We would like to introduce you to a new information service provided by the Third World Network, on issues relating to climate change.

Under this Info Service, we will be sending out (via email) news and analysis on a range of issues relating to climate issues. This will include developments in the science, in development aspects, on various initiatives and meetings, as well as the negotiations under the UNFCCC.

The aim of this information service is to make available news and analysis (provided by TWN staff and advisors as well as many other sources including NGOs and experts) on these issues.

This service is initiated in the awareness that climate change is a major problem, and that action to tackle this problem is now urgent and is a major priority on the international policy agenda.

Recipients of this service will include NGOs, academics, policy makers and international agencies.

The materials provided through this service will also be available on the TWN website,

We are pleased to provide below the first two mailouts that have been sent. Please inform us if you would like to receive future mailouts from this service.

With best wishes,
Martin Khor
Third World Network


TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept07/01)
7 September 2007
Third World Network


The UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held a meeting in Vienna on 27-31 August 2007. The meeting was known as the Vienna Climate Talks and comprised two events: a session of the Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG) on further commitments of Annex I parties; and a session of the Dialogue on Longterm Cooperative Action to address climate change. The AWG came up with Conclusions that recognized recent scientific data that global emissions of Greenhouse Gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels - well below half the levels in 2000 by the middle of this century.

It also agreed to initially consider an emission reduction range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries.

This range would be part of a set of information that the Group considered as "providing useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions."

The Vienna meeting was setting a foundation for a series of meetings later this year, in which the battle on reduction commitments will really begin.

Chief among these are Bali meetings of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol in December.

In the run-up to the Bali meetings will be a number of other high-level climate-related events, including the UN Secretary-General's "high-level event" in New York on 24 September.

Below is a report of the Vienna Climate Talks. It was published in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) on 4 Sept. 2007, and it is circulated here with permission of the SUNS.

We hope you find it useful.

With best wishes
Martin Khor

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Vienna Climate meeting "recognizes" initial emission-reduction ranges
Published in SUNS #6317 dated 4 September 2007

By Martin Khor (TWN), Vienna, 1 Sept 2007

A United Nations meeting on climate change in Vienna has recognized recent scientific data that global emissions of Greenhouse Gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels - well below half the levels in 2000 by the middle of this century.

The meeting on 27-31 August, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in effect started a negotiation on how much the developed countries will have to commit to cut their emissions, in order to avoid a catastrophic warming of the world's temperature.

After several days of negotiations in open-ended as well as small groups, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol agreed to initially consider an emission reduction range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries.

This range would be part of a set of information that the Group considered as "providing useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions."

An earlier draft of the conclusions, which was supported by the European Union, adopted this range as an initial indicative range of emission reduction commitments. However, it was rejected by other developed countries, including Japan, Canada and Russia. The softer language of its being a "useful initial parameter" was finally adopted as a compromise.

The Vienna meeting was setting a foundation for a series of meetings later this year, in which the battle on reduction commitments will really begin.

The Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG), chaired by Mr. Leon Charles of Grenada, was holding its fourth session in Vienna, as a prelude to full meetings of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol in Bali on 3-11 December. The AWG will continue its fourth session in Bali.

The Bali meetings will be a crucial milestone in getting countries to launch negotiations to combat climate change in the period after 2012, when the present phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

In the run-up to the Bali meetings will be a number of other high-level climate-related events in various formats. The UN Secretary-General is convening a "high-level event" in New York on 24 September at which many heads of government are expected to attend.

This year's UN General Assembly session will highlight the climate change issue. Environment Ministers of the G8 and selected developing countries will also meet in Berlin next week under the G8 umbrella.

At these meetings, the most contentious issue is expected to be whether only developed countries (listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC) are to commit to emission reductions, as in the present Kyoto Protocol system, or whether developing countries (or some of them) should join in for the first time.

The mandate of the AWG is confined to discussing further emission-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, for developed countries, listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC.

The outcome of the Vienna meeting of the AWG was a document entitled "Analysis of mitigation potentials and identification of ranges of emission: Draft conclusions proposed by the Chair."

According to the document, the AWG noted that the mitigation potential of Annex I Parties is determined by national circumstances and evolves over time. It also noted that the specific factors and indicators relevant to the determination of the mitigation potential and to the identification of ranges of emission reduction objectives of Annex I Parties vary among these Parties.

The AWG acknowledged that understanding mitigation potential is a complex process and noted that further analysis would be helpful. It invited Annex I Parties to continue to work on the analysis of the mitigation potential of policies, measures and technologies at their disposal.

The AWG recognized that the contribution of Working Group III to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) "indicates that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000 by the middle of the twenty-first century in order to stabilize their concentrations in the atmosphere at the lowest levels assessed by the IPCC to date in its scenarios. Hence, the urgency to address climate change."

In its crucial and lengthy paragraph 7, the Conclusions stated: "The AWG noted the usefulness of the ranges referred to in the AR4. Recognizing the outcomes of the contribution of Working Group II to the AR4, on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation, the AWG also noted that the lower the stabilization level achieved, the lower the consequent damages.

"The AWG recognized that the contribution of Working Group III to the AR4 indicates that achieving the lowest stabilization level assessed by the IPCC to date and its corresponding potential damage limitation would require Annex I Parties as a group to reduce emissions in a range of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, through means that may be available to Annex I Parties to reach the emission reduction targets. These ranges are drawn from box 13.7 in the report of Working Group III.

"Furthermore, these ranges would be significantly higher for Annex I Parties if they were a result of analysis assuming that emission reductions were to be undertaken exclusively by Annex I Parties. The AWG noted that the IPCC ranges do not take into account lifestyle changes which have the potential of increasing the reduction range.

"The AWG also recognized that achievement of these reduction objectives by Annex I Parties would make an important contribution to overall global efforts required to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention, as set out in its Article 2."

In paragraph 8, the AWG noted the concerns raised by small island developing States and some developing countries with regard to the lack of analysis of stabilization scenarios below 450 ppm CO2 equivalent, which corresponds to the lowest range (outlined in paragraph 7 above) and in this context, noted the possibility for further scientific work in this regard.

In paragraph 9, the Conclusions stated that: "In line with the iterative approach of its work programme, the AWG considered that the information referred to in paragraph 7 above provides useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emission reductions by Annex I Parties, and would be reviewed at future sessions in the light of information it would receive, including information referred to in paragraph 8 above."

In subsequent paragraphs, the AWG also noted that a greater mitigation potential is at the disposal of Annex I Parties through the wider use of flexibility mechanisms, taking fully into account sustainable development considerations.

The AWG acknowledged the importance of considering further information on indicative ranges of emission reductions by Annex I Parties, including quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments, for further commitments pursuant to Article 3, paragraph 9, of the Kyoto Protocol and in accordance with decision 1/CMP. 1, through their domestic and international efforts.

The AWG also acknowledged the importance of receiving information on the potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects on all Parties, in particular, developing country Parties, of available tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties. The AWG invited Annex I Parties to include in their submissions due on 15 February 2008 information on these issues.

The AWG also invited Parties to submit to the secretariat by 9 November 2007 their views on the development of a timetable to guide the completion of its work.

At the start of the AWG meeting, the UNFCCC secretariat presented a new technical paper on "Synthesis of information relevant to the determination of the mitigation potential and to the identification of possible ranges of emission reduction objectives of Annex I Parties." (FCCC/TP/2007/1).

The paper contains an important table on emission stabilization scenarios (compiled from IPCC data) providing six scenarios linked to different concentrations of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere (measured in CO2 equivalent). The scenarios range from 445-490 ppm in the lowest category to 855-1,130 ppm in the highest category.

For each category of Greenhouse Gas concentration, corresponding data is given on global mean temperature increase (above the pre-industrial level), required reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2050 (compared to 2000 levels), range of reduction in GDP in 2050 because of mitigation, allowed emissions by Annex I Parties in 2020 (percentage change from 1990 emissions) and allowed emissions by Annex I Parties in 2050 (percentage change from 1990 emissions).

For example, for the lowest category, the scenario is that a 445-490 ppm CO2 equivalent concentration of Greenhouse Gas would be linked to a 2.0-2.4 degree Centigrade rise in temperature; a 50-85% cut in global CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2000; a 5.5% decrease in GDP in 2050 because of mitigation (explained as 0.12% loss per year until 2050); a 25-40% emission cut by Annex I Parties in 2020 compared to 1990 levels; and a 80-95% emission cut by Annex I Parties in 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

The set of data in this table was the most significant by far in guiding the discussions at the AWG in Vienna, and can be expected to be prominent in the future negotiations.

Many delegations at Vienna made use of this lowest-category scenario (linked to 450 ppm) as the most acceptable to target for, and they argued for a related 2 degree Centigrade limit to temperature rise, as well as the 25-40% emission reduction range for Annex I Parties by 2020.

However, coordinators of the small island developing states stressed that even a 2 degree temperature rise would be disastrous for them, and called for studies and scenarios to be developed for ranges below 450 ppm (which had not been covered by the IPCC reports). This request was included in the Conclusions.

Several developed countries, including Canada and Japan, were however reluctant to already adopt the 25-40% range as the explicit starting point in the negotiations.

Besides the AWG session, the Vienna meeting also included a session of the Convention Dialogue, which is a series of workshops to enable delegations to share views in an informal non-negotiations setting.

The Vienna dialogue was on the theme "Long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention." The dialogue had three sessions on the sub-themes - building blocks for long-term cooperative action, finance, and next steps.

The dialogue gave an opportunity for delegations to speak generally on present problems as well as "building blocks", with much of the focus being on the post-2012 climate regime, and the negotiations towards that regime, which the Bali meetings are expected to launch.

Delegates also debated whether the Dialogue process should continue in Bali and after, or whether it should be transformed into a formal negotiating process on the post-2012 regime. There was no decision on this in Vienna.

The co-facilitators of the Dialogue, Sandea de Wet (South Africa) and Howard Bamsey (Australia) were requested to prepare a factual report of the Dialogue, without providing Conclusions either of the meeting or of the Chairs, to be presented to the Bali meeting.

The Vienna meeting also saw active participation of many environmental and development NGOs. There were also business representatives, with the renewable energy business sector being prominent. +


TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept07/02)
7 September 2007
Third World Network


At the UNFCCC Vienna Climate Talks, the Third World Network presented a statement on 29 August 2007, during the session on Dialogue on long-term cooperation to address climate change.

The statement, presented by TWN Director Martin Khor, focused on the theme of building blocks for cooperation. It touched on four issues -- science and targets; North-South relations between developed and developing countries; the need to link development and environment; and policy coherence.

Below is the statement.

With best wishes
Martin Khor



Statement by Martin Khor on behalf of the Third World Network at the Dialogue Plenary Session at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Vienna climate talks, 29 August 2007

The Third World Network (TWN) would like to make a statement from a developing-country civil society perspective, which combines environment and development concerns.

This is a significant moment for clarifying the issues that will be crucial at the Bali meetings this December which will hopefully launch negotiations and a roadmap for global action to combat climate change, especially in the post-2012 period.

It is thus useful to consider the “building blocks” required for such global action, and especially for a framework or regime to guide activities after the expiry in 2012 of the first period of commitments of the Kyoto Protocol.

In the conceptualisation of a climate regime that is equitable and fair, it is important to put forward perspectives that promote the environment and development interests of the developing countries.

From this viewpoint, there are at least four important building blocks towards a post-2012 UNFCCC climate regime – science and targets; North-South relations between developed and developing countries; the need to link development and environment; and policy coherence.

First, on science and targets. Developments in the science of climate change have progressed recently so that there is broad consensus that the climate problem is real and serious, and that developing countries will be most affected.

There is a need to set targets for global action, such as to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade (in fact, well below that), and to prevent Greenhouse Gas concentration from exceeding 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent. Even at these levels, there will be great damage. At levels higher than these, scientists inform us that the damage will be catastrophic.

However, the establishment of such science-based targets has to be linked to agreement on “burden-sharing” principles, particularly as between North and South.

Second, therefore, is the crucial building block of fair North-South relations in a climate agreement. The UNFCCC and Kyoto principles of equity, historical responsibility, and common but differentiated responsibilities have to be re-affirmed and, more importantly, operationalised in concrete terms and measures to be worked out.

Indeed, these principles must be infused into all aspects of the negotiations and reflected in the agreements to be made.

The implications for developing countries of proposals on global targets should be more explicitly discussed. For example, the European Union (EU) has made a proposal for a global emission cut of 50% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels) and a cut of 60-80% for developed countries.

It is good that the EU has started the ball rolling by putting forward these proposals and figures. Of course it is only a start and the EU and other developed-country parties must be expected to improve on their proposed commitments.

However, there are also implications for developing countries in such figures, which have thus to be considered seriously. If we assume, for simplicity, that developed and developing countries account 50:50 for total emissions, then a global 50% cut with 70% developed-country cut implies a 30% emission cut for developing countries.

If developing countries’ population doubles in that period (from 1990 to 2050), then the implication is a 65% cut collectively in their emissions per capita.

This is a very deep cut, and whether developing countries should or can take on such cuts should be openly debated. It is insufficient to leave these as implicit targets, as a residue of global and developed countries’ targets.

The above is of course only one aspect, though an important one, in the operationalisation of the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, etc.

Third, there needs to be more work on the building block of integrating development with environment. Addressing climate change as an environmental crisis requires simultaneously a development solution. The development challenges are enormous, far more than has been generally acknowledged as yet.

As has been effectively argued, if climate change is not addressed, its effects would themselves devastate development prospects. Thus, adequately addressing climate change through mitigation and adaptation is crucial, and is more cost-effective than adopting a “business as usual” attitude.

At the same time, we should also not under-estimate the tremendous efforts required to switch to new development pathways that match the new emission-stabilisation pathways required to curb the growth of Greenhouse Gas emissions.

For example, the Vienna meeting heard presentations that the economic costs of addressing climate change would be only 0.12% of world Gross National Product (GNP) per year, up to 2050.

If this is so, then operationalising this would still be an enormous challenge. It may imply, for instance, that if developed countries are growing at 2.12% a year, they would have to make do with 2% and if developing countries are growing at 6.12%, they would have to make do with 6%.

(Of course, if developed countries were to agree to reduce their growth rates more than this, developing countries will have more space to grow.)

This may be a relatively small price to pay to address climate change and still enable relatively good growth. But it would be a tremendous challenge indeed for developing countries to be able to grow economically at 6% a year and also be able simultaneously to reduce their per capita emissions by 65% by 2050.

Perhaps it can be done. However, many in-depth studies must be undertaken to show how this tremendous transformation can be undertaken, or it would remain at this stage only a vision.

On the issue of finance, there should not be an impression that the sums are small and that the private sector will take care of most of the costs.

The UNFCCC Secretariat paper on investments needed to address climate change (presented at Vienna) has done a good job of stimulating discussions on a complex issue.

It has given estimates of an extra investment and financial flow of US$200-210 billion required in 2030 for mitigation and “tens of billions of dollars” for adaptation.

The enormous costs of mitigation and adaptation should be realistically spelt out, and national studies (such as the one presented by India on the immense costs of emission-reducing reforms in industry) and examples of costs of addressing real-life climate-related events, would be illustrative.

For example, in the newspaper USA Today (dated 29 August 2007) it was reported that the 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused US$150 billion damage and the costs of reconstruction include US$116 billion allocated by the US Congress as well as many more billions of dollars to be met by private financing including insurance.

The 2004 tsunami would also have cost many billions of dollars in rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Mitigation and adaptation measures would help prevent or reduce such expensive costs of disaster-related reconstruction. The high costs of damage and reconstruction also have to be addressed.

At the least, there is a need for a large publicly-financed and operated fund to address adaptation. Private finance can only be a supplement, especially since it is difficult for poorer countries to access these funds and on affordable terms. A fund to address costs of damage may also need to be looked into, especially since climate-related damage is already taking place.

On technology transfer, the challenge is also enormous. A key question is the treatment of intellectual property rights (IPRs) over climate-friendly technologies. IPRs confer monopoly rights, and can curb affordable access through higher prices (that usually include monopoly profits) as well as be a barrier to the introduction or upgrading of technology by private industry or public-sector agencies in developing countries.

The lower the cost and the greater the ability of developing countries’ enterprises to make use of or to make existing or new climate-friendly technologies, the faster would be the developing countries’ ability to switch to more climate-friendly technologies and to the new emission-stabilisation pathways as well as new development pathways.

If there is insistence on the “full protection of intellectual property” in relation to climate-friendly technology, it would be a barrier to technology transfer. The example of how Indian companies were hindered from introducing a new chemical that is not harmful to the ozone layer as a substitute to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), because of patents on that chemical, is illustrative.

Thus, a post-2012 regime has to deal with this thorny issue of IPRs and developing countries’ access to technology (existing and new technologies, for mitigation, adaptation and reconstruction).

On new development pathways, there should be more discussion and work done. Stabilisation pathways (aimed at greater energy efficiency and emission reduction) are an important component.

However, there are other key components if developing countries are to explore new ways of looking at economic and social development strategies that meet the requirements of emission-stabilisation pathways.

The pathway of moving from primary production and commodity-based sectors to commodity processing and first-stage manufacturing and services to more mature industrialisation and services, the pathways of addressing sustainable development in agriculture, industry, commercial and social services, the pathway of trade policy, investment policy, financial policy, technology policy, social policy, have to be thought through. These are massive challenges.

Fourth, there should be policy coherence at national and international levels. If climate change is indeed the most pressing challenge of our times, then policies made in other areas and in other fora have to be looked at through the fresh lens of addressing climate change, and made consistent with the aims and measures that we are trying to implement in combating climate change.

For example, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there are proposals to consider as a non-tariff barrier (which should be removed) the imposition of higher taxes on cars with a higher engine capacity, or the lack of government action to facilitate financing of consumers’ purchase of motor-cars.

Also at the WTO, some developed countries are also pushing developing countries to drastically reduce their tariffs on food products, so that their highly subsidised farm products can penetrate the poorer countries’ markets, and at the same time they are insisting that the developing countries’ markets for industrial products also be opened up very significantly.

Developing countries that take measures, consistent with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to provide cheaper generic medicines for their population, are being condemned or punished by the major developed countries like the US or the EU, as the recent case of Thailand and its compulsory licences on three types of medicines shows.

If some of the proposals at the WTO were to be adopted, they would make it far more difficult for developing countries to switch to an emission-stabilisation pathway and a sustainable development pathway.

Similarly, reviews should be made of the provisions of bilateral and regional free trade agreements, and of loan and aid conditionalities facing countries dependent on the international financial institutions and on aid donors.

These are some of the issues that at present could be stumbling blocks that have to be transformed into building blocks towards new goals, frameworks and structures in the cooperative efforts to combat climate change.