TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb08/03)
14 February 2008
New York, 13 Feb (Meena Raman) -- Should the UN General Assembly have a role in setting policy and operational directions on climate change, or should its role remain as a forum for discussion, leaving it to other UN agencies to play their roles?
This issue was being discussed quietly in the corridors at the second day of the General Assembly thematic debate on "addressing climate change: the UN and the world at work." While the first day (Monday) comprised discussions around two panel sessions, the second day (Tuesday) saw Ministers and diplomats from member states making statements at the GA hall.
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According to some G77 members, they are also concerned that there are already complex and delicate processes taking place, particularly in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To initiate another climate-related process in the GA framework may complicate the situation, said these members.
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tension between the apparent ambition of the GA President to upgrade
the GA's role, and the cautious response of the G77 and
The day's proceedings also saw interesting statements from some of the major countries and groupings involved in the climate negotiations, including the G77 and China, the EU, the Africa, Arab and Pacific groups, the LDCs, the alliance of small island states, and the US, China and Brazil. The session will be extended to a third day due to the long list of speakers.
In his opening remarks, the GA President, Srgjan Kerim, said "what we need now is a clear strategic vision from Member States so that all parts of the UN system can focus their efforts."
He said that leaders from the UN system have asked for "clear political backing" from member states so they can implement changes necessary so that the UN can deliver as one. He added that "many member states" expressed the desire to set out the general principles of a policy framework for UN activities on climate change.
To do so there are "pertinent questions" to consider, he said. What strategic goals should the UN adopt to prepare for the post-Kyoto regime in 2012? What financial architecture is needed to best channel funds to these priorities? How can we mainstream climate change into the development agenda? How can we achieve better coherence within the system?
[In referring to the "post-Kyoto regime in 2012", the President was pre-judging that the Kyoto Protocol will come to an end in 2012. In fact, only the first period of commitment by developed countries in Annex I is ending in 2012, and negotiations are taking place within the Protocol for a second commitment period starting in 2013.]
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Added Ambassador Ashe: "This remains the purview of the member states to decide on. Work on coordination mechanisms, and structures or frameworks, including clusters of activity or lead agencies must be subject of intergovernmental consideration and decision prior to implementation."
The G77 recognized the primacy of the UN in directing and supporting global efforts to meet the global challenge of climate change in supporting its Framework Convention on Climate Change. "The General Assembly, given its universality, should unequivocally urge Parties to undertake urgent action now to meet their commitments under the Convention, provide clear policy direction in this regard and to support the Bali Plan of Action", said Ashe.
"We need effective and comprehensive global response, within the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, to cover adaptation, technology transfer and financing, as well as mitigation. Without rapid and tangible efforts by developed countries in this regard, climate change will lead to increased poverty and will negate our efforts at achieving sustainable development," he added.
The G77 reiterated that the UNFCCC is and should remain the primary comprehensive framework for addressing climate change. "There should not be parallel process of debates that would detract from the negotiation process under the Convention... This thematic debate, as well as the Secretary General's report on the Overview of UN activities in relation to Climate Change should not attempt to influence any other processes such as the system- wide coherence debate or the discussions on international environmental governance."
The G77 stressed that developed countries must take the lead in addressing the implementation gap, since the extent to which developing countries can effectively respond to the challenge depends on the effective implementation by developed countries of their commitments related to financing and technology transfer.
"Appropriate mitigation actions will have to be enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building that are commensurate with the magnitude of the tasks ahead of us, that is in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner, as agreed in the Bali Action Plan.
"The provision of financial resources is a binding commitment of developed country parties. Clear guidance should be given to facilitate access to financial resources and investments without conditionalities.
"It is essential that such financial resources not be considered as ODA but additional, and in compliance with existing binding commitments under the Convention. Further, financing for adaptation to climate change and the impact of response measures should not be a reallocation or realignment of existing development financing."
On technology, the G77 said that developing countries should be provided with greater access to cost-effective, efficient and affordable advanced clean technologies, "Efforts in this regard need to be scaled up. Furthermore, the UN can play an important role through the promotion of an intellectual property rights regime that facilitates the transfer of such technologies".
The G77 also called for increased support for capacity building in developing countries to enhance national efforts to promote an integrated approach to climate change response measures and sustainable development planning.
He said that "Unequivocal scientific evidence, the increasing impact of climate events and the resulting increased public attention have elevated climate change high up the political agenda. The international community needs to respond to this challenge. The UN provides the appropriate multilateral framework to deal with the issue and the UNFCCC is the only forum where global decisions about future actions can be agreed to.
"The time has come for the UN to strengthen its response to climate change and speaks with a united voice. The UN system must be capable of working together to support international efforts to address the negative impacts of climate change: through the UNFCCC as the appropriate multilateral framework for the negotiation; through the work of the agencies, funds and programmes who are best placed to provide an integrated response to the complementary challenges of promoting sustainable development, achieving the MDGs and tackling the impacts of climate change; through the voice of the S-G.
"It is in this light that the EU fully supports the efforts under the leadership of the SG and carried out by the Chief Executives Board to achieve a coordinated UN approach to climate change."
"Implementing a post 2012 climate change framework will present fundamental challenges to the global community and calls for a strengthened international environmental governance," stressed the EU.
Algeria, speaking for the Arab Group, said that international action and cooperation must give special attention to supporting the developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, and take into account the interests of developing countries that produce fossil fuels, including oil, whose economies will be adversely affected by the responding measures to climate change, as well as the interests of the developing countries whose economies will be affected adversely by measures and procedures on the exploitation of forests.
It also called for the development and transfer of clean technologies to developing countries, including technologies of clean fuel production, and the technologies of carbon dioxide capture and storage and the development of the projects of the clean development mechanism and the establishment of research and study centres for climate changes in developing counties.
It said that the LDCs would raise their voice for the stabilisation scenario, where we have to reduce our emissions by 50% compared to our present emissions by 2050. Failing to achieve this target would mean unbearable consequences for the developing countries especially the most vulnerable LDCs.
Brazil also added that we must act decisively to promote, facilitate and finance the transfer of and access to environmentally-sound technologies and know-how, particularly from developed to developing countries, for both adaptation and mitigation. "Innovative mechanisms for removal of barriers to transfer and diffusion of these technologies to developing countries, including new and additional financing, are fundamental issues that should be discussed and agreed upon under the Bali Action Plan."
regards the post-2012 international cooperation,
-- The principles established by the Convention and the Protocol and the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" as constituting the essential foundation for international cooperation; and any framework must be firmly based on them.
-- The four building blocks (mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance) are all important components in developing an effective framework and should be given equal attention;
-- An effective response to climate change requires broad participation of the international community. The effectiveness of participation by developing countries will, to a significant extent, depend on whether the developed countries will take substantive actions on financial and technological assistance. "Effective mechanisms should be set up as soon as possible, to ensure that measurable, reportable and verifiable assistance be provided to the developing countries with regard to financial resources, technology and capacity building to facilitate their achievement of sustainable development," it said.
As new capital assets will triple between 2000 and 2030, the UN should make efforts to direct investment and financial flows towards technology that is more environmentally friendly to ensure that countries do not get locked into unclean technology in the decades to come.