Pronk bids to break climate talks deadlock

COP6 chairman promises "sharing of pain as fairly as possible" in compromise proposal

COP6 chairman Jan Pronk tonight attempted to end the paralysis that has gripped talks on deciding ground rules for the Kyoto climate protocol by proposing a compromise package for deliberation by national delegations. Ministers assembled in The Hague will discuss the plan throughout tonight and Friday with the aim of reaching a final agreement by Saturday.

Mr Pronk drafted the paper after a meeting this morning revealed that four working groups created to broker agreement on each of nine "crunch issues" had failed to make serious progress. The chair said he had tried to create a proposal which "will cause pain, but [in which] there will be a sharing of pain as fairly as possible".

The text was released during the evening and ENDS Daily has extended its publication deadline to bring readers the following summary of its main elements:

Supplementarity:

The EU would lose its cherished goal of securing a quantitative cap on industrialised countries' freedom to use the protocol's three flexible mechanisms for reducing emissions. Instead, Mr Pronk proposes simply to restate that reductions should be made "primarily through domestic action since 1990". The "facilitative branch" of a planned protocol compliance body would then "advise" on how countries can achieve this. A first assessment of progress would not be made until 2005.

Sinks:

Industrialised countries would be allowed limited use of "additional activity" sinks such as carbon absorption by agricultural and forestry management practices to offset emission reduction commitments. States would only be allowed to claim credits up to a maximum of 3% of their 1990 baseline emissions. The EU wants no allowable counting of sinks before 2012, but the plan is considerably stricter than an earlier proposal by the USA, Canada and Japan, which would allow America to claim credits for 8-9% of its forestry carbon absorption and some other countries up to 30%.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):

Industrialised countries would have to ensure that any project they support in a developing country is "sustainable" in line with the funder's national sustainability strategy. However, nuclear power projects would be explicitly excluded from the scheme and priority would be given for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Small-scale hydropower is the only explicitly mentioned renewable energy type; large-scale hydropower (big dams) would not be excluded.

Countries would be allowed to gain CDM credits by sponsoring afforestation and reforestation projects to acts as sinks in developing countries. Initiatives which simply prevent deforestation and land degradation would not. However, these would qualify for priority funding under a climate change adaptation fund.

Emissions trading:

As mentioned above, no quantitative cap would be placed on the right of countries to buy emission credits to meet their reduction commitments. However, no country would be able to sell more than 30% of its allowable emissions during the 2008-2012 commitment period of the protocol. This "seller's cap" is aimed at reducing sales of surplus "hot air" credits from eastern Europe, which some worry could threaten the CDM. The EU had wanted a 5% cap.

Funding:

A climate change adaptation fund for developing countries would be financed by placing a 2% levy on the value of all emission reduction credits generated by CDM projects. A second fund would be created under the UN-managed Global Environment Facility (GEF) for technology transfer and capacity building. Industrialised countries would also increase funding through other channels, to reach US$1bn annually not later than 2005. If the sum did not reach this level, a levy would be placed on emissions trading.

Compliance:

If any industrialised country has emissions in 2008-12 above their allowance, it would be forced to make up the gap in a second "commitment period" when tougher emission reduction targets are expected to be agreed. A penalty of 1.5% of the surplus emissions would also be deducted from its emission allowance in the second period, rising by 0.25 percentage points if countries failed to meet their commitments a second time. Emission allowances for the second commitment period would be have to be agreed before 2008 - that is, before it would be known whether a penalty for non-compliance in the first period would apply.

Follow Up:
COP6 official website. See also ENDS Daily's COP6 links.

Please sign in to access this article. To subscribe, view our subscription options, or take out a free trial.

Please enter your details

Forgotten password?

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
subs@endseurope.com
or call 020 8267 8120

Not a subscriber?

Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.