Trade and Climate change update for June 2011
Willemien Viljoen, tralac Researcher, provides an update on the UN Climate Change negotiations
The outcome of the meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) which took place in Cancun, Mexico at the end of 2010 included a set of decisions from the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). Paragraph 90 of the Decision, under economic and social consequences of response measures, state that measures which is taken to address climate change should not place undue restrictions on international trade. Paragraph 93 calls for “.. a forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures.”
The chairs of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) were requested to convene such a forum at the 34th and 35th sessions of these bodies to develop a work programme to address the impact of response measures with the goal of adopting the modalities for the operationalisation of the work programme and a possible forum at the 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa later this year. Thus these response measures formed part of the agenda of the 34th sessions of the SBI and SBSTA from 6-17 June 2011 in Bonn, Germany.
Prior to the Bonn meetings the SBI and SBSTA received various submissions regarding the impact of response measures from the member country parties and civil society in accordance with paragraph 94 of the Cancun decisions. In terms of these submissions most developing countries requested the forum be turned into a permanent body with bi-annual meetings, while developed countries indicated that the forum should rather take the form of a workshop.
Algeria identified three main areas for the work programme of the forum: economic diversification, modelling and insurance and financial risk management.
According to Australia the forum should provide countries with an opportunity to share information on actual and observed impacts of response measures and that there should be a scientific approach to the work programme of the forum.
The submission by China and the G77 proposed that the forum include a wide range of participation with the focus being on addressing the impact of response measures by developed countries on developing countries. The forum should allow for the exchange of different views on the effects of response measures in order to promote understanding about the economic and social consequences of response measures and to provide assistance to developing countries to address these impacts. It is proposed that the forum meet bi-annually, report annually to the COP and give recommendations to the COP on future work to be undertaken.
The DRC is sceptic whether the impact of response measures will be brought under the ambit of the WTO. However, parties should discuss the adverse effects of response measures on trade to avoid that the outcome of the UNFCCC will be inconsistent with the international trade rules of the WTO.
The EU submitted that the development of a work programme for the forum should be postponed until all the member country parties have had an open discussion on the ongoing work and activities under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
According to the submission by Grenada on behalf of the Small Island States the main focus of the forum should be on assessing the impacts of response measures on LDCs and Small Island and developing states and the impact of climate-friendly technologies and response measures. It is submitted that the forum meets bi-annually and be open to all parties including international organisations, private sector and non-governmental organisations.
India submitted that the use of unilateral trade measures to address the effects of climate change can lead to tit-for-tat trade restrictions and retaliation by affected countries.
According to Saudi Arabia the work programme of the forum should focus on economic diversification, modelling, insurance and financial risk management, technology transfer and sustainable development.
At the conclusion of the Bonn meetings SBI and SBSTA invited all parties, including relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to submit any further views on this issue by 19 September 2011. The parties agreed that the work will continue with the goal of adopting the modalities for the operationalisation of the work programme at COP17 later this year. Questions that will be discussed at the new autumn inter-session negotiations during the last week of September and the first week of October include the possible establishment of a permanent forum, the use of existing channels to share information and different issues pertaining to response measures as barriers to trade.
UNFCCC, ICTSD, Third World Network