On 17 and 18 September 1998, the United Nations University, the Global Environment Information Centre (GEIC), and the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS) hosted a workshop, "Future Scenarios for Global Climate Governance," focusing on the legal, economic, and social implications of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. The purpose of the meeting was to develop policy recommendations to governments prior to the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 4) to be held in Buenos Aires in November 1998. The meeting, attended by relevant experts, discussed the progress made in implementing the Kyoto Protocol since its adoption in December 1997 and further action needed to ensure that its goals are met.
The Kyoto Protocol, concluded on 11 December 1997, contains a number of market-based instruments referred to as "flexibility mechanisms," which are aimed at achieving the environmental goal of the treaty to prevent climate change through the use of economic forces. Key among these flexibility mechanisms contained in the Protocol are the provisions related to: 1) greenhouse gas emissions trading, 2) joint implementation of emission reductions among countries, and, 3) the Clean Development Mechanism, a scheme for assisting developing countries in taking action to prevent climate change. In the case of each of these flexibility mechanisms, the principles, rules, and guidelines for their operation are yet to be elaborated. Since the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, governments have continued to negotiate on the specifics of implementation of the flexibility mechanisms, and this will be a key area for negotiation at the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 4).
One of the key purposes of this project is to develop innovative policy options for the implementation of these flexibility mechanisms. In line with the overarching goals of this project, the meeting explored the potential roles to be played by the private sector in effective implementation of the flexibility mechanisms; the need for strong compliance and enforcement mechanisms; the linkages between international trade, investment and the Kyoto Protocol; the relationships between the climate change protocol and other environmental treaties; and the development of model contracts for carrying out climate change activities under the joint implementation scheme and the Clean Development Mechanism.
In developing future scenarios for global climate governance, the experts looked at potential conflicts between the climate change treaty and international trade, particularly in light of the treaty's emphasis on trading greenhouse gas emissions as a means of implementation. The meeting also focused on the relationship between international investment regimes and the Kyoto Protocol's provisions encouraging industrialized countries to carry out energy-efficient projects in developing countries. The critical importance of the private sector in effective implementation of the Protocol and the need for consistent rules to govern economic transactions related to climate change were also noted.
The experts at the meeting concluded that the United Nations University, through GEIC and UNU/IAS, has a critical role to play in the development of effective mechanisms for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, particularly by carrying out research in strategic areas such as the role of the private sector in preventing climate change; the linkages between trade, investment, and climate change; compliance and enforcement; and developing innovative policy scenarios and solutions for consideration by policy makers, governments, and other UN constituents.
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More details on the project are available on the GEIC homepage at http://www.geic.or.jp. Additional information is also available from:
- Global Environment Information Centre (GEIC)
- Tel.: (03) 3407–8107 Fax: (03) 3407–8164
- UNU Public Affairs Section
- Tel.: (03) 5467–1243, –1246 Fax : (03) 3406–7346