Contracting texts to expand emissions

November 15, 2000

Southern proposals on equity mysteriously disappear

The Kyoto mechanisms will undoubtedly dominate discussions over the coming week, since the stakes are particularly high for industrialised countries. The reduction costs for industrialised countries could be lowered by as much as 95 per cent if they are able to meet their Kyoto commitments through the flexibility mechanisms (see graph: Cost reduction using different flexibility mechanisms). Heavily bracketed negotiating texts indicate the controversies that still exist over all three, particularly over the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the mechanism that deals with project-based trading between industrialised and developing countries.

Already, the opening statement by G77 chairperson Sani Zangon Daura, delivered on his behalf by the head of the Nigerian delegation, warned rather strongly that the G77 would stand up for the rights and views of the group. "This means that attempting to delete from a negotiating text any proposal made or desired by any Party, over that Party´s objection is not permissible," he said. "It is one thing for chairmen to facilitate our negotiations, but that does not include the authority to delete proposals desired by sovereign governments." While the speech did not elaborate on had been deleted by the chairpersons of the contact groups, and Nigerian head of delegation Mohammed Barkindo refused to comment, paragraphs relating to equity have been considerably abbreviated in the mechanisms texts, enough to change the meaning considerably.

The text of October 3, 2000 on both CDM and JI had an elaboration of the definition of equity, not just as per capita entitlements to the atmosphere, but also as calling on developed countries to contract their greenhouse gas emissions, with per capita levels in developed and developing countries coming on a converging path, and related to a trend leading to the stabilisation and eventual reductions of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The bracketed text carries on to state that the CDM should not have any possibility or potential of freezing or perpetuating past and present equities between developed and developing countries. Moreover, it calls for the implementation of CDM to be based on equitable developmental rights.

The October 27 texts on JI and CDM by the chairmen, meanwhile, has only one paragraph on equity and the need to reduce per capita inequities, with no mention of the need for industrialised countries to contract their emissions, or reference to past and present inequities. Even the need for CDM to be based on equitable developmental rights has been deleted. Also very important for developing countries, the line that states that projects under the CDM shall not increase the costs of reducing emissions in host country Parties in the long term disappears in the October 27 text. Even in the interests of brevity and clarity, the deletion of these two important aspects without negotiation is not justifiable. Already, the text only affirms these principles, rather than asserting them in any way that creates an obligation for industrialised countries to restrict their over-use of common atmospheric space.

The texts do retain, so far, references to an adaptation fund under the CDM, JI and Emissions Trading. But according to some negotiators, the figure being discussed for the fund is only 1 per cent of the transaction costs, of which 20 per cent will go towards administrative costs.