TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb10/01)
2 February 2010
Third World Network

China and India inform UNFCCC on mitigation actions
Published in SUNS #6854 dated 2 February 2010

Geneva, 1 Feb (Meena Raman) -- China and India have communicated to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) their autonomous domestic mitigation actions.

In separate letters, the two countries provided information about their national goals, including reducing the emission intensity of GDP. These goals had already previously been announced at or before Copenhagen.

The two letters cited existing provisions of the Convention under which the information was being conveyed. Notably, both the letters did not make any reference to the Copenhagen Accord, a three-page declaration arising out of a meeting of leaders of around 26 countries (including China and India) that took place in Copenhagen.

Copies of the Accord were presented to the Conference of Parties in a heated final plenary in Copenhagen. Due to disagreements, it was not adopted but only "taken note of", indicating that the COP neither approved nor disapproved of the Accord.

Since then, Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have been urging leaders of the 26 countries to write in to the UNFCCC Secretariat to "associate" themselves with the Accord. Denmark also sent a note to all UNFCCC member states asking that they write to the UNFCCC Secretariat if they want to associate with the Accord.

The UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer also communicated to all member states requesting them to notify the Secretariat if they chose to associate with the Accord, giving a deadline of 31 January. He later explained to the media that this was a "soft deadline."

In the Accord, a deadline of 31 January was also given for developed countries to provide information on their emission reduction targets, and for developing countries to provide information of their mitigation actions.

China and India have sent in letters providing information on mitigation actions before this 31 January date. However, by citing provisions of the Convention itself under which the information is being given, and not referring to the Accord, the implication seems to be that the communicating of this information in itself does not constitute an association with the Accord.

Providing information on steps taken or envisaged by a Party to implement the Convention is an existing obligation under the Convention, and countries have already previously been supplying such information to the Secretariat.

In a letter to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC dated 28 January 2010, Mr. Su Wei, the Director-General of the Department of Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), said that China was communicating to the Secretariat "the information on China's autonomous domestic mitigation actions as announced, for information to the UNFCCC Parties, as follows: China will endeavour to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020 and will increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels."

The letter states that "the above-mentioned autonomous domestic mitigation actions are voluntary in nature and will be implemented in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, in particular Article 4, paragraph 7."

[Article 4(7) of the UNFCCC states that the extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.]

In addition, the NDRC letter further states that "This communication is made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 12, paragraph 1(b), Article 12, paragraph 4 and Article 10, paragraph 2(a)."

[Article 12 (1)(b) of the UNFCCC states that "In accordance with Article 4, paragraph 1, each Party shall communicate to the Conference of the Parties, through the secretariat, the following elements of information: A general description of steps taken or envisaged by the Party to implement the Convention."

[Article 12 (4) states that "Developing country Parties may, on a voluntary basis, propose projects for financing, including specific technologies, materials, equipment, techniques or practices that would be needed to implement such projects, along with, if possible, an estimate of all incremental costs, of the reductions of emissions and increments of removals of greenhouse gases, as well as an estimate of the consequent benefits."

[Article 10(2)(a) states that "Under the guidance of the Conference of the Parties, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation shall consider the information communicated in accordance with Article 12, paragraph 1, to assess the overall aggregated effect of the steps taken by the Parties in the light of the latest scientific assessments concerning climate change.]

The communication from India to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC is contained in a letter dated 30 January 2010 from Mr. Rajani Ranjan Rashmi, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The letter states that "the information on India's domestic mitigation actions [is] as follows: India will endeavour to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 in comparison to the 2005 level."

In a footnote, the Indian letter states that "the emissions from agriculture sector will not form part of the assessment of emissions intensity."

The letter further states that "the proposed domestic actions are voluntary in nature and will not have a legally binding character. Further, these actions will be implemented in accordance with the provisions of the relevant national legislations and policies as well as the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, particularly its Article 4, paragraph 7."

It further adds that "This Communication is made in accordance with the provisions of Article 12 paragraph 1(b), Article 12, paragraph 4 and Article 10, paragraph 2(a) of the UNFCCC."

The Articles referred to in the Indian letter are the same as with that of the Chinese communication. +