Working Group III: Mitigation

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6.1.3 Policy Developments since the Second Assessment Report

In December 1997, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change8 negotiated the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC, 1997). The Protocol established, for the first time, legally binding quantified emissions limitation and reduction commitments that cover the emissions of six GHGs from a wide range of sources for the period 2008 to 2012 for 38 countries and the European Economic Community (EEC; Annex I Parties). These commitments represent a 5.2% reduction from the 1990 emissions of the Annex I Parties, and a 10% to 20% reduction from their projected emissions during the 2008 to 2012 period.

Annex I Parties can meet their commitments through measures to reduce domestic emissions, specified actions to enhance domestic sinks, and co-operative action with other Parties under Articles 4, 6, 12, or 17. Article 4 allows a group of Annex I Parties to agree to reallocate their collective emissions reduction commitment and to fulfil this commitment jointly. Such an arrangement is commonly referred to as a “bubble”. The members of the EEC are the only countries, to-date, to indicate that they are likely to establish one “bubble” to meet their commitments.

Article 6 defines JI for Annex I Parties, Article 12 establishes the CDM for projects in non-Annex I countries, and Article 17 allows emissions trading, a form of tradable quota, among Annex B Parties (see Box 6.2). The principles, modalities, rules, and guidelines for these three Kyoto Protocol mechanisms remain to be finalized. The Fourth Session of Conference of the Parties (CoP4) in Buenos Aires in November 1998 adopted a Plan of Action that includes development of these principles, modalities, rules, and guidelines for adoption at CoP6 at The Hague in November 2000.9

Annex I Parties have been implementing domestic policies to address their commitment under Article 4.2 of the Convention and evaluating possible policies to meet their more stringent commitments under the Protocol, taking into account the options afforded by the Kyoto mechanisms. Annex I Parties’ national climate programmes are described in their National Communications, which are compiled by the UNFCCC Secretariat and subjected to external expert review under the Convention (UNFCCC, 1999, addenda 1-2).

Structural adjustment and energy sector reforms have been pursued in many countries. Although these are not GHG policies, they often have significant implications for GHG emissions, increasing or reducing emissions depending upon the circumstances (see Section 6.2).

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