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Africa before and after the Kyoto Protocol

The Road to Buenos Aires

By Mrs R. P. Karimanzira, Deputy Director, Department of Meteorological Services, Zimbabwe


It is evident that Africa was marginalised in both the political negotiations for and the scientific assessment of climate change. Africa must now focus on new approaches that are beneficial in the process to address the urgent needs of the continent. Such basic needs include eradication of poverty through development and the transfer and adaptation of environmentally sound technologies to Africa. These opportunities must be identified and used as the launching pad for some real and achievable socio-economic advancement in Africa. The paper explores the various arguments put forward in many of the difficult negotiations up to Kyoto and the role that Africa could play as a catalyst in defining a new development paradigm that ensures equity and fairness. The paper therefore endeavours to highlight the role played by African delegations in the negotiating process, which led to the Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

1. Introduction

As far back as 1979, at the First World Climate Conference, climate change was recognised as a serious problem resulting from enhanced greenhouse effect. The impact of this could induce changes in climate that might be detrimental to the well being of humanity. Between 1980-1990 a number of conferences focused on this aspect. Furthermore, increased scientific understanding and technological advances helped to raise public and political awareness of climate change

The Second World Climate Conference (1990) and the Ministerial Declaration failed to specify any international targets for emission reduction. Nevertheless three fundamental principles on climate change were adopted.

  1. Climate change is a common concern for humanity. Importance of the equity principle in the form of common but differentiated responsibilities depending on the countries levels of development
  2. Sustainable development should be of primary concern
  3. The precautionary principle which demands action even in the face of scientific uncertainties.

Several United Nations resolutions on the protection of the environment for future generations adopted in 1989 paved the way for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Over 150 Heads of States and Governments signed this Convention which entered into force on 21 March 1994. By December of that year, five Parties had deposited their instruments of ratification with the United Nations. Mauritius and Zimbabwe were the first Parties from Africa. To date there are 175 Parties to the UNFCCC.

Since Rio, three Conferences of Parties (COPs) have been convened:

  1. COP1 (Berlin, 1995) which unanimously agreed that the commitments for developed countries contained in the UNFCCC were inadequate to reverse climate change. Hence a Berlin Mandate was launched to start negotiations for stronger commitments for developed country Parties included in Annex 1 (OECD members and former Eastern European Countries).
  2. COP2 (Geneva, 1996) took note of the Geneva Ministerial Declaration that called for Governments to conclude a Protocol or another legally binding instrument to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) including feasible and achievable time-frames and timetables to reverse the concentration levels to acceptable levels before the turn of the century.
  3. COP3 (Kyoto, 1997) adopted the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of GHGs under the UNFCCC.

In Buenos Aires (November 1998) COP4 will endeavour to jump-start the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol through the launching of a Buenos Aires Mandate to elaborate on the flexibility mechanisms. At the time of writing the possible achievements of COP4 are a figment of imagination.

2. The Scientific process

2.1 The Greenhouse Effect.

The Earth's climatic system is driven by solar energy. About two thirds of the short-wave solar radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, ocean, land, ice and biota while the remainder is radiated back by the Earth's surface and atmosphere. The Earth reflects the energy back into the atmosphere in the form of long wave infrared radiation, which is in turn absorbed by the water vapour, carbon dioxide, and other naturally occurring greenhouse gases (GHGs). These gases prevent energy from passing directly through the atmosphere. Many interacting processes transport this energy high into the atmosphere. The trapping of energy by naturally occurring GHGs is a blessing as this regulates our atmospheric temperature thus maintaining it at the comfortable levels that we enjoy. Increasing the concentration of GHGs in atmosphere artificially disturbs the natural regulatory system. If the earth's atmosphere did not contain GHGs the planet would be too cold to live on. However, if the concentrations of these gases increase, they will absorb more of the outgoing long wave infrared radiation leading to enhanced global warming. Such a warming of the atmosphere may lead to changes in the climatic patterns on a global scale.

For instance, a doubling of carbon dioxide from human activities would reduce the rate at which the atmosphere re-radiates the energy it receives from the sun. Since energy cannot just accumulate, the climate would have to adjust leading to global warming. It is this phenomenon of enhanced greenhouse gas effect that is central to the political debate under the Climate Change Convention.

The scientific assessment of climate change conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demonstrated that there is strong evidence of the increase in GHGs concentrations from ice core samples and resultant global warming. Generally temperatures throughout the world have risen by about 0.1 C per decade.

2.2 The IPCC process

Following the 1988 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 43/53 on the protection of the environment for future generations, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and teh World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in November 1988. The IPCC was mandated to assess the state of the existing knowledge about climate change, the environmental, economic and social impacts of climate change; and prepare a menu of options in response to climate change. The IPCC produced its First Assessment Report (FAR) in time for the Earth Summit in 1992. The FAR confirmed that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were 25% higher compared to pre-industrial times and rising faster and higher than at anytime in the previous 160000 years. This report provided a sound basis for negotiations for the UNFCCC.

In December 1995, the IPCC adopted its second assessment report (SAR) which concluded that, "the balance of evidence suggests that there is discernible human influence on global climate". The IPCC also projected that the frequency, complexity and extent of extreme events would increase in future if the present greenhouse concentration levels were maintained.

Thus taking advantage of advances in technology and computer power, scenarios were developed for possible climatic projections. These climate projections, developed under the IPCC process called for adoption of huge emission reductions in order to realise meaningful reversal of global warming trends and full recovery of the ecosystem consistent with the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC. Such emission reductions would have to be of the order of 60% compared to 1990 levels within the next 50 to 100 years. However, it was very clear that such reductions were neither feasible nor sustainable given the demands, by a growing global population, for delivery of goods and services. Furthermore any reduction in emissions would inevitably hurt not only producers of fossil fuels, but also producers of goods and services, and consumers alike. This therefore presented a dilemma for Governments as they tried to strike a delicate balance between industrial development and meeting the basic needs of a growing population from limited natural resources.

A special report commissioned by the IPCC to address this very concern concluded that developing countries were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially Africa. Sectors such as water resources, agriculture, industry, and health would be adversely affected. Evidence of this was already demonstrated by the famine in the Sahel region (1970s - 1980s) and the recurrent occurrences of extreme events in Sub Saharan nations in the 1980s and 1990s. Recurrent floods, droughts, pests and diseases are already a common phenomenon in Africa.

Uncertainties have been inherent to all the scientific assessments to predict future climates. These uncertainties arise mainly from computer limitations. These limitations could be adequately addressed with the availability and use of supercomputers in the near future. Improved climate models would therefore be of great benefit not only to the scientific arena but also to the policy makers who depend on these scenarios for planning purposes. Once there is confidence in the predictive capacity by the scientific community, both government and private sector will feel confident enough to divert resources in response to climate change. Since, both climate changes and abatement costs vary by region and sectors of human activity, and further that climate change damage will accrue in the decades and even centuries to come, the range of uncertainties is greatly widened. For all these reasons, climate research and climate policy formulation should develop models that approximate the interactions between climate, social and economic sub-systems. (Nature, Vol. 390, Issue 6657).

National, regional and global policies that necessarily take climate change into consideration and hence ensure reversal of the global warming trend depend, to a large extent on the ability of the scientific community to predict future climates and feasible policy responses to that phenomenon. Furthermore, it is crucial that reductions in concentrations of GHGs are addressed as early as possible in order to achieve stabilisation at a global level. (Houghton et al 1990,1995)

Policy makers are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) scheduled for publication in 2001.

2.3. Impacts of climate change

Climate has been changing since time immemorial. However, the nature and pace of such changes have been such that humanity and the ecosystems have been capable of adjusting themselves. Human beings have learnt to adapt to changes in climate by migrating, or changing their lifestyles to suit the changing environment. However, past climatic changes have occurred over centuries, thus leaving time for adaptation, while the changes experienced to date have occurred in a time span of less than a century.

The most vulnerable ecological and socio-economic systems are those with the greatest sensitivity to climate change and least able to adapt. Socio-economic systems tend to be more vulnerable in developing countries with weak agro-based economies and institutions. Communities living in arid and semi-arid lands, low-lying coastal zones, flood prone areas and small island states are generally the most vulnerable.

For most nations, the most vulnerable sectors are agriculture, water resources, human and animal health, and coastal settlements. In Africa, availability of good quality water resources could easily be the most sought after commodity in a changing climate. On another level, reduced energy generating capacity, increased human migration, poor industrial performance and reduced income for the working population as well as increased poverty will be common should the global warming trend persist. (Watson R. W. et al ,1995,1997)

3. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The UNFCCC is the centrepiece of global efforts to combat global warming. Its ultimate objective is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

The convention was guided by two basic principles:

  1. The precautionary principle which implies that uncertainties should not be the reason for non-action and that responses which are economically feasible, environmentally sound and sustainable must be applied.
  2. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities which calls for developed countries to take the lead in combating climate change taking into account their economic situation, starting points and ability to respond.

There are other principles dealing with the special needs of developing countries. These include, the eradication of poverty, socio-economic development, basic infrastructures, improved education and health, and so on. In order to achieve these goals, developed countries were urged to assist developing countries in realising their right to socio-economic development through deliberate support for transfers of environmentally sound technologies and know-how, access to financial resources to acquire these technologies, training and public awareness programmes.

In order to ascertain compliance, all nations would be expected to submit their national communications starting with those from developed countries and then followed by developing countries. Submissions from developing countries depended on the availability of financial resources and transfer of the necessary technologies. As at December 1997, only six Non-Annex 1 Parties including Zimbabwe were either finalising or had submitted their full initial communications. The main limiting factor that remains is the slow disbursement of funds by the interim financial mechanism, the Global Environment Fund (GEF).

4. Climate Change Convention and developing countries

On the whole developing countries are responsible for only 25% of global emissions to sustain 75% of global population. Developed countries on the other hand contribute 75% of global emissions to sustain only 25% of global population. The North's unsustainable development patterns and lifestyles drive the latter.

Africa contributes less than 1% of global emissions. Its interest therefore cannot be to reduce emissions but rather to increase these through economic development consistent with the provisions of the Convention. Africa is the region that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as the conclusions of the IPCC Special Report on Regional Impacts of Climate change indicate.

Developing countries generally view greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries as a result of luxury emissions while their own are survival emissions. While the former generally originate from industrial activities driven by the unsustainable consumption patterns of the North, the latter come from agriculture activities which are inefficient and energy intensive. It is for this reason that the Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are viewed as responses to impacts of choice rather than necessity or survival. Hence in all the considerations of the implementation of these legal instruments, it is evident that the starting points are very different.

4.1 National realities

The North and South are governed by certain national realities. On the one hand, there are those nations of the South that do not contribute any significant amounts of GHGs emissions and yet suffer greatly from the impacts of climate change, be they direct or indirect. Those nations most vulnerable to the direct impact of sea level rise and destruction of low-lying island states and coastal zones have been the advocates for urgent and drastic reduction targets to ensure their survival as nations. This group argues vehemently that adaptation mechanisms are a priority, a view that is not appreciated by some developed country Parties.

There is another category of nations that demand that a thorough analysis of the possible impacts of the implementation of the Convention on developing country economies should be conducted. In this category are those nations whose economies are highly dependent on the export on fossil fuel.

Lastly, there are the countries with fast growing economies that are doing everything possible to join the OECD while at the same time trying to avoid taking up obligations for Annex 1 Parties. It is this last group that Annex 1 Parties insist must take up new commitments to address climate change since their GHG emission trends are disturbingly higher than the rest of the OECD countries.

The above argument is against the background that the per capita emissions of the North are so large that for the globe to recover, these nations may have to be compelled to stop their emissions outright or adopt reduction targets significant enough to make an impact on the GHG concentrations.

It is evident that priorities differ from country to country and from region to region. Sometimes national priorities cannot be placed above international focus aimed at responding to global warming. And yet, the desire to meet the basic needs and aspirations of the common people remains the national priority of all developing countries. However, in a world that is increasingly placing environmental considerations foremost in policy formulation, African nations must therefore endeavour to identify opportunities that the Climate Convention provides and exploit these in the interest of socio-economic development.

4.2 Technology transfer

In order for Governments to meet the development needs of its people there has to be a deliberate effort to access technologies from the North and adapt these to suit the ailing industries in the South. However, it is recognised that these technologies are in private hands. Hence negotiations should start soon to remove the existing barriers hindering speedy transfer and adaptation of appropriate technologies especially for the benefit of developing countries. In this case relevant training programmes need to be put in place for this purpose.

4.3 Financial resources

Associated with transfer of technologies, is the need for adequate and predictable financial resources to acquire these. The Convention adopted the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as its interim financial mechanism. However the procedures to access these funds have been very cumbersome and hence the disbursement has been slow. It is for that reason that other new arrangements have to be agreed upon. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been established by the COP3 under its Article 12 to encourage sustainable development in developing countries while at the same meeting national emission reduction requirements under the Convention. It remains to be seen how the governance, additonality criteria and resource mobilisation for the CDM can be achieved. Furthermore the links between the CDM and the ODA funds would have to be established.

Other opportunities are available to countries for both technology transfer and financial resources under the so-called flexibility mechanisms. Of these, the proposed Joint Implementation (JI) regime planned for the next millennium provides the greatest potential. However, to date, JI has failed to attract the necessary backing from developing countries particularly from Africa. This is so because the range of projects by country, sector and duration has been so limited that the experience gained, so far, could not be used as a basis for broad acceptance of the regime. The full discussion of JI will be covered in section 6.1.

4.4 Poverty eradication

Poverty eradication is the fundamental objective of each and every Government of the South. Such an objective is achievable through improvement in the economic base by expansion of the industrial sectors. With the difficulties being encountered in trying to achieve sustainable socio-economic development, it is necessary to expand those income-generating sectors that are not climate and weather sensitive. It is only through such industrial expansion that employment creation can be achieved. Success in job creation would lead to improvement in the standard of living of the common person and to poverty alleviation.

4.5 Employment creation

Linked to the transfer of technology and financial resources, industrial expansion would lead to employment creation and increased earning capacity of local communities thus working towards the eradication of poverty. As indicated above, it is the responsibility of Governments to exploit any opportunities that present themselves to create jobs to reduce civil unrest while at the same time providing incomes to families. The ability of communities to respond to the impacts of any catastrophe would primarily depend on the capacity of that community to act unilaterally prior to the inflow of external assistance. Governments therefore attach great importance to this aspect in national planning and use this as a measure of national stability.

5. The Conference of Parties 3 - Kyoto Protocol

The COP3 marked the conclusion of the Berlin Mandate Process whose aim was to negotiate a Protocol or another legal instrument to strengthen the commitments for developed country Parties. The Kyoto Protocol contains verifiable commitments by industrialised countries to reduce their emission below 1990 levels by early next century. On average reductions ranged from stabilisation to 8% compared to 1990 levels for the commitment period 2008-2012.

The underlying essence of the entire negotiations was the need for political will to reach an agreement on stronger commitments for developed country Parties that would lead to the realisation of the ultimate objective of the Convention

At every stage of the negotiations, developing countries rejected the idea suggested by some key developed countries to entice developing countries to take up new commitments for emission reduction under the Protocol. Their view was that it should not the preoccupation of developing countries to reduce emissions but rather to ensure that their economies must grow through emission increases thus leading to creation of jobs and poverty eradication. In fact, the developed countries were reminded of the fact that, even with limited resources, developing countries had in fact recorded greater average reduction in energy intensity per GDP than did Annex 1 Parties. At the same time Annex 1 Parties had a growth rate in emission of 1% per year since 1990.

5.1 Quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QELROS)

As indicated above the issue of determining the level of emission reductions in a legally binding instrument was at the heart of the negotiations. A number of questions needed to be addressed. Issues of coverage, gas by gas approach, basket approach, base year, commitment period, banking, borrowing, use of global warming potential etc.

The basket of gases including CO2, CH4, and N2O with the remaining three HFCs, PFCs and SF6 to be phased out by a given date were finally agreed upon. The use of global warming potentials was rejected, as it would only be used as a loophole by developed countries to delay the reduction of CO2 and other gases in the initial basket.

Possibilities to engage in Joint Implementation (JI) activities with credits were agreed to for the first commitment period.

The main features of the Kyoto Protocol adopted on 11 December 1997 are:

  • Average global emission reduction by 38 developed country Parties and countries in transition by at least 5% below 1990 levels, particularly

  • 8% by the European Union
  • 7% by USA
  • 6% by Japan
  • Reduction to apply to all six gases :CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6.

  • Inclusion among the cuts of net changes in GHGs from sources and removals by sinks resulting from direct human induced land-use change and forestry activities, limited to afforestation, reforestation and deforestation since 1990, measured as verifiable changes in stocks.

  • The commitment period will be 2008 to 2012

  • Each party included in Annex 1 shall by 2005 have made demonstrable progress in achieving its commitments made under the Protocol.

  • Acceptance of emission trading, joint implementation among the Annex 1 Parties

  • Establishment of a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to assist developing countries in achieving their sustainable development goals and in meeting the ultimate objective of the Convention as well as to assist Annex 1 Parties in achieving compliance with their QELROS under Article 3 of the Protocol.

  • Complete absence of a compliance mechanism

5.2 Policies and Measures (PAMs)

In order for Parties to achieve their obligations under both the Convention and Protocol, they are required to adopt domestic policies and measures that would provide a conducive environment for each Party to meet its specified quantified emission and reduction objectives. Such policies and measures would be in accordance with each Party's national circumstances. Article 2 of the Protocol details those policies and measures which include enhancement of energy efficiency in relevant sectors, enhancement of sinks and reservoirs of GHGs, promotion of sustainable agriculture, research on and promotion of new and renewable energy sources, limitation of GHGs not controlled by the Montreal Protocol particularly in the transport sector.

6. Flexibility mechanisms

Throughout the negotiations, discussions on flexibility mechanisms that took full cognisance of differences in national starting points and the economic difficulties that Governments in the North would face in implementing their obligations under the convention were introduced from time to time. At every point there was complete rejection from developing countries. Joint Implementation (JI) and Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ), emission trading including hot air trading, Clean development mechanism were some of the innovative mechanisms put forward for consideration by developed country Parties.

6.1 Joint Implementation (JI) and Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ).

Joint Implementation is a regime introduced by the Norwegian Government during the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) preparatory stage of the Rio Earth Summit. This arrangement is stated in the UNFCCC Art 4.2(a) as a mechanism whereby developed countries would be allowed to choose to reduce their national emissions through actions implemented abroad preferably in developing countries where emission reduction initiatives are cheaper. This concept introduced the element of cost effectiveness in emission reduction activities. However, this did not imply that national activities were in any way diminished. JI would remain only supplemental to national initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, a number of concerns have been raised primarily by developing countries. The fear among developing countries being that this new development regime would end up as another way of creating dependency on developed countries in the form of environmental colonialism. Furthermore, the range of projects by country and by sector remains very limited thus not allowing policy makers and negotiators to form a reasoned opinion on the benefit of such a regime in both developed and developing countries. It is for that reason that at COP1 Parties took a decision to undertake a Pilot Phase for JI with a review by COP5 or before the year 2000. This phase was known as the Pilot Phase of the Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ).

As indicated above, experience in AIJ has been gained in Central America, USA and a few European countries. The World Bank has shown an interest by funding some projects in Burkina Faso. It remains to be seen how effective the World Bank initiative would evolve and what implications this would have on other multilateral funding agencies.

6.2. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

The Kyoto Protocol established a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under its Article 12. The CDM provides, and credits collaborative projects between developing countries and developed countries. The elements of this Article were based on a Brazilian proposal that realised that, in the absence of a fund under the direct control of the Convention and a strict compliance mechanism, the implementation of the convention by developing countries would not be realised. CDM is therefore an instrument aimed at fostering co-operation between developed countries and developing countries. Under this arrangement certified emission reductions are achieved through projects in developing countries. These projects will allow the attainment of sustainable development in developing countries thus meeting the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The criteria and modalities for a fully operational CDM regime remain unclear as this mechanism is viewed, by many, as another version of the JI/AIJ with credits prematurely granted before the review at COP5. Having stated this, it is appreciated that the CDM would benefit both developing countries through the implementation of project activities and developed countries being able to certify their emission reductions generated through specified projects. While developed country Parties would claim credits for the reductions, it remains unclear whether developing would gain from reductions realised within their own countries. Clear definitions of sustainable development indices still need to be established together with indices for environmental and economic additionality to sustainable development over and above that which would have been obtained without the specific projects. The differences between the JI/AIJ and the CDM regimes need further clarification.

At present, Parties in Africa have not yet formed a reasoned opinion on the CDM. Nevertheless, negotiators are actively participating in the preparatory workshops and seminars prior to COP4. The general view is that the CDM does provide an opportunity for sustainable development goals for Africa. An opportunity worth paying serious attention to provided that issues related to transparency, efficiency and accountability through independent audit and verification of projects are clarified. Certified emission reductions would be assessed for their benefits to establish whether they are real, measurable, long-term, and additional in mitigating climate change.

6.3 Emission Trading including Hot Air Trading

Realising that most developing countries still have environmental space available to them, developed countries put forward a proposal to acquire some of this space for an agreed sum of money. Developed countries envisaged that the South would welcome this proposal, as it would give them the most sought for commodity - financial resources to meet development needs. Another dimension anticipated was the trade in emissions among developed countries. Examples of these scenarios existed between the Eastern European States and the rest of the OECD. Further to the collapse of the Eastern European economies, their GHG emissions equally collapse thus realising a surplus in emissions, a commodity that is high in demand.

These opportunities are readily available between the Russian Federation and the USA to start trade in this space - hot air trading. Hot Air Trading arrangement, if it were embraced by the UNFCCC under the Kyoto Protocol, would not be acceptable to developing countries. This regime would delay the global response to climate change while at the same time maintaining status quo among those countries with high emission levels such the United States to maintain status quo. What developing countries would be satisfied with would be an urgent response to global warming and reduction in their vulnerability to extreme events triggered by this phenomenon.

Many discussions have been convened with industry and governments to launch a market for trading in greenhouse gas allowances and reduction credits by the turn of the century thus contributing to the early and effective implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. UNCTAD is particularly keen to launch this regime albeit without agreed guidelines and methodologies to monitor the effective implementation of the Climate Convention.

Africa has viewed these Emission Trading arrangements with suspicion. The reason being that in-depth review of initial communications from Annex 1 Parties demonstrate that there is no obvious positive trend in North-South resource or technology flows to demonstrate the effective implementation of the UNFCCC let alone the Kyoto Protocol. The call by all developing countries is an indication of the willingness of Annex 1 Parties to meet their obligations under the convention first before any flexibility mechanisms can be considered.

Emission Trading is contained under Article 16 of the Protocol. While it is a relatively short article, with only three sentences, the issue of emissions trading represents one of the most significant results of Kyoto as seen by the developed country Parties. From the foregoing, it is clear that a lot of work needs to be done as Parties are still not able to agree to any specific framework under which trading should take place. Issues such as governance of the regime and methodological matters would need elaboration. As in the case with Articles on JI between developed country Parties and CDM, emissions trading must, of necessity, be only supplemental to domestic actions that Parties take in meeting their national obligations under both the Convention and Protocol.

The final and most crucial issue is the establishment of emission allowances. Developing country Parties took strong exception to sticking to national reduction targets but rather that this is based on global emission per capita entitlements whose aggregate determines the national target. This regime would introduce a fair and equitable system of addressing trading system. As African delegations stated at the Eighth session of the Berlin Mandate in October 1997 that, until there was global agreement on i) allocation of entitlements, preferably on a per capita basis, ii) a defined global cap on emissions and related concentrations and iii) an agreed timetable to contract and converge to the global cap, any emission trading regime would be established on an uneven playing field.

6.4 Loopholes in the Protocol

A number of loopholes were identified in the Protocol. The major loopholes were I) clear absence of a compliance mechanism in both the Convention and the Protocol; ii) absence of definite means of financial resources necessary to support developing countries to meet their own obligations under the Convention. Although the Clean development Mechanism was established, iii) there was no incentive apart from the introduction of JI between Parties. The resultant conditionalities in resource flows from North to South remained a major concern for developing countries. Other mechanisms such as iv) hot air trading between the OECD and Eastern European countries were not only a threat to north-south financial resource flows but also to the very essence of responses to global warming. It is for these reasons that the African states called for the development of guiding principles to govern any form of trade in this invisible commodity, GHGs emissions.

7. UNFCCC and the Kyoto protocol - Africa position

In August 1997 at the eighth session of AGBM, five months before the COP3 in Kyoto, the Africa Group of Parties made an historic intervention by declaring the basic principles that should govern the reduction of emission by both developed and developing countries. This proposal ensured that equity and the principle of the common but differentiated responsibilities was adhered to by all. The statement read as follows;

The Africa Group, believe that there should be certain principles that needs to be clearly defined.

First, there must be limits on all greenhouse gases if the danger to our climate is to be averted. The IPCC scientific assessment report provides us with the basis for global consensus on such limits.

Second, a globally agreed ceiling of GHG emissions can only be achieved by adopting the principle of per capita emissions rights that fully take into account the reality of population growth and the principle of differentiation.

Third, achievement of a safe limit to global GHG emissions can be achieved by reducing the emissions of Annex 1 Parties while at the same time ensuring that there is controlled growth of emissions from non-Annex 1 Parties, reflecting our legitimate right to sustainable development. Such a convergence must ensure that we maintain a global ceiling on emissions to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

Fourth, when we look at time frames, we believe that insufficient commitment by Annex 1 countries will only result in delaying our influence on the climate system. If this course is maintained, then we will all suffer and the burden will even be greater for humanity in general. The burden for any future mitigation efforts on those of us who have not been historically and currently responsible for creating the problem will be even greater. Mr. Chairman, we recognized that per capita emission rights, as a form of differentiation is not an easy goal. It calls for deliberate actions to attain reduction targets over time by Annex 1 Parties and sustainable growth in non-Annex 1 Parties."

This was the most profound stand taken by a group of non-Annex 1 Parties to promote the concept of equity and address the issue of differentiation in a tangible manner by defining an essential yardstick for the distribution of emission entitlements for all Parties.

The position remained central to the negotiations for the Protocol. Most of the participating Parties from Africa found it difficult to find a clear stand in the Climate Convention since the region, as a whole, only contributes a mere 0.1% of global emissions. Africa was determined to safeguard its right to development by ensuring that any response measures taken by Annex 1 Parties in achieving their QELROS through Policies and Measures (PAMs) did not, in any way, affect their socio-economic development, the only vehicle available to Africa to eradicate poverty.

8. Ratification process

Consistent with the provisions of the Protocol under Article 24, the legal text would be open for signature in New York from 16 March 1998 to 15 March 1999. The Protocol would enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date on which not less than 55 Parties to the Convention, incorporating Parties included in Annex 1 which in total form at least 55% of the total CO2 for 1990, have deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN Secretariat.

Against this background, differences of opinion and suspicions on various remain on key issues such as JI/AIJ; emission trading; CDM; the absence of agreed methodologies and guidelines on many aspects of the Protocol; global economic difficulties and the different starting points; collapse of some key global economies; the Protocol is likely to attract limited interest among Parties beyond this point. It is therefore anticipated that the ratification process would be slow. This would be particularly so, for those Parties that have a lot to lose politically and those who, for one reason or another, may feel that by ratifying the Protocol they may be presumed to have opted to be bound by the commitment under the Protocol.

The African perspective of this Protocol could begin to make some sense with the realization of their socio-economic development needs through technology transfer and access to predictable, timely and reliable financial resources. There are only a handful of nations from Africa that could qualify to accede to the Protocol on the basis of their per capita emission levels. However, the express interest in the process will remain that of developing a fair and equitable system of emission allotments upon which all other flexibility measures could be based on.

9. Conclusion

The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC provides a potential breakthrough in the development of an effective global policy for the control of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and mitigation of man-induced global climate change. However, the levels of reduction shown in Table 1 do not reflect the urgency with which such reductions must be taken. Whereas, IPCC scientific assessment called for at least 60% reduction in order to reverse the global warming, and the EU proposed calls for 15% emission reduction, the AOSIS countries called for 20% reduction, the Protocol only managed to get agreement for reductions of between 5% and 8% by Annex 1 Parties over their 1990 GHG emissions levels. Countries such as Russian Federation, New Zealand and Australia were granted stabilization and growth beyond the 1990 levels. Furthermore, the initial commitment period was set at between 2008 to 2012 at least a decade after the return date called for under the UNFCCC. Further, the Protocol is silent on a compliance mechanism implying that countries may indeed adopted a wait-and -see attitude to the implementation of the legal agreement.

On the whole the Protocol was a compromise whose ratification by some key developed country Parties remains dependent on the full participation of emerging developing countries like India, China and Brazil to name but a few. This position will continue to be the point of disagreement between developed and developing countries.

Given the divergence in approach between developing and developed countries, the contraction and convergence of global emissions based on a per capita entitlement argued by the Africa Group should provide a way out. Further attention of this approach needs development, preferably with the urgent introduction of relevant decisions, for consideration at COP4. The new development paradigm of the next millennium, one that takes environmental considerations in policy formulation, can only be acceptable if the questions of equity and fairness are fully taken care of. Hence there is an urgent need to review both the Protocol and UNFCCC to include contraction and convergence as the only acceptable basis for meaningful consideration and implementation of the Convention and Protocol.

Finally, Africa must take this time to identify development opportunities that emerge from the implementation of the Climate Convention. At the heart of this process is the manner in which nations shall achieve sustainable development pathways for the future. Access to technologies and the relevant resources to acquire these must be vigorously pursued. The bottom line is that development needs of Africa are not negotiable and cannot be compromised.