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China and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Its Kyoto Protocol
2004/06/16





  The major activities in the multilateral domain on climate change in the year of 2000 were the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 12th and 13th sessions of its two subsidiary bodies and the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP 6).  Chinese delegations consisted of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the State Development and Planning Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, the State Environmental Protection Administration and the Chinese Meteorological Administration attended these meetings.  Furthermore, intersessional consultations on the major topics for negotiation such as the three mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, the utilization of the “carbon sink” and the procedure of compliance of the convention were held.  China sent delegates to these consultations.  

  The 12th session of the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) were held in Bonn, Germany in June 2000.  The 13th session of the two subsidiary bodies were held in Lyon, France in September 2000.  The primary task of these two sessions was to implement the decisions of the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP 5) and make preparations for COP 6.  So far as the two sessions were concerned, there was no outstanding changes in the situation of the negotiation, the positions of the various sides and the balance of power.  In the negotiation on the major topics such as the three mechanisms, the role of the “carbon sink” and technology transfer, the various sides further exchanged views but did not make much progress.

  The COP 6 was held in the Hague, Netherlands from November 13 to 25, 2000.  During this period, the ministerial meeting was held from November 20 to 25.  This was the most important conference of the parties since the Kyoto conference in 1997.

  The task of the conference was to put into effect the various obligations under the UNFCCC for the developed countries to help the developing countries and reach agreement on the major topics in the domain of climate change such as the three mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, the role of the “carbon sink” and the procedure of compliance of the convention so as to strengthen the implementation of the convention and impel the Kyoto Protocol to go into force before 2002.

  The various sides showed great concern and expectations over this conference, with close to 7000 people representing 181 governments of the contracting parties, international organizations, NGOs and news media in attendance; the Queen of the Netherlands attended the conference on two occasions; its Prime Minister attended the opening ceremony; the Presidents of France, Costa Rica and Vice Presidents of Iran and two other countries and over 70 ministers of various countries attended and spoke at the conference.

  To push for the progress of the conference, Pronk, Minister of Environment of the Netherlands sorted the topics of the conference into four categories, i.e. (1) Providing funding assistance, capacity building  and technological transfer to the developing countries; (2) The role of carbon sink; (3) The three mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol; (4) The compliance of the convention, the reporting and appraisal procedure and prepared a copy of “The Chairman’s Draft Text”.  The ministers of various countries directly participated in the negotiation on the foregoing topics.

  On the question of providing funding and technological transfer to the developing countries, the positions of the developed countries became somewhat flexible.  President Cirac of France, on behalf of the EU indicated that it supported the increase of donations to the Global Environmental Fund (GEF).  The Deputy Prime Minister of the UK indicated that the funds of the GEF should be increased by 50 %.  The EU and “The Umbrella Group” (the US, Japan, Canada and Australia) had respectively submitted specific programs. Though they were far from the needs of the developing countries, it was the first time the developed countries made indications of substance.

  One of the focuses of the negotiation on the three mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol was the “supplementary” issue, i.e. to what degree the developed countries could fulfil their obligation of emission reduction through activities beyond their borders. The Umbrella Group attempted to use the three mechanisms of the protocol in an unrestricted way to fulfil its commitment of emission reduction; whereas the EU and “The Group of 77+China”advocated that there should be strict upper limits for the use of the three mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol; activities beyond borders could only be a supplement to domestic emission reduction.  On the question of the utilization of the “carbon sink” , the Umbrella Group attempted to realize its aim of lessening its obligation of emission reduction through the adoption of the carbon sink and its method of calculation favorable to it; whereas the EU and “The Group of 77+China”stressed the effect of substantive emission reduction.

  On the question of “the Procedure of Compliance”, the parties agreed to the establishment of a standing body of compliance and basically reached  consensus on the fundamental framework and its operational procedure.  However, differences remained obvious on the questions of the composition of the body of compliance, “discriminate treatments” of the developed and the developing countries and the consequences of violation of the convention.

  To sum up, the parties were very close to a consensus on some issues, but due to the sharp conflict of interests over the nucleus issues, a package agreement eventually was not reached.  The conference decided to continue its sitting between May and June 2001.

  China and the UN Convention on Combating Desertification

  The 4th Conference of Contracting Parties to the UN Convention on Combating Desertification (hereinafter as the convention ) was held in Bonn, Germany from December 11 to 22, 2000.  During this period, a ministerial meeting was held from December 18 to 19 and a round table meeting of members of parliament of the contracting parties was held from December 12 to 14. 172 contracting parties sent delegates to the conference.  UNEP, UNDP, UNFAO, UNFCCC , the Secretariat of the Convention on Bio-Diversity and the EU sent observers to the conference.  Delegates of over 100 countries and international organizations spoke at the high-level meeting.

  This conference primarily discussed the important topics such as the implementation of the convention, the arrangement of the bodies and their operation, the program and the budget, the global mechanism, the declaration on the implementation of the convention and the arrangement for the 5th Conference of the Contracting Parties.  The conference reviewed the individual reports on the implementation of the convention of 31 countries including China.  On the question of the program and the budget, the conference reached consensus only on replenishing funding for the participation in the next conference by the delegates of the developing countries affected by desertification and the NGOs.  In accordance with the “Recife Initiative” adopted by the 3rd Conference of the Contracting Parties, the conference also held consultations on the declaration on the implementation of the convention.  Due to the passive attitude of the developed countries on the question of the implementation, the declaration basically only repeated the relevant contents of the convention.  The conference also decided that the 5th Conference of the Contracting Parties would be held in Bonn from September 17 to 29, 2001.

  Taken as a whole, the conference did not make much progress on  substantive issues.  The developed countries, especially the EU countries, treated perfunctorily the topics of financial assistance, technological transfer, review of the implementation of the convention and the formulation of the protocol.  The developing countries fervently urged the developed countries to carry out their obligations under the convention but with little result.

  The Chinese Delegation consisted of officials from the Foreign Ministry , the Forestry Administration and other departments attended the conference.  Li Yucai, Vice Director General of the Forestry Administration and Head of the Chinese Delegation spoke at the Ministerial Meeting, giving an account of the achievements of China in the prevention of desertification and sand control, the present status of the desertification and the policy measures it intended to take.  

  The Chinese Delegation carried out a great amount of conciliatory work among the developed countries and some radical developing countries, put forward numerous constructive views and played a most important role in deciding the major topics.  On the question of the implementation of the convention, the Chinese delegates actively talked with the various parties and finally made the conference decide to call a meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group in Bonn from March 19 to April 6, 2001 and authorize the meeting to submit a background report on the establishment of the commission on reviewing the implementation of the convention.  This outcome was of important significance in urging the developed countries to implement the convention and was one of the most important results of this conference.  The Chinese Delegation also briefed the conference on China’s achievements in the prevention of desertification and won unanimous and favorable comments of the parties.

  The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China also sent for the first time its Member Wang Tao to attend the round table meeting of the members of the parliament.

  Up to the end of 2000, 172 countries ratified or acceded to the convention.

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