Issue No.4



A. Report on conference "Implementing the Kyoto Protocol" at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, London

B. New Corporate Environmental Reporting Initiative Tackles Greenhouse Gas Emissions





A discussion group has developed theses for COP5, which are outlined at

There will be a face-to-face meeting of persons interested in discussing these theses during the conference from 27-28th July 1999 in Stuttgart described in greater detail below. Please express your interest to the editor.

Quote of the week: "We all have to act under uncertainty; full information is a divine attribute." Klaus Toepfer, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.

A. Report on conference "Implementing the Kyoto Protocol" at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, London

"Why don't you just leapfrog us?" one diplomat asked the panelist from India, "use the latest technology". The researcher had surveyed heads of state throughout the developing world looking for reasons for their reluctance to participate in the Kyoto treaty. "You've got to relate climate policy to something people care about nowadays," advised MP Reinhard Loske from Germany; "tell them it creates jobs in sunshine industries".

These were a few of the suggestions put forth at a London conference for 200 participants, many of whom came straight from the UNFCCC technical meeting in Bonn, five of them official negotiators themselves. Dignitaries included two ministers from OECD countries, an undersecretary general of the UN and an undersecretary of the United States. They tackled crucial topics such as U.S. ratification, differences in EU/US perceptions, meaningful participation by developing countries, establishing baselines, Russian hot air, means of enforcing compliance and whether liability should be borne by the sellers or buyers of emission permits. Speakers from both the U.S. and Mexican governments praised a new approach to encouraging developing country participation proposed by the World Resources Institute and described at


Many speakers felt that current political conditions are unreceptive, the mood at negotiations is uncompromising and the chances of the protocol's going into force are about 50:50. Simon Upton, Minister of the Environment in New Zealand spoke convincingly on risks, many of which he regards as overblown by the false perceptions of interest groups, but real in their deleterious effect on the chances of ratification nonetheless ( He concurred with several other speakers that "at the inter-economy level, most international modelling shows that the impacts are not large at all - for most countries they involve slight reductions in the rate of growth in GDP amounting to around 1% or less in 10 years' time." He called for getting as many parties involved as possible and for keeping initial goals modest. "The single most important suggestion" that Minister Upton was able to offer was "to take negotiations... out of the hands of environment ministers and engage trade, finance and economic ministers."

Thus, establishing a workable international system still appears daunting (as the Reuters report on the conference also suggests at Even so, some speakers insisted, valuable experience could be gained from further experimentation with the flexibility mechanisms as the chief means of reducing the cost of compliance, especially in the context of domestic and intracompany trading. Not only Canada has plans for domestic trading, but also Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and even the European Union by 2005; as may have been implied in a remark made by DG XI on 19th May 1999 to the effect that "the implications of emission trading in the internal market constitutes an important aspect that should be carefully considered... " (press release "Preparing for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol",

One session of the conference was devoted to business incentives, during which representatives from BP Amoco (, Royal Dutch Shell and Dupont reported on trading emissions among their corporate subsidiaries, the latter for 10 years now. One unique feature of the programme was the time and attention paid to trade aspects and possible conflicts between the Kyoto Protocol as a multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Duncan Brack, Head, Energy and Environment, at RIIA, introduced his new book on this theme and Lucas Assuncau, Research Director of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, ICTSD, Geneva, spoke on climate change as an externality. It has to be internalized in the production process of goods, which may be traded. Subsidies and fiscal incentives intended to internalize this externality could therefore be struck down under the trade regime. However, a multilateral energy efficiency standard would be compatible. It appears advisable for negotiators in the climate regime to anticipate possible repercussions of the trade regime on implementation of the Kyoto Protocol than to wait for conflicts to arise later and then to propose amendments to WTO rules. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme was reminded of the WTO's intention to establish a World Environment Organization, and was asked how he was going to react to that. He announced that cooperation between the two bodies would be outlined in a Memo of Understanding that would be forthcoming quite soon, at any rate before the Seattle Ministerial Meeting,

B. New Corporate Environmental Reporting Initiative Tackles Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A new initiative for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from business claims that its international standard will simplify reporting, and improve the credibility, comparability, and usefulness of information. The group, currently consisting of the Pew Center, UNEP, WRI, WBCSD, oil companies and accounting firms, says it will build on the significant progress that has already been made by other climate-related measurement efforts, but that it will break new ground in the following ways:

- The group will be collaborative and involve an open multi-stakeholder process. The results will be linked with CERES' Global Reporting Initiative,;

- The group aims to reach agreement on unresolved reporting issues, such as how a reporting entity is defined, which reporting formats, units, and conversion factors to use, how to define measurement and reporting boundaries, and how to relate to national reporting and emissions inventory schemes. For more information, see details at and contact Liz Cook, World Resources Institute,




Computer networks along with lower transport costs comprise major drivers of "globalization" of the microeconomic players that have become today's transnational corporations, TNC. Convergence of the climate and trade regimes as envisaged at the London conference highlights mainly negative consequences of this development. However, the Climate Change Action Group is beginning a debate on how to harness the powers of computer networks and globalization to counteract the twin challenges of world poverty and climate degradation. See the theses outlined at


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