United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
During the 1980s, scientists started becoming more concerned about the threats associated with anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and the increased severity of the greenhouse gas effect. In 1988, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) therefore established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 1990, the IPCC completed its First Assessment Report which concluded that human activities were indeed responsible for climate change and because the findings were released in the same year that hosted the Second World Climate Conference, climate change became an international issue of interest.
During its 45th Conference held on 11 December 1990, the United Nations set up the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change (INC/FCCC) to coordinate the efforts between governments in addressing the problems associated with climate change. The INC organized 5 meetings between February 1991 and May 1992, which were represented by more than 150 nations. The topics that were discussed included the need for a commitment, the setting of measurable objectives and timeline for greenhouse gas reduction, establishing financial mechanisms, proposing technology transfer, and defining different levels of responsibilities to meet the climate change challenge. However, in order to meet its objectives, the INC would require a binding agreement between all involved parties. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was therefore “born” in May 1992 and formally entered into force on 21 March 1994 with the backing of over 50 nations.
The reason why the issue of climate change is so important is because of the realization of the widespread global impacts that are associated with it, while also recognizing that the types and severity of impacts would be varied by region. Some examples of expected impacts are changes to wind and weather patterns and increased severity of natural disasters; drought, flash flooding and impacts on human health and hygiene, including the spreading of infectious diseases; and, the drying up of water resources and decreased agricultural yields due to increased heat. These are not only problems that would affect the environment but would gravely impact the service and manufacturing industries as well. For example, it would have an impact on the agricultural, livestock, fishing, coastal farming, and tourism industries. Thailand recognizes the significance of climate change and global warming and therefore committed to being a party to the UNFCCC on 28 December 1994. Thailand also ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 28 August 2002.
A Brief History Of The UNFCCC…
CLIMATE CHANGE is considered one of the most serious threats to sustainable development, with adverse impacts expected on human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources, physical infrastructure and the environment. Global climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising concentrations of anthropogenically produced greenhouse gases in the Earths 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 scientific findings indicate that precautionary and prompt action is necessary.
In December 1997, delegates met at COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan, and agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a market economy (EITs) to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I Parties, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 199o levels between 2008 and 2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Protocol also establishes three flexible mechanisms to assist Annex I Parties in meeting their national targets cost-effectively: an emissions trading system; joint implementation (JI) of emission reduction projects between Annex I Parties; and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows for projects to be implemented in non-Annex I Parties. Following COP-3, Parties initiated negotiations on most of the rules and operational details determining how countries will reduce emissions, and measure and assess emissions reductions. To date, 132 Parties have ratified the Protocol, including 37 Annex I Parties, representing 61.6% of 1990 Annex I greenhouse gas emissions, meeting the requirements for entry into force of the Protocol, which will take place on 16 February 2005. During COP-10, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Oman, Indonesia, Lichtenstein and Ukraine also announced their recent or imminent ratifications. Malaysia became a signatory to the Protocol in March 1999 and rectified it in September 2002.
The UNFCCC objectives are “to achieve a stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”
The UNFCC objectives are based on the following fundamental principles:
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- providing financial and technological support for sustainable development
- exchanging of information related to climate change
- promoting the adaptation to climate change
- providing assistance to developing countries by:
- promoting the precautionary principle
- promoting the concept of Common but Differentiated Responsibility, with industrialized countries leading the way
- Annex I countries are industrialized nations, also known as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Eastern and Central Europe and Russia, also known as Economies in Transition (EIT)
- Non-Annex I countries include all developing nations
- Annex II countries are those OECD countries that are more strictly bound than EITs
The UNFCCC requires all countries to report on their greenhouse gas emissions and activities related to climate change. This is considered of utmost importance as these reports are used in meetings to evaluate the performances of signatory nations. The responsibilities under the UNFCCC are divided as follows:
Annex I countries have agreed to establish national policies and undertake measures to reduce climate change and limit anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by establishing appropriate controls and providing “sinks” and “reservoirs” for these gases. They have committed to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, that are not governed by the Montreal Protocol, to 1990 levels by the turn of the century and will either accomplish this on their own or under a joint effort
In addition, Annex I countries are required to prepare yearly greenhouse gas emissions inventories and submit to the UNFCCC Secretariat by the 15th April of each year.
These inventories are required to be prepared according to IPCC guidelines. Annex I countries are also required to submit National Communication reports that outline strategies, policies and objectives for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in their respective countries, the first of which was to be submitted 6 months after the Convention entered into force, the second by 15th April 1997 and the third by 30th November 2001. The reports would then need to be submitted every 3 years.
These country reports are reviewed in depth by 4-5 technical experts who have been nominated by the Parties to the Convention. In order to ensure that the information received is accurate and complete, the reviews are both desk- and field-based.
Parties to the Convention must establish national and regional policies for responding to human-induced climate change, and provide “reservoirs” for the removal of all greenhouse gases that are not governed by the Montreal Protocol. They must also propose measures for adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as promote and cooperate in the development, use and transfer of technology and mechanisms for the control, reduction or prevention of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors including energy, transport, industrial, agricultural, forestry and waste management. They are also required to cooperate in conducting scientific, technical, technological, social and economic research and to develop appropriate communication channels in order to promote the understanding and awareness of climate change and reduce the uncertainties that exist with regards to its causes, impacts, magnitude and frequency and the associated social and economic impacts of the various response mechanisms.
The Convention’s international implementation activities can be divided as:
The provision of funding as guided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Since 1991, the GEF has provided approximately US$1.3 billion in climate change related funding. An additional US$6.9 billion has been received from other sources, leading to a total of US$ 8.2 billion. In addition, the Marrakesh Accords have also allocated two separate funds to be managed by the GEF.
- A special climate change fund– to finance projects relating to capacity building, adaptation and technology transfer, and to reduce the impacts of climate change
- A least developed countries fund– to provide special assistance to least developed countries
The relationship between the different organizations under the Convention is illustrated below.
Delegates celebrated adoption of the Protocol in 1997.The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.
The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.
The Kyoto mechanisms
Under the Treaty, countries must meet their targets primarily through national measures. However, the Kyoto Protocol offers them an additional means of meeting their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms.
The Kyoto mechanisms are:
- Emissions trading – known as “the carbon market”
- Clean development mechanism (CDM)
- Joint implementation (JI).
The mechanisms help stimulate green investment and help Parties meet their emission targets in a cost-effective way.
Monitoring emission targets
Under the Protocol, countries’actual emissions have to be monitored and precise records have to be kept of the trades carried out.
Registry systems track and record transactions by Parties under the mechanisms. The UN Climate Change Secretariat, based in Bonn, Germany, keeps an international transaction log to verify that transactions are consistent with the rules of the Protocol.
A compliance system ensures that Parties are meeting their commitments and helps them to meet their commitments if they have problems doing so.
Parties & Observers
The Convention divides countries into three main groups according to differing commitments:
Annex I Parties include the industrialized countries that were members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 1992, plus countries with economies in transition (the EIT Parties), including the Russian Federation, the Baltic States, and several Central and EasternEuropeanStates.
Annex II Parties consist of the OECD members of Annex I, but not the EIT Parties. They are required to provide financial resources to enable developing countries to undertake emissions reduction activities under the Convention and to help them adapt to adverse effects of climate change. In addition, they have to “take all practicable steps” to promote the development and transfer of environmentally friendly technologies to EIT Parties and developing countries. Funding provided by Annex II Parties is channelled mostly through the Convention’s financial mechanism.
Non-Annex I Parties are mostly developing countries. Certain groups of developing countries are recognized by the Convention as being especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, including countries with low-lying coastal areas and those prone to desertification and drought. Others (such as countries that rely heavily on income from fossil fuel production and commerce) feel more vulnerable to the potential economic impacts of climate change response measures.
The 49 Parties classified as least developed countries (LDCs) by the United Nations are given special consideration under the Convention on account of their limited capacity to respond to climate change and adapt to its adverse effects. Parties are urged to take full account of the special situation of LDCs when considering funding and technology-transfer activities.
Several categories of observer organizations also attend sessions of the COP and its subsidiary bodies. These include representatives of United Nations secretariat units and bodies, such as UNDP, UNEP and UNCTAD, as well as its specialized agencies and related organizations, such as the GEF and WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Observer organizations include intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the OECD and International Energy Agency (IEA), along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Over 1,409 NGOs and 86 IGOs are admitted as observers. The NGOs represent a broad spectrum of interests, and embrace representatives from business and industry, environmental groups, farming and agriculture, indigenous populations, local governments and municipal authorities, research and academic institutes, labour unions, women and gender and youth groups. Constituency groupings have emerged from the above groups to facilitate interaction.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Fact sheet: The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC(COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997. The Protocol shares the objective and institutions of the Convention. The major distinction between the two, however, is that while the Convention encouraged industrialized countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. The detailed rules for its implementation were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the .Marrakesh Accords.The Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of.common but differentiated responsibilities.The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005. 192 Parties have ratified the treaty to date.Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries and the European Community have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. For this group of countries, reductions of 11% are projected for the first Kyoto commitment period from 2008 to 2012, provided policies and measures planned by these countries are put in place (see Annex). These countries will also have to make use of the Protocol.s .flexible mechanisms. in order to reach their collective emission reduction goal.
Monitoring targets under the Protocol
Under the Protocol, countries. actual emissions have to be monitored and precise records have to be kept of the trades carried out. Parties must keep a national registry to track and record transactions under the mechanisms. The secretariat keeps an independent transaction log to verify that transactions are consistent with the rules of the Protocol, and expert review teams have been set up to ensure compliance.
The International Transaction Log (ITL)
This sophisticated computerized system became operational in November 2007, thereby giving market players the assurance that the cornerstone of the Kyoto trading system is in place before the actual start of the Kyoto accounting period on 1 January 2008. The UNFCCC system to support the implementation of the CDM . the CDM registry . also started real-time operation in November 2007. This means that credits earned by industrialized countries through the implementation of emission reduction projects in developing countries will become tradeable as soon as their national registries begin using the ITL.
Implementation in Thailand
Thailand recognized the significance of global warming and climate change and therefore ratified the UNFCCC on 28th December 1994 with enforcement taking place on 28th March 1995, and the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002.
The following are some of the reasons why Thailand decided to become a part of the Convention:
- the issue was of international importance and had international consequences;
- Thailand was one of the emitters of greenhouse gases;
- Thailand would be affected by climate change.After joining the Convention, Thailand established a National Committee on UNFCCC that fell under the supervision of the National Environmental Board. The organizational structure of the different agencies that were set up to respond to climate change in Thailand and CDM is shown below.
Since October 2004, ONEP has been coordinating implementation activities under the Convention between several national and international organizations such as:
- The 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC: COP -10
- The 21st and 22nd sub-committee meetings which included the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)
- The meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the technical arm of the Convention and which consists of climate change scientists from all over the world.
There are two types of activities that Thailand is part of.
- Activities required under the Commitment to the Convention. These include the preparation of national communications reports. In the past, ONEP has prepared a proposal requesting funding from the UNDP for the preparation of “Self-Assessment for the Preparation of a Project Proposal for Thailand’s Second National Communication to the UNFCCC”, which received UNDP’s approval for funding, under the GEF, for US$15,000. This was the first phase under the project titled “Thailand: Climate Change Enabling Activity for the Second National Communication”. At present, ONEP is in the midst of preparing the second national communications report.
- Activities that support the efforts of the Convention. ONEP, acting as the country’s central coordinating body, has prepared a framework for climate change in Thailand that includes mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, promoting education, training and public awareness, capacity building among various departments and units, research and development activities, and the implementation of CDM as per the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition, since the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol on 16 February 2005, Thailand as a non-Annex I country can now work together with Annex I countries in establishing clean development mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol in order to promote the use of greenhouse gas reduction technologies in Thailand, as well as to promote the country’s ability to compete by developing sustainable business practices. ONEP recognizes the importance of clean development mechanisms and has therefore prepared a guideline and structure for implementing CDM projects in Thailand, which would be reviewed and considered for future use.
The Office of Natural Resources & Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP),under the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MONRE), is in a process of drafting a strategy to address the issue of climate change in Thailand. The strategy outlines mechanisms and measures that would need to be undertaken by various agenies. These include measures for mitigating greenhouse gases emission and adapting to impacts of climate change, as well as incorporated with the National Social and Economic Development Plan with details on:
- Enhancing capabilities on adaptation to climate change impact and vulnerability.
- Reducing greenhouse gases emission.
- Promoting public awareness and participation on climate change.
- Strengthening on capacity building.
- Strengthening climate change research and development.
Annex I, Annex II countries and developing countries
Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:
- Annex I countries – industrialized countries and economies in transition
- Annex II countries – developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries
- Non Annex I countries – Developing countries.
Annex I countries which have ratified the Protocol have committed to reduce their emission levels of greenhouse gasses to targets that are mainly set below their 1990 levels. They may do this by allocating reduced annual allowances to the major operators within their borders. These operators can only exceed their allocations if they buy emission allowances, or offset their excesses through a mechanism that is agreed by all the parties to UNFCCC.
Annex II countries are a sub-group of the Annex I countries. They comprise the OECD members, excluding those that were economies in transition in 1992.
Developing countries are not required to reduce emission levels unless developed countries supply enough funding and technology. Setting no immediate restrictions under UNFCCC serves three purposes:
- it avoids restrictions on their development, because emissions are strongly linked to industrial capacity
- they can sell emissions credits to nations whose operators have difficulty meeting their emissions targets
- they get money and technologies for low-carbon investments from Annex II countries.
Developing countries may volunteer to become Annex I countries when they are sufficiently developed.
Some opponents of the Convention argue that the split between Annex I and developing countries is unfair, and that both developing countries and developed countries need to reduce their emissions unilaterally. Some countries claim that their costs of following the Convention requirements will stress their economy. Other countriespoint to research, such as the Stern Report, that calculates the cost of compliance to be less than the cost of the consequences of doing nothing.
Annex I countries
There are 41 Annex I countries and the European Union is also a member. These countries are classified as industrialized countries and countries in transition:
Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America
U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was opened for signature at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (known by its popular title, the Earth Summit). On June 12, 1992, 154 nations signed the UNFCCC, that upon ratification committed signatories’ governments to a voluntary “non-binding aim” to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases with the goal of “preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system.” These actions were aimed primarily at industrialized countries, with the intention of stabilizing their emissions of greenhouse gases at 1990 levels by the year 2000; and other responsibilities would be incumbent upon all UNFCCC parties. The parties agreed in general that they would recognize “common but differentiated responsibilities,” with greater responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the near term on the part of developed/industrialized countries, which were listed and identified in Annex I of the UNFCCC and thereafter referred to as “Annex I” countries.
In the context of the UNFCCC, benchmarking is the setting of emission reduction commitments measured against a particular base year. The only quantified target set in the original FCCC (Article 4) was for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 (Goldemberg et al., 1996, pp. 32–33). There are issues with benchmarking that can make it potentially inequitable (Goldemberg et al., 1996, pp. 32–33). For example, take two countries that have identical emission reduction commitments as measured against the 1990 base year. This might be interpreted as being equitable, but this is not necessarily the case.
In decision making, the precautionary principle is considered when possibly dangerous, irreversible, or catastrophic events are identified, but scientific evaluation of the potential damage is not sufficiently certain.The precautionary principle implies an emphasis on the need to prevent such adverse effects.
Uncertainty is associated with each link of the causal chain of climate change. For example, future GHG emissions are uncertain, as are climate change damages. However, following the precautionary principle, uncertainty is not a reason for inaction, and this is acknowledged in Article 3.3 of the UNFCCC .
Interpreting Article 2
The ultimate objective of the Framework Convention is to prevent “dangerous” anthropogenic (i.e., human) interference of the climate system. As is stated in Article 2 of the Convention, this requires that GHG concentrations are stabilized in the atmosphere at a level where ecosystems can adapt naturally to climate change, food production is not threatened, and economic development can proceed in a sustainable fashion.
Human activities have had a number of effects on the climate system.Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times. Warming of the climate system has been observed, as indicated by increases in average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice cover, and rising global average sea level. As assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “[most] of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. “Very likely” here is defined by the IPCC as having a likelihood of greater than 90%, based on expert judgement.
Graphical description of risks and impacts of climate change by the IPCC, published in 2001. A revision of this figure by Smith and others shows increased risks.
Future climate change will have a range of beneficial and adverse effects on human society and the environment. The larger the changes in climate, the more adverse effects are expected to predominate (see effects of global warming for more details). The IPCC has informed the UNFCCC process in determining what constitutes “dangerous” human interference of the climate system. Their conclusion is that such a determination involves value judgements, and will vary among different regions of the world. The IPCC has broken down current and future impacts of climate change into a range of “key vulnerabilities,” e.g., impacts affecting food supply, as well as five “reasons for concern,” shown opposite.
Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations
In order to stabilize the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, emissions would need to peak and decline thereafter.The lower the stabilization level, the more quickly this peak and decline would need to occur. The emissions associated with atmospheric stabilization varies among different GHGs. This is because of differences in the processes that remove each gas from the atmosphere. Concentrations of some GHGs decrease almost immediately in response to emission reduction, e.g., methane, while others continue to increase for centuries even with reduced emissions, e.g., carbon dioxide.
All relevant GHGs need to be considered if atmospheric GHG concentrations are to be stabilized. Human activities result in the emission of four principal GHGs: carbon dioxide (chemical formula: CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and the halocarbons (a group of gases containing fluorine, chlorine and bromine). Carbon dioxide is the most important of the GHGs that human activities release into the atmosphere. At present, human activities are adding emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere far faster than they are being removed. The climate system would take time to respond to a stabilization in the atmospheric concentration of CO2. Temperature stabilization would be expected within a few centuries. Sea level rise due thermal expansion would be expected to continue for centuries to millennia. Additional sea level rise due to ice melting would be expected to continue for several millennia.
Conferences of the Parties
Since the UNFCCC entered into force, the parties have been meeting annually in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in the mid-1990s, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. From 2005 the Conferences have met in conjunction with Meetings of Parties of the Kyoto Protocol (MOP), and parties to the Convention that are not parties to the Protocolcan participate in Protocol-related meetings as observers.
COP 1, The Berlin Mandate
The first UNFCCC Conference of Parties took place in March 1995 in Berlin, Germany. It voiced concerns about the adequacy of countries’ abilities to meet commitments under the Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).
COP 2, Geneva, Switzerland
COP 2 took place in July 1996 in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Ministerial Declaration was noted (but not adopted) July 18, 1996, and reflected a U.S. position statement presented by Timothy Wirth, former Under Secretary for Global Affairs for the U.S. State Department at that meeting, which
- Accepted the scientific findings on climate change proffered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its second assessment (1995);
- Rejected uniform “harmonized policies” in favor of flexibility;
- Called for “legally binding mid-term targets.”
COP 3, The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change
COP 3 took place in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. After intensive negotiations, it adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which outlined the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligation for Annex I countries, along with what came to be known as Kyoto mechanisms such as emissions trading, clean development mechanism and joint implementation. Most industrialized countries and some central European economies in transition (all defined as Annex B countries) agreed to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of an average of 6 to 8% below 1990 levels between the years 2008–2012, defined as the first emissions budget period. The United States would be required to reduce its total emissions an average of 7% below 1990 levels; however Congress did not ratify the treaty after Clinton signed it. The Bush administration explicitly rejected the protocol in 2001.
COP 4, Buenos Aires, Argentina
COP 4 took place in November 1998 in Buenos Aires. It had been expected that the remaining issues unresolved in Kyoto would be finalized at this meeting. However, the complexity and difficulty of finding agreement on these issues proved insurmountable, and instead the parties adopted a 2-year “Plan of Action” to advance efforts and to devise mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000. During COP4, Argentina and Kazakhstan expressed their commitment to take on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligation, the first two non-Annex countries to do so.
COP 5, Bonn, Germany
COP 5 took place between October 25 and November 5, 1999, in Bonn, Germany. It was primarily a technical meeting, and did not reach major conclusions.
COP 6, The Hague, Netherlands
COP 6 took place between November 13, – November 25, 2000, in The Hague, Netherlands. The discussions evolved rapidly into a high-level negotiation over the major political issues. These included major controversy over the United States’ proposal to allow credit for carbon “sinks” in forests and agricultural lands, satisfying a major proportion of the U.S. emissions reductions in this way; disagreements over consequences for non-compliance by countries that did not meet their emission reduction targets; and difficulties in resolving how developing countries could obtain financial assistance to deal with adverse effects of climate change and meet their obligations to plan for measuring and possibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the final hours of COP 6, despite some compromises agreed between the United States and some EU countries, notably the United Kingdom, the EU countries as a whole, led by Denmark and Germany, rejected the compromise positions, and the talks in The Hague collapsed. Jan Pronk, the President of COP 6, suspended COP-6 without agreement, with the expectation that negotiations would later resume. It was later announced that the COP 6 meetings (termed “COP 6 bis”) would be resumed in Bonn, Germany, in the second half of July. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the parties to the UNFCCC – COP 7 – had been set for Marrakech, Morocco, in October–November 2001.
COP 6 bis, Bonn, Germany
COP 6 negotiations resumed July 17–27, 2001, in Bonn, Germany, with little progress having been made in resolving the differences that had produced an impasse in The Hague. However, this meeting took place after George W. Bush had become the President of the United States and had rejected the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001; as a result the United States delegation to this meeting declined to participate in the negotiations related to the Protocol and chose to take the role of observer at the meeting. As the other parties negotiated the key issues, agreement was reached on most of the major political issues, to the surprise of most observers, given the low expectations that preceded the meeting. The agreements included:
- Flexible Mechanisms: The “flexibility” mechanisms which the United States had strongly favored when the Protocol was initially put together, including emissions trading; Joint Implementation (JI); and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which allow industrialized countries to fund emissions reduction activities in developing countries as an alternative to domestic emission reductions. One of the key elements of this agreement was that there would be no quantitative limit on the credit a country could claim from use of these mechanisms provided domestic action constituted a significant element of the efforts of each Annex B country to meet their targets.
- Carbon sinks: It was agreed that credit would be granted for broad activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere or store it, including forest and cropland management, and re-vegetation, with no over-all cap on the amount of credit that a country could claim for sinks activities. In the case of forest management, an Appendix Z establishes country-specific caps for each Annex I country. Thus, a cap of 13 million tons could be credited to Japan (which represents about 4% of its base-year emissions). For cropland management, countries could receive credit only for carbon sequestration increases above 1990 levels.
- Compliance: Final action on compliance procedures and mechanisms that would address non-compliance with Protocol provisions was deferred to COP 7, but included broad outlines of consequences for failing to meet emissions targets that would include a requirement to “make up” shortfalls at 1.3 tons to 1, suspension of the right to sell credits for surplus emissions reductions, and a required compliance action plan for those not meeting their targets.
- Financing: There was agreement on the establishment of three new funds to provide assistance for needs associated with climate change: (1) a fund for climate change that supports a series of climate measures; (2) a least-developed-country fund to support National Adaptation Programs of Action; and (3) a Kyoto Protocol adaptation fund supported by a CDM levy and voluntary contributions.
A number of operational details attendant upon these decisions remained to be negotiated and agreed upon, and these were the major issues considered by the COP 7 meeting that followed.
COP 7, Marrakech, Morocco
At the COP 7 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco from October 29 to November 10, 2001, negotiators wrapped up the work on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, finalizing most of the operational details and setting the stage for nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. deadlink deadlink The completed package of decisions is known as the Marrakech Accords. The United States delegation maintained its observer role, declining to participate actively in the negotiations. Other parties continued to express hope that the United States would re-engage in the process at some point and worked to achieve ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the requisite number of countries to bring it into force (55 countries needed to ratify it, including those accounting for 55% of developed-country emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990). The date of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (August–September 2002) was put forward as a target to bring the Kyoto Protocol into force. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The main decisions at COP 7 included:
- Operational rules for international emissions trading among parties to the Protocol and for the CDM and joint implementation;
- A compliance regime that outlined consequences for failure to meet emissions targets but deferred to the parties to the Protocol, once it came into force, the decision on whether those consequences would be legally binding;
- Accounting procedures for the flexibility mechanisms;
- A decision to consider at COP 8 how to achieve a review of the adequacy of commitments that might lead to discussions on future commitments by developing countries.
COP 8, New Delhi, India
Taking place from October 23, – November 1, 2002, COP8 adopted the Delhi Ministerial Declaration that, amongst others, called for efforts by developed countries to transfer technology and minimize the impact of climate change on developing countries. It is also approved the New Delhi work programme on Article 6 of the Convention. The COP8 was marked by Russia’s hesitation, stating that the government needs more time to think it over. The Kyoto Protocol’s fine print says it can come into force only once it is ratified by 55 countries, including wealthy nations responsible for 55 per cent of the developed world’s 1990 carbon dioxide emissions. With the United States — and its 36.1 per cent slice of developed-world carbon dioxide — out of the picture and Australia also refusing ratification, Russia was required to make up the difference, hence it could delay the process.
COP 9, Milan, Italy
December 1 – 12, 2003 The parties agreed to use the Adaptation Fund established at COP7 in 2001 primarily in supporting developing countries better adapt to climate change. The fund would also be used for capacity-building through technology transfer. At COP9, the parties also agreed to review the first national reports submitted by 110 non-Annex I countries.
COP 10, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Not to be confused with Convention on Biological Diversit, also called COP 10 (10th Conference of Parties) leading to the Nagoya Protocol in 2010.
December 6 – 17, 2004. See also Climate ethics: The Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change COP10 discussed the progress made since the first Conference of the Parties 10 years ago and its future challenges, with special emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation. To promote developing countries better adapt to climate change, the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was adopted. The parties also began discussing the post-Kyoto mechanism, on how to allocate emission reduction obligation following 2012, when the first commitment period ends.
COP 11/MOP 1, Montreal, Canada
COP 11 (or COP 11/MOP 1) took place between November 28 and December 9, 2005, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1) to the Kyoto Protocol since their initial meeting in Kyoto in 1997. It was therefore one of the largest intergovernmental conferences on climate change ever. The event marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Hosting more than 10,000 delegates, it was one of Canada’s largest international events ever and the largest gathering in Montreal since Expo. The Montreal Action Plan is an agreement hammered out at the end of the conference to “extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date and negotiate deeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.”Canada’s environment minister, at the time, Stéphane Dion, said the agreement provides a “map for the future.”
COP 12/MOP 2, Nairobi, Kenya
COP 12/MOP 2 took place between November 6 and 17, 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya. At the meeting, BBC reporter Richard Black coined the phrase “climate tourists” to describe some delegates who attended “to see Africa, take snaps of the wildlife, the poor, dying African children and women”. Black also noted that due to delegates concerns over economic costs and possible losses of competitiveness, the majority of the discussions avoided any mention of reducing emissions. Black concluded that was a disconnect between the political process and the scientific imperative. Despite such criticism, certain strides were made at COP12, including in the areas of support for developing countries and clean development mechanism. The parties adopted a five-year plan of work to support climate change adaptation by developing countries, and agreed on the procedures and modalities for the Adaptation Fund. They also agreed to improve the projects for clean development mechanism.
COP 13/MOP 3, Bali, Indonesia
Main article: 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP 13/MOP 3 took place between December 3 and December 15, 2007, at Nusa Dua, in Bali, Indonesia. Agreement on a timeline and structured negotiation on the post-2012 framework (the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol) was achieved with the adoption of the Bali Action Plan (Decision 1/CP.13). The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) was established as a new subsidiary body to conduct the negotiations aimed at urgently enhancing the implementation of the Convention up to and beyond 2012. Decision 9/CP.13 is an Amended to the New Delhi work programme. These negotiations took place during 2008 (leading to COP 14/MOP 4 in Poznan, Poland) and 2009 (leading to COP 15/MOP 5 in Copenhagen).
COP 14/MOP 4, Poznań, Poland
Main article: 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conferenc 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 14 in Poznan. More image and news: 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP 14/MOP 4 took place from December 1 to12, 2008 in Poznań, Poland.Delegates agreed on principles for the financing of a fund to help the poorest nations cope with the effects of climate change and they approved a mechanism to incorporate forest protection into the efforts of the international community to combat climate change.
COP 15/MOP 5, Copenhagen, Denmark
Main article: 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP 15 took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, from December 7 to December 18, 2009.
The overall goal for the COP 15/MOP 5 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark was to establish an ambitious global climate agreement for the period from 2012 when the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires. However, on November 14, 2009, the New York Times announced that “President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement… agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific “politically binding” agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future.”Ministers and officials from 192 countries took part in the Copenhagen meeting and in addition there were participants from a large number of civil society organizations. As many Annex 1 industrialized countries are now reluctant to fulfill commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, a large part of the diplomatic work that lays the foundation for a post-Kyoto agreement was undertaken up to the COP15. The CopenhagenSummit (COP15)
In 2012 the Kyoto Protocol and the mandates included therein aimed at preventing climate change and global warming, expires. In order to ensure that reducing greenhouse gas production is kept a top priority for top leaders around the world, there is an urgent need for a new climate protocol. The Conference of Parties in Copenhagen (COP15) in 2009 was expected to be a milestone in the history of climate change mitigation, but world leaders failed to agree on tangible objectives, sufficient to curb climate change and ensure a sustainable future for our children. Many activists and citizens are disappointed with the agreement, which is not binding and contains different targets for each country. Canada and the United States pledged to reduce their emissions by 17% of their 2005 levels, by 2020. This target fell short of many other industrialized countries’ expectations, which pledge a higher percentage and an earlier base year – the most common being 1990.
Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism
COP-16 day 2: the specter of tragedy
The second day of the sixteenth Conference of Parties (COP-16) summit in Cancún follows much the same as the first, a day that saw Mexican President Felipe Calderón assert in remarks before the delegates assembled in Moon Palace—a highly exclusive hotel, center of the COP-16 talks—that the potential failure of the Cancún talks—that is, their failure precisely to look beyond dominant individual and national interests—would be a “tragedy,” and that climate-negotiators should act during the summit’s two weeks with the interests of humanity in mind. He stressed in particular the concern that should be evinced in Cancún for existing children and future generations. In his address to delegates on the same day, Mario Molina, a Mexican scientist awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, declared it to be “necessary and urgent” that COP-16 produce a climate-agreement—this, amidst a widespread lack of confidence among country-governments and commentators that Cancún will produce any agreement at all.
As was the case on Monday, COP-16’s second day saw dozens of members of international organization “Ching Hai SOS,” a branch of the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, protesting outside the Cancunmesse, a conference center that has been set aside as one of COP-16’s halls of negotiation. The SOS protestors, present outside the Cancumesse throughout the day since the early morning, advocate the general adoption of an organic-vegan diet, claiming such a move to be essential to “save the planet.” They also rather bizarrely maintain such diets to produce good karma, and are likely mistaken in arguing for such a singular solution to the specter of climate catastrophe—the stress on diet seems to overlook the rather pressing issue of capitalism, for example.
In an attempt to spread its message, the SOS has bought advertising space on billboards and taxi in parts of Cancún; this marketing-strategy has also taken up by Greenpeace, which has purchased advertisements on buses in addition to billboards in the city that remind observers of the recent disastrous experience with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a reason to abolish the use of petroleum—reason, that is, beyond petroleum’s inescapable contributions to dangerous anthropogenic interference with the Earth’s climate systems.
It seems that no protests other than that carried out by the SOS were had in Cancún today.
The present author visited Klimaforum10’s campus today. Klimaforum10, the successor of last year’s Klimaforum09 held during COP-15 in Copenhagen, is being held at the El Rey Polo Country Club, itself located a number of kilometers from Puerto Morales, a city some 40 kilometers south of Cancún. Klimaforum10 has installed itself on a pasture within the confines of the country club; it is made up of a number of tents at which workshops, discussions, and film-screenings are had. A number of the events planned to take place at Klimaforum10—a discussion on climate and human conflict; a presentation on the status and possible fate of the ‘Third Pole,’ or the glaciers to be found in the Tibetan highlands; remarks by Polly Higgins, advocate of the introduction of the crime of ecocide into international law; a speech on the impacts on indigenous peoples of glacier-retreat in the Andes; a workshop on the importance of the place of commons in place of statist and private-property regimes; popular reflections on the question of science and responsibility; a panel on the rights of climate-migrants—seem rather compelling, but the location and ethos that seemed there to prevail—one of lifestylism—proved rather disconcerting.
The six Via Campesina caravans that are currently touring various sites in Mexico to highlight the very real damage climate change has to date had on the country—evident above all in the unprecedented rains and floods suffered this year in the country’s south—are expected to arrive in Cancún on either 2 or 3 December, so as to be present for the beginning of the Meeting “For Life and Environmental and Social Justice” on 4 December. In addition to the mass-protest planned for 7 December, Via Campesina is also organizing a march “For Life and Climate Justice” for 5 December. The Espacio Mexicano-Diálogo Climático (Mexican Space for Climate Dialogue, or EsMex), another counter-summit to the COP-16, is currently setting-up its installations in downtown Cancún; the space is to be provided solar energy from a Greenpeace truck, the “Sunflower.”
Today it was revealed that neither Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva nor British Prime Minister David Cameron plan to attend the COP-16 talks at all. In contrast, and in accordance with government-representative José Crespo Fernández, Bolivian President Evo Morales is slated to arrive in Cancún on 9 December, when he is expected to present a speech to international civil society. Though the U.S. plans to send Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to the talks, it still remains unclear whether U.S. president Barack Obama will deign COP-16 with his presence.
The wind power-generator inaugurated by Calderón on the eve of the summit’s opening, located in an air corridor between Cancún and the Cancunmesse, has been denounced in recent days as having failed to meet governmental environmental standards during its construction. Its fate is unclear, but the installation—purportedly erected so as to provide electricity for COP-16—may well have to be removed following the end of the conference, in accordance with existing regulations.
With regard to the state of repressive statist forces in Cancún, the Mexican police and military continue in full force, deployed at several sites in the city and its environs and continuing their patrols. It seems that the federal government has rented from Israel an unmanned aerial vehicle for use in Cancún; it is claimed that the drone will be employed for the monitoring of traffic both vehicular and human in the area.
COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico
Alberta is attending the 16th annual United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP16) on climate change in Cancun, Mexico to support an achievable, fair and comprehensive agreement.
“The world must find solutions to the challenge of meeting a growing global energy demand, retaining economic growth and reducing emissions. While climate change is the focus in Cancun, others will want to hear about the environmental performance of our oil sands. I will take this opportunity to talk about Alberta’s challenges, successes and the importance of our energy resource to all Canadians. We have a record to be proud of and an important story to tell.”
Background to World Climate Negotiation
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s leading scientists from around the world introduced research findings that clearly showed a correlation between a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions, manmade and otherwise, and a rise in global temperatures.
An important part of these prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland. The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In 2007 the IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize.
The IPCC findings were brought to the attention of world leaders who participated in the first UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Rio de Janeiro (frequently referred to as the “Rio Earth Summit“) in 1992.
Following the Rio Earth Summit, world leaders met again in Berlin, Germany in 1995 to make commitments to reduce their respective emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. At this Summit, since referred to as the Berlin Summit, the Contracting Parties reviewed the commitments by the developed countries under the original convention adopted in Rio in 1992, and decided that the commitments aimed at returning their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 was inadequate for achieving the Convention’s long-term objective.
The Conference produced the “Berlin Mandate” and launched a new round of negotiations aimed at strengthening the commitments of the leaders from developed countries. The Berlin Summit was thought by some as “a great first step to achieving a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.”
154 nations signed the UNFCCC, that upon ratification committed signatories’ governments to a voluntary “non-binding aim” to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases with the goal of “preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system The parties agreed in general that they would recognize “common but differentiated responsibilities,” with greater responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the near term on the part of developed/industrialized countries. From 2005 the Conferences have met in conjunction with Meetings of Parties of the Kyoto Protocol (MOP), and parties to the Convention that are not parties to the Protocol can participate in Protocol-related meetings as observers.
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