July 20, 2001 – On the fifth day of the talks, there are some tentative signs of progress. The European Union and G77 group in particular seem to be drawing closer together on key issues, starting with the key issue of finance.

The group on funding has agreed to the setting up of the Adaptation Fund, but questions remain about who will contribute, whether contributions are mandatory and even if they are mandatory, whether there will be penalties for non-payment! The Special Climate Change Fund is less certain, with Ministers still to decide whether it should go ahead and whether it should be managed by the GEF.

The negotiating group on compliance issues has boiled the issues down to two key issues for Ministers to resolve – the consequences to be applied and the composition of the compliance committee. The consequences options still include an option for sanctions that are not legally binding. On technology transfer, issues outstanding are the amount of money involved and the nature the expert group that would be required. G77 countries want the group to consist of Government representatives, industrialised countries prefer a group of technical experts.

A key question remains whether Japan will agree to ratify the Kyoto Protocol without US involvement. There has been a three-way division inside the Japanese Government between the Foreign Ministry – concerned about US-Japanese relations, the Environment Ministry – supporting ratification, and the Industry Ministry – taking a traditional pro-fossil fuel business line. Environment Minister Kawaguchi insists that she has a full mandate to reach agreement in Bonn. Yesterday she stated Japan’s commitment to ratification in 2002, and this message was explicitly confirmed by Prime Minister Koizumi yesterday at the G8 summit in Genoa.

The Expanded Bureau (the Chairman’s steering committee for the talks) decided this morning on the process for completing the negotiations. They have established a group of 35 ministers representing the regional groupings, chaired by President Pronk and reporting each day to plenary sessions. The group has the power to set up smaller contact groups on issues as appropriate. The Bureau has also decided to set up a new subject group to negotiate rules on monitoring, verification and compliance.

New Zealand and Norway have broken with the Umbrella Group of countries in strongly opposing the inclusion of nuclear power in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). So far, these countries have been supported by the EU, under pressure from anti-nuclear countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Greece. However, concern remains that the EU may make concessions on this point, particularly in order to retain support for the Protocol from Russia. The EU and Russia have been in detailed discussions about a Green Investment Scheme, to receive the proceeds of Russia’s emissions trading, including any trading between Russia and parties which do not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The Russian energy sector requires investment of at least $40 billion over the next five years and up to $500 billion by 2020. It appears, however, that nuclear projects could be included under those eligible for funding from the scheme, which would be managed by an autonomous Environmental Investment Agency governed by a board composed of the Economy and Development Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Natural Resources Ministry.

Weak rules are being discussed for Environmental Impact Assessments for projects under the CDM. There are no common criteria suggested for these assessments; it would be left to the host country for the projects to conduct them according to their own procedures. As yet, there are no rules requiring public participation in the assessments.

Commenting on the progress of the talks, Friends of the Earth Environment Campaigner Kate Hampton said: “The chances of a positive outcome in Bonn have risen somewhat over the last few days. The Japanese Government seems to have realised that it cannot afford to be seen as the wreckers of the Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand and Norway are beginning to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Umbrella Group.

It may be that politicians are beginning to realize the extent of public anger that would follow a failure in Bonn. We hope and demand that countries still trying to weaken the Protocol will stop their destructive behaviour and work in good faith to reach agreement.”

Message from FoE Australia
While the official Australian delegation obstructs progress on the Kyoto Protocol, environmental and social justice groups will hold a variety of actions and street theatre events around the country this Sunday, July 22nd to call attention to Australia’s dismal performance.

From the Climate Ark and flotilla in Melbourne to the “Other Umbrella Group” meeting in Adelaide, the message will be the same: Australia should commit to a fair and equitable Kyoto Protocol. A recent survey showed that 80% of Australians want the Kyoto Protocol ratified without the United States if necessary. The impacts of climate change are one of the biggest threats facing our nearest neighbours in the South Pacific and other vulnerable non-industrialised countries around the world.

Contact: Bruce Thompson, Friends of the Earth Australia, 00 61 417 318 368

Ian Willmore 0174 160 4808 or 00 44 7887 641 344
Howard Mollett 00 41 792 160 206
Daniel Mittler (Lifeboat) 0173 923 4747