COP-1, COP-2 and COP-3
In 1995, the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) established the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, and gave it the task of reaching agreement on strengthening efforts to combat climate change. Following intense negotiations culminating at COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, delegates agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a market economy to achieve quantified emission reduction targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I Parties, are to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by at least 5% from 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012
(the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Protocol also established three mechanisms to assist Annex I Parties in meeting their national targets cost-effectively – an emissions trading system, joint implementation (JI) of emissions-reduction projects between Annex I Parties, and a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to encourage projects in non-Annex I (developing country) Parties. It was left for subsequent meetings to decide on most of the rules and operational details that determine how these cuts in emissions will be achieved and how countries’ efforts will be measured and assessed. To enter into force, 55 Parties to the UNFCCC, including Annex I Parties representing at least 55% of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990 must ratify the Protocol. To date, 119 Parties have ratified the Protocol, including 32 Annex I Parties, representing a total of 44.2% of total carbon dioxide emissions.
At COP-4, which met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 1998, Parties set a schedule for reaching agreement on the operational details of the Protocol and the strengthening of the UNFCCC’s implementation. In a decision known as the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA), delegates agreed that the deadline for reaching agreement should be COP-6. Critical Protocol-related issues needing resolution included rules relating to the flexibility mechanisms, a regime for assessing Parties’ compliance, and accounting methods for national emissions and emissions reductions. Rules on crediting countries for carbon sinks were also to be addressed. Issues under the UNFCCC requiring resolution included questions of capacity building, the development and transfer of technology, and assistance to those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change or to actions taken by industrialised countries to combat climate change.
COP-5 was held in Bonn from 25 October to 5 November 1999. Progress was made in a number of areas, most notably, the establishment of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), the identification of modalities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CST, and the enhancement of the CCD’s financial base following strong support for a proposal by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to designate land degradation as another focal area for funding. The COP adopted 26 decisions, ten of which were drafted in the CST, which met
in a parallel session to the COP from 2-5 October. While COP-5 got off to a somber start, overshadowed by the tragic terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September, and the shootings by a lone gunman in Switzerland on 27 September, the Conference will certainly be remembered for the marathon negotiations in the contact groups on the CRIC, and the programme and budget. Despite a rapid settling down to business during the first two days of the COP, negotiations in these contact groups lasted throughout the final night, resulting in the Conference concluding 12 hours later than scheduled
COP-6 PART I: COP-6 was held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 13-25 November 2000. Political positions on the key issues remained entrenched, with little indication of willingness to compromise. During the second week of negotiations, COP-6 President Jan Pronk (the Netherlands) attempted to facilitate negotiations on the many disputed political and technical issues by convening high-level informal plenary sessions. He grouped the issues into four “clusters” or “boxes”: (a) capacity building, technology transfer, adverse effects and guidance to the financial mechanism; (b) mechanisms; (c) LULUCF (land use, land use change and forestry); and, (d) compliance, P&Ms, and accounting, reporting and review under Protocol Articles 5, 7 and 8. After almost 36 hours of intense talks in the final two days, negotiators could not achieve an agreement, with financial issues, supplementarity in the use of the mechanisms, compliance and LULUCF proving particularly difficult. On Saturday afternoon, 25 November, President Pronk announced that delegates had failed to reach agreement. Parties agreed to suspend COP-6, and expressed a willingness to resume in
COP-6 PART II: In March 2001, the US administration repudiated the Kyoto Protocol, stating that it considered the Protocol to be “fatally flawed,” as it would damage its economy and exempt developing countries from emission reductions. Parties then reconvened at COP-6 Part II and the fourteenth sessions of the subsidiary bodies, which met in Bonn, Germany, from 16-27 July 2001. After protracted consultations, President Pronk presented his proposal for a draft political decision. Several Parties announced that they could support the political decision, but disagreements surfaced over the nature of the compliance regime. After several days of consultations, ministers finally agreed to adopt the original political decision, with a revised section on compliance. The political decision – or “Bonn Agreements” – was formally adopted by the COP on 25 July 2001. Although draft decisions were approved on a number of key issues, no agreement was reached on decisions regarding the mechanisms, compliance and LULUCF. Since not all texts in the “package” of decisions were completed, all draft decisions were forwarded to COP-7.
Delegates met for COP-7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 29 October to 10 November 2001. The main goal was to complete the tasks left unfinished at COP-6 Parts I and II, thereby bringing to a close three years of negotiations under the Buenos Aires Plan
of Action. The Bonn Agreements served as the basis for negotiation. After protracted bilateral and multilateral talks, a package deal on LULUCF, mechanisms, Protocol Articles
5, 7 and 8, and an input to the WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) was proposed on Thursday evening, 8 November. Although the deal was accepted by most regional groups, including the G-77/China and the EU, the Umbrella Group (a loose alliance of Annex I Parties that includes Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation) did not join the consensus. They disputed, among other things, eligibility requirements and bankability under the mechanisms. However, following extensive negotiations, the Marrakesh Accords were agreed, with key features including consideration of LULUCF Principles and limited banking of units generated by sinks under the CDM.
The eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held at the Vigyan Bhawan Conference Centre in New Delhi, India, from 23 October to 1 November
2002. The meeting marked a new phase of negotiations focused on implementation of the Marrakesh Accords and UNFCCC issues. Among other things, Parties took up and adopted decisions and conclusions on the improved guidelines for non-Annex I national communications; several issues under the financial mechanism; good practices in policies and measures; research and systematic observation; co-operation with relevant international organisations; and methodological issues. Three ministerial high-level round table discussions were held on Wednesday and Thursday,
30-31 October, to discuss on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. On the final day, Parties adopted the Delhi Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. The Delhi Declaration reaffirms development and poverty eradication as overriding priorities in developing countries and implementation of UNFCCC commitments according to Parties common but differentiated responsibilities, development priorities and circumstances. It does not call for a dialogue on broadening commitments. The usual division between developed and developing country positions on many issues was in evidence at COP-8. Many countries had hoped that the developed/developing country dichotomy would break down, exposing the variety of interests within non-Annex I countries. This would have facilitated the adoption of a Delhi Declaration initiating a dialogue on broadening commitments, in accordance with the stated positions of Annex I countries. Instead, the voice of non-Annex I countries in favour of such a declaration was drowned by calls from more powerful developing countries in favour of a declaration focusing on adaptation.