BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER

TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept07/01)

7 September  2007


UNFCCC VIENNA MEETING "RECOGNISES" INITIAL EMISSION-REDUCTION RANGES

The UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held a meeting in Vienna on 27-31 August 2007.  The meeting was known as the Vienna Climate Talks and comprised two events:  a session of the Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG) on further commitments of Annex I parties;  and a session of the Dialogue on Longterm Cooperative Action to address climate change.  The AWG came up with Conclusions that recognized recent scientific data that global emissions of  Greenhouse Gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels - well below half the levels in 2000 by the middle of this century.

It also agreed to initially consider an emission reduction range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries.

This range would be part of a set of information that the Group considered as "providing useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions."

The Vienna meeting was setting a foundation for a series of meetings later this year, in which the battle on reduction commitments will really begin.

Chief among these are Bali meetings of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol in December.

In the run-up to the Bali meetings will be a number of other high-level climate-related events, including  the UN Secretary-General's  "high-level event" in New York on 24 September.

Below is a report of the Vienna Climate Talks.  It was published in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) on 4 Sept. 2007, and it is circulated here with permission of the SUNS.

We hope you find it useful.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN

Vienna Climate meeting "recognizes" initial emission-reduction ranges
Published in SUNS #6317 dated  4 September 2007 
By Martin Khor (TWN), Vienna, 1 Sept 2007

A United Nations meeting on climate change in Vienna has recognized recent scientific data that global emissions of Greenhouse Gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels - well below half the levels in 2000 by the middle of this century.

The meeting on 27-31 August, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in effect started a negotiation on how much the developed countries will have to commit to cut their emissions, in order to avoid a catastrophic warming of the world's temperature.

After several days of negotiations in open-ended as well as small groups, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol agreed to initially consider an emission reduction range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries.

This range would be part of a set of information that the Group considered as "providing useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions."

An earlier draft of the conclusions, which was supported by the European Union, adopted this range as an initial indicative range of emission reduction commitments. However, it was rejected by other developed countries, including Japan, Canada and Russia. The softer language of its being a "useful initial parameter" was finally adopted as a compromise.

The Vienna meeting was setting a foundation for a series of meetings later this year, in which the battle on reduction commitments will really begin.

The Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG), chaired by Mr. Leon Charles of Grenada, was holding its fourth session in Vienna, as a prelude to full meetings of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol in Bali on 3-11 December. The AWG will continue its fourth session in Bali.

The Bali meetings will be a crucial milestone in getting countries to launch negotiations to combat climate change in the period after 2012, when the present phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

In the run-up to the Bali meetings will be a number of other high-level climate-related events in various formats. The UN Secretary-General is convening a "high-level event" in New York on 24 September at which many heads of government are expected to attend.

This year's UN General Assembly session will highlight the climate change issue. Environment Ministers of the G8 and selected developing countries will also meet in Berlin next week under the G8 umbrella.

At these meetings, the most contentious issue is expected to be whether only developed countries (listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC) are to commit to emission reductions, as in the present Kyoto Protocol system, or whether developing countries (or some of them) should join in for the first time.

The mandate of the AWG is confined to discussing further emission-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, for developed countries, listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC.

The outcome of the Vienna meeting of the AWG was a document entitled "Analysis of mitigation potentials and identification of ranges of emission: Draft conclusions proposed by the Chair."

According to the document, the AWG noted that the mitigation potential of Annex I Parties is determined by national circumstances and evolves over time. It also noted that the specific factors and indicators relevant to the determination of the mitigation potential and to the identification of ranges of emission reduction objectives of Annex I Parties vary among these Parties.

The AWG acknowledged that understanding mitigation potential is a complex process and noted that further analysis would be helpful. It invited Annex I Parties to continue to work on the analysis of the mitigation potential of policies, measures and technologies at their disposal.

The AWG recognized that the contribution of Working Group III to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) "indicates that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000 by the middle of the twenty-first century in order to stabilize their concentrations in the atmosphere at the lowest levels assessed by the IPCC to date in its scenarios. Hence, the urgency to address climate change."

In its crucial and lengthy paragraph 7, the Conclusions stated: "The AWG noted the usefulness of the ranges referred to in the AR4. Recognizing the outcomes of the contribution of Working Group II to the AR4, on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation, the AWG also noted that the lower the stabilization level achieved, the lower the consequent damages.

"The AWG recognized that the contribution of Working Group III to the AR4 indicates that achieving the lowest stabilization level assessed by the IPCC to date and its corresponding potential damage limitation would require Annex I Parties as a group to reduce emissions in a range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, through means that may be available to Annex I Parties to reach the emission reduction targets. These ranges are drawn from box 13.7 in the report of Working Group III.

"Furthermore, these ranges would be significantly higher for Annex I Parties if they were a result of analysis assuming that emission reductions were to be undertaken exclusively by Annex I Parties. The AWG noted that the IPCC ranges do not take into account lifestyle changes which have the potential of increasing the reduction range.

"The AWG also recognized that achievement of these reduction objectives by Annex I Parties would make an important contribution to overall global efforts required to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention, as set out in its Article 2."

In paragraph 8, the AWG noted the concerns raised by small island developing States and some developing countries with regard to the lack of analysis of stabilization scenarios below 450 ppm CO2 equivalent, which corresponds to the lowest range (outlined in paragraph 7 above) and in this context, noted the possibility for further scientific work in this regard.

In paragraph 9, the Conclusions stated that: "In line with the iterative approach of its work programme, the AWG considered that the information referred to in paragraph 7 above provides useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions in the light of information it would receive, including information referred to in paragraph 8 above."

In subsequent paragraphs, the AWG also noted that a greater mitigation potential is at the disposal of Annex I Parties through the wider use of flexibility mechanisms, taking fully into account sustainable development considerations.

The AWG acknowledged the importance of considering further information on indicative ranges of emission reductions by Annex I Parties, including quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments, for further commitments pursuant to Article 3, paragraph 9, of the Kyoto Protocol and in accordance with decision 1/CMP. 1, through their domestic and international efforts.

The AWG also acknowledged the importance of receiving information on the potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects on all Parties, in particular, developing country Parties, of available tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties. The AWG invited Annex I Parties to include in their submissions due on 15 February 2008 information on these issues.

The AWG also invited Parties to submit to the secretariat by 9 November 2007 their views on the development of a timetable to guide the completion of its work.

At the start of the AWG meeting, the UNFCCC secretariat presented a new technical paper on "Synthesis of information relevant to the determination of the mitigation potential and to the identification of possible ranges of emission reduction objectives of Annex I Parties." (FCCC/TP/2007/1).

The paper contains an important table on emission stabilization scenarios (compiled from IPCC data) providing six scenarios linked to different concentrations of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere (measured in CO2 equivalent). The scenarios range from 445-490 ppm in the lowest category to 855-1,130 ppm in the highest category.

For each category of Greenhouse Gas concentration, corresponding data is given on global mean temperature increase (above the pre-industrial level), required reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2050 (compared to 2000 levels), range of reduction in GDP in 2050 because of mitigation, allowed emissions by Annex I Parties in 2020 (percentage change from 1990 emissions) and allowed emissions by Annex I Parties in 2050 (percentage change from 1990 emissions).

For example, for the lowest category, the scenario is that a 445-490 ppm CO2 equivalent concentration of Greenhouse Gas would be linked to a 2.0-2.4 degree Centigrade rise in temperature; a 50-85% cut in global CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2000; a 5.5% decrease in GDP in 2050 because of mitigation (explained as 0.12% loss per year until 2050); a 25-40% emission cut by Annex I Parties in 2020 compared to 1990 levels; and a 80-95% emission cut by Annex I Parties in 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

The set of data in this table was the most significant by far in guiding the discussions at the AWG in Vienna, and can be expected to be prominent in the future negotiations.

Many delegations at Vienna made use of this lowest-category scenario (linked to 450 ppm) as the most acceptable to target for, and they argued for a related 2 degree Centigrade limit to temperature rise, as well as the 25-40% emission reduction range for Annex I Parties by 2020.

However, coordinators of the small island developing states stressed that even a 2 degree temperature rise would be disastrous for them, and called for studies and scenarios to be developed for ranges below 450 ppm (which had not been covered by the IPCC reports). This request was included in the Conclusions.

Several developed countries, including Canada and Japan, were however reluctant to already adopt the 25-40% range as the explicit starting point in the negotiations.

Besides the AWG session, the Vienna meeting also included a session of the Convention Dialogue, which is a series of workshops to enable delegations to share views in an informal non-negotiations setting.

The Vienna dialogue was on the theme "Long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention." The dialogue had three sessions on the sub-themes - building blocks for long-term cooperative action, finance, and next steps.

The dialogue gave an opportunity for delegations to speak generally on present problems as well as "building blocks", with much of the focus being on the post-2012 climate regime, and the negotiations towards that regime, which the Bali meetings are expected to launch.

Delegates also debated whether the Dialogue process should continue in Bali and after, or whether it should be transformed into a formal negotiating process on the post-2012 regime. There was no decision on this in Vienna.

The co-facilitators of the Dialogue, Sandea de Wet (South Africa) and Howard Bamsey (Australia) were requested to prepare a factual report of the Dialogue, without providing Conclusions either of the meeting or of the Chairs, to be presented to the Bali meeting.

The Vienna meeting also saw active participation of many environmental and development NGOs. There were also business representatives, with the renewable energy business sector being prominent. +

 


BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER