Talks on Kyoto mechanisms continue in Bonn

Officials from some 150 countries are meeting in Bonn from 31 May to 11 June to tackle a number of practical and technical questions about how best to advance the aims of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.

“When governments adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 they agreed on what the international community must do over the next dozen years or so to minimise climate change,” said Michael Zammit Cutajar, the Convention’s Executive Secretary. “By the end of the year 2000 they must decide the equally important issue of how to achieve the Kyoto target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” “The political commitment that was made in Kyoto will become truly convincing when these complicated technical details are resolved,” he added.

The current talks are preparing for the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention. COP-5 and related meetings will take place in Bonn during the period of 25 October to 5 November 1999; the high-level segment for ministers is expected to be held on 1-2 November.

Delegates will consider the Kyoto Protocol’s three “mechanisms”, which are designed to help developed countries reduce the costs of meeting their emissions targets. A clean development mechanism (CDM) will grant these countries credits for financing developing-country projects that avoid emissions and promote sustainable development. A joint implementation (JI) programme will offer credits for contributing to projects in other developed countries (including the countries of Central/Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union). An international emissions trading regime will allow developed countries to buy and sell emissions credits among themselves.

The Parties must still elaborate the nature and scope of these “flexibility” mechanisms, the criteria for project eligibility, the roles of various institutions, and an accounting system for allocating credits. To ensure the credibility of the mechanisms and the Kyoto commitments, delegates will also start to organise work on a compliance regime for the Protocol.

The Buenos Aires Plan of Action, adopted at COP-4 last November, sets an ambitious deadline of late 2000 for finalising all these issues so that the mechanisms can be fully functional when the Protocol eventually enters into force.

The Kyoto Protocol commits developed countries to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5% compared to 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. It was adopted in December 1997 and signed by 83 countries plus the European Commission during a one-year signature period that ended 15 March 1999. The Protocol will become legally binding when at least 55 countries, including developed countries accounting for at least 55% of developed country emissions, have ratified it.

Daily reporting on the talks can be found on the Linkages website, linked below.

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