TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Apr14/05)
17 April 2014
Third World Network  

Developing countries express reservations over IPCC Report

Geneva, 17 April (Meena Raman) – Twelve developing countries registered reservations or ‘conditions of acceptance’ of the Underlying Report and Technical Summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III (WG III) on ‘mitigation of climate change’.

The twelve countries are Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Maldives, Bahamas, India, Syria and Jordan. 

Reservations or conditions of acceptance were expressed at the final plenary session of WG III held on 12 April in Berlin, during the consideration of the approval of the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) and the acceptance of the Underlying Report and the Technical Summary. The Underlying Report and the Technical Summary were not the subject of negotiations by the 195 governments who comprise the IPCC, unlike the SPM where government delegates and scientists who authored the SPM draft went through a line by line negotiation.

The SPM was approved on the final day with many dozens of amendments, following long and intense negotiations since its consideration began on 7 April (See two earlier TWN reports in this regard).

The final plenary session of WG III was conducted by it’s Co-Chairs who are Ottmar  Edenhofer (Germany), Ramón Pichs-Madruga (Cuba) and Youba Sokona (Mali).

When Edenhofer asked government delegates to approve the SPM, Bolivia first raised its flag and said that it joined the adoption of the SPM with the following reservation:

“The science of the IPCC prioritize economic rationality over other social, collective and human values by which mitigation scenarios and subsequent analysis are based mainly in approaches that promote carbon markets and other types of markets, and it does not properly capture non-market-based approaches to address international cooperation in climate change through the provision of finance and transfer of technology from developed to developing countries.”

It added that “technologies proposed by the IPCC to promote mitigation actions are primarily framed through the use of geoengineering based on Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies, particularly with the use of bio-energy (BE) and carbon capture storage (CCS) and their combination as BECCS, and also technologies of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) are highlighted. These technologies violate the rights of Mother Earth, and particularly its right of adapting naturally to the climate change, and have an important impact on the livelihoods and in the fundamental rights of local and indigenous peoples.”

Bolivia also said that it “considers that any potential action of mitigation must take into account the specific views and approaches of countries to achieve sustainable development in accordance with their national policies and circumstances, particularly the one of Living-well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth”.

The Bolivian delegate said that his country did not accept any reference to the income-country classification in the underlying chapters, which could be appropriate for scientific results but may not be equally appropriate from the policy-making perspective. The Bolivian delegate wanted this reservation reflected in the record of the meeting.   

Following the adoption of the SPM, Edenhofer said that the WG III Reports would be submitted to the 39th session of the IPCC which was convened following the conclusion of the WG III plenary.

Saudi Arabia then made a statement during the plenary on its acceptance statement on the  use of income-based country groupings in the IPCC’s WG III Report, (including the Technical Summary).  Its delegate conveyed the following statement:

“As a condition for our acceptance of the IPCC WG III’s report …my delegation wishes to express our substantial disagreement and reflect it on the records of this session … with respect to the use of income-based country groupings – i.e. the references to and use of country groups such as ‘high income countries’, ‘upper middle-income countries’, ‘lower middle-income countries’, ‘low income countries’ – as the classification methodology or references to groups of countries that is used in various parts of the Underlying Report, …and Technical Summary thereof…”  It then referred to various sections of the Technical Summary as well as sections in the various underlying chapters, including its Annex II on ‘Metrics and Methodology’.

The delegate stressed that “per capita income is often correlated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When countries are grouped by a third parameter, e.g. geographic region, then the relationship between per capita income and GHG emissions can be compared across groups. However if countries are grouped by per capita income, then GHG emissions cannot be compared across groups, particularly when some countries shift with time between groups while others do not. If, as part of a study, countries are permanently assigned to a given group regardless of their actual per capita emissions, then the study risks introducing significant distortions into the results and, in so doing, compromising the scientific integrity and robustness of the study.”

Saudi Arabia added further that “the use of income-based country groupings above is not consistent with long-standing IPCC practice with respect to country groupings as well as with respect to other parts of the IPCC Working Group III report. Such practice is generally on the basis of the ‘RC5’ (Regional Categorisation 5) country grouping (i.e. OECD90, Economies In Transition, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean, Africa and Middle East) or on a binary categorization between developed and developing countries or UNFCCC Annex I and non-Annex I countries.”  The delegate concluded that his delegation “therefore considers as unacceptable the use of such income-based country groupings in this report and its Technical Summary. We will not consider ourselves bound to the use thereof. Such references as used in the report and its Technical Summary may not be equally appropriate from the policy-making perspective.” 

The Saudi Arabian intervention was supported by Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Maldives, Bahamas, India, Syria and Jordan, with Malaysia and India also expressing appreciation for the work of the scientists.

Edenhofer said that the statements expressed will be attached to the report of  the session of WG III, in response to a question by Saudi Arabia. He then declared the session closed, following an expression of how his seven years of work had been full of “outstanding experience” and that the SPM had improved fundamentally. Edenhofer then handed the meeting over to the Chair of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, to conduct the meeting of the IPCC’s 39th session.

The Swiss delegate expressed satisfaction with the SPM on mitigation which was approved and was proud that the best scientific community was attracted to conduct the work and emphasised that the IPCC is a scientific body, with science continuing to make progress.

Austria also emphasised the importance of the SPM which showed “fossil fuels are a dangerous drug” that caused risks to the climate and that serious steps are needed to reduce those risks. It called for strong efforts to move away from a business-as-usual fashion and for governments to broaden their minds to act.

Saint Lucia said that it had mixed feelings, stressing that the world is fast approaching the possibilities to limit GHG emissions. It said that science has cautioned policy makers, the private sector and individuals and all are being affected. It said that “to whom much is given, much is required”.

Saudi Arabia said that it would like its reservations expressed earlier during the session of WG III in relation to the Underlying Report to also be reflected in the record of IPCC’s 39th session to which Dr. Pachauri said that the statement will be appended to the report of the session.

France said that it was happy to accept the WG III Report and the work that was concluded. The delegate said governments did come across many difficulties which were overcome and that the world was in a quest for solutions. It called for “true cooperation” and “true-sharing” and hoped that “this spirit” would prevail in the agreement to be reached in Paris at the end of 2015, in an obvious reference to the agreement being negotiated under the Durban Platform of the UNFCCC.     

The mitigation reports discussed in Berlin were the third in the series of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The first set, on the physical science basis, was completed in Stockholm in September 2013, while the second set, on adaptation, was agreed to in Yokohama in late March this year.

The IPCC AR5’s Synthesis Report, which integrates and synthesizes material from all the three WG reports for policy makers, will be finalized for approval on 31 October 2014, in Copenhagen, Denmark.