions to 1990 levels by
2000) but are free to achieve it in different ways. The only universal requirement for all
Parties is the GHG inventory. This openness of the framework reflects not only scientific
uncertainty but also defence of the political and economic interests at stake.
Discussions like this can help to overcome this defensiveness by showing the way to
"no regrets". Exchange of ideas among experts and of practical experiences among
practitioners can advance policy convergence among the Convention Parties. For this to
happen, however, the results of such discussions must be useable by negotiators and not
too far ahead of where they are at.
2 The Convention negotiations - where are they at?
2.1 Three processes (FCCC, IPCC, GEF)
- FCCC: Entry into force 21.03.94; 70 + Parties; COP 1, Berlin, March/April 1995;
INC continues its work, under UNGA mandate, to prepare decisions for COP 1; INC IX
(February 1994) started to focus on decisions needed before COP deadline; INC X (August
1994) and INC XI (February 1995) are still to come.
- IPCC: on the way to its 1995 Second Assessment, will prepare Special Report 1994
in time for COP 1 = background to political decisions on adequacy of present Annex I
commitments and future development of FCCC. (Policymakers will ask: What is new in the
scientific assessment since 1990/1992?)
- GEF: restructured and replenished; $2bn for 1994-97, perhaps half for climate;
new Council to get going July 1994. Need to mesh GEF into financial mechanism of FCCC;
first step to generate policy guidance from COP 1, eg. on criteria and priorities - this
is on agenda of INC; important that Convention bodies and GEF Council be on same policy
wavelength. GEF is operating on an interim basis - maintenance of interim arrangements
also on INC/COP 1 agenda.
2.2 Two pillars
(a) Financial mechanism
- Finance and technology for national action in developing countries = one of the pillars
of the Convention. Foundations of this pillar = national priorities of developing
countries. So far, only priority agreed in INC is for funding of "enabling"
activities (eg. planning, -capacity- building). Developing country Parties are committed
to submit national communications within three years of EIF for them; these will become
priority as deadlines near (1997-98). Mitigation projects are still down the priority
- Dilemma: for most developing countries, climate change is low or no priority, a
developed country problem to be solved by them. There is no domestic political
constituency for climate change mitigation, as in Denmark. How to promote and finance
action without distorting national priorities? First, by assessing potential negative
impacts of climate change on national development objectives (eg. agriculture, water
supply, coastal zone management). Second, by demonstrating positive linkages between
"no regrets" climate change mitigations policies and other development policy
objectives (eg. reduction of fuel import bills, improvement of urban air quality). In
other words, by integrating national climate change programmes in a comprehensive approach
to national sustainable development.
- Focus so far on finance, esp. GEF. Action on technology transfer undefined. NB. Role of
SBSTA: identify technologies and advise on development and transfer.
(b) Policy review process
- Communication and review of information = second pillar. This is founded on commitments
to act. Development of new agreements under FCCC (amendments, protocols) will evolve from
review of what is being achieved under old ones.
- First to go are Annex I Parties (developed + transition) - six months after EIF. (NB.
21.09 deadline for many.)
- INC IX signed off on inventory methodologies and reporting formats for Annex I first
round. INC X will decide on review process (individual communications and synthesis -
issues of depth and timing).
- INC XI (acting as proxy for subsidiary bodies) will undertake (a) review of Annex I
communications and (b) review of adequacy of Annex I commitments, on basis of (a) and IPCC
- Review of adequacy is likely to lead to agreement at COP 1 that further commitments on
emissions limitation are needed for post-2000. COP would then need to launch new
negotiating process, under its auspices.
- Debate on adequacy and possible development of commitments is intense. Views are being
put forward as to whether or not such development is needed at all; when it should take
place; what it should be (in legal form - amendments, protocols; and in substantive
content: eg. emission targets, energy efficiency standards, taxes and other economic
instruments); who should take on additional commitments (Annex I Parties only? - NB.
coordination, burden sharing, joint implementation; or, as suggested by some Annex I
Parties, other Parties as well?)
- Related to this, criteria for joint implementation are also on INC/COP agenda; an
experimental pilot phase is likely next step.
(c) Convention institutions
The Convention provides for institutions to be built as buttresses for these two
pillars: SBSTA, SBI and the Convention secretariat. Latter will take over from present
interim secretariat from 01.01.96. With reference to earlier remarks by Minister Auken and
Mr. Usher, Convention secretariat should be able to draw upon coordinated support from
United Nations programmes, including DPCSD, UNDP and UNEP. Whether UNEP should administer
Convention secretariat, as suggested in statement by Mr. Usher, is for COP 1 to consider.
3 Possible inputs from Conference
This conference can offer pragmatic and useable advice to Convention negotiators on:
- "no regrets" energy options for developed and developing countries - this will
help overcome resistance to change and move climate change up the priority ladder;
- applying the concepts of cost-effectiveness and incremental costs to operations under
the FCCC - this will help overcome barriers between theory and practice.
4 Further inputs to Conference
Information on two activities of the interim secretariat in support of national action
in developing and transition countries:
- CLIMEX (with UNEP, financed UNEP and bilateral incl. Denmark)
- Training programme (with UNITAR, financed UNDP/GEF)
Both projects are about to move forward at end of pilot phase; partners in both are
present, as is responsible colleague Janos Pasztor. Information on both may be useful to
conference participants and could be presented if agenda permits.
Looking ahead, we are working with UNDP and other partners to pull these and other
activities together under an "umbrella project" to support the participation of
developing and transition countries in the Convention. Your discussions on approaches to
national mitigation strategies will help us to work this out.
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