Bonn breakthrough on Kyoto Protocol
What does it mean for Bangladesh?
Saleemul Huq
THE just concluded second half of the sixth Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany was remarkable for a number of reasons. It was the second part of an inconclusive COP6 held in the Hague in November 2000, which broke up without any decision regarding implementation of the historic Kyoto Protocol which was agreed at COP3 in 1997 where the industrialised countries undertook binding targets to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. This was largely due to the inability of the United States and Europe to agree to how to implement the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. Despite last-minute attempts to patch up a compromise they failed to do so and hence agreed to postpone the meeting to Bonn in July. However, during the intervening period another important change occurred, namely the election of George W Bush as the US president. Soon after he became president he declared the US intention to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol (despite the fact that the US had already signed it) as he felt it was "fatally flawed". This was due to two perceived problems: that it did not bind the developing countries to undertake reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and that it would be harmful to the US economy.

Thus the mood going into the second half of COP6 (called COP6-bis) was extremely pessimistic and wary by all the countries not knowing what would happen with the US refusing to take part. The meeting continued in the same gloomy mood with no sign of any movement until the end of the first week when the ministers arrived, went into intense negotiations and emerged the following Monday with an historic political agreement to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This agreement was adopted 178-0 (with the US abstaining and hence opting to stay out of the process) and is important for a number of reasons.

First, it shows the will of the world to carry out the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol even without the US (which is the world's greatest emitter of greenhouse gases). Thus despite their best efforts the US was not able to kill the Kyoto Protocol completely. It is likely to come into force by the end of 2002 as more and more countries ratify it (it requires 55 countries representing 55 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the world to ratify the protocol).

Second, it opens up a sizeable new market for carbon trading across the world. Most importantly, it opens the possibility for trading carbon emission reductions (CERs) from developing countries through the so-called clean development mechanism (CDM), which is designed to enable developing countries to trade Carbon emission reductions to developed countries.

Third, it puts in place several new special funds including one for the least developed countries (LDCs) and one for adaptation to climate change as well as for capacity building.

Finally, from Bangladesh's perspective, it opens the door to possibly substantial levels of additional funding (e.g. from CDM, adaptation, capacity building, etc). However, if Bangladesh is to take advantage of these new opportunities it will have to move quickly and with purpose, as there is no quota for Bangladesh in any of these funds - they will be disbursed on the basis of early applications in the correct format. If Bangladesh is either late in applying or cannot master the correct format then it is likely that we will not receive any of the funds at all.

Hence, to take advantage of the new developments, Bangladesh needs to make a timely and well thought-out push for additional funding in the very short term. In the longer term, it should develop its own capacity to both cope with climate change impacts (i.e. to build adaptive capacity) and also engage in the ongoing negotiations on climate change to ensure that its interest are looked after adequately in future.

Saleemul Huq is Director, Climate Change Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK.

Source: The Daily Star, August 10, 2001
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