Brussels/Nairobi, 17 November 2006
The European Union welcomes the solid progress made at the United Nations climate change conference which ended today in Nairobi. The meeting, the first ministerial conference on climate change held in sub-Saharan Africa, brought together the 189 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 166 Parties to the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol. The Nairobi conference resulted in a series of decisions and new initiatives to support developing countries, which are the most vulnerable to climate change. These will help developing nations to adapt to climate change, thus reducing its adverse impacts, and will encourage more clean technology projects in Africa and other poorer regions. The conference gave added momentum to discussions on future global action to combat climate change which began last May. The Parties to the Kyoto Protocol agreed on a comprehensive work plan for their talks on further commitments by developed countries for the period after 2012, when the Protocol’s current emission targets expire. The conference carried out a first review of the Protocol and agreed to undertake a second review in 2008 as strongly requested by the EU.
Finnish Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam, who led the EU at the conference, said : «The Nairobi climate change conference has been a success and I congratulate Kenya on this achievement. The European Union has achieved all its main priorities and continues to lead the battle against climate change. We came here above all to drive progress on adaptation issues and pave the way for strong further action to cut emissions, and that is what we have done. Now we need to ensure that action follows urgently. »
Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for Environment, commented : «I am pleased that the Nairobi conference has achieved so much to help developing countries cope with the huge challenge of climate change. It is increasingly clear that global emissions need to be halved by mid-century if we are to have a chance of keeping climate change within tolerable limits. The work plan agreed here is an important step towards defining the shape of future global action, but the international community needs to step up efforts to complete the process as soon as possible. »
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, whose country will take over the EU presidency from Finland on 1 January 2007, said: « We have taken important steps forward here in Nairobi. I particularly welcome the progress made on adaptation issues, which is a priority for helping those countries least able to cope with the impacts of inevitable climate change. During Germany’s forthcoming presidency of the EU and the G8 I will work together with our partners to inject greater urgency and momentum into the international process of driving down emissions. »
Assistance to developing countries on adaptation and clean technology
The EU welcomes the major progress achieved on helping all Parties, particularly developing nations, to adapt to climate change. The conference finalised a five-year programme of work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, enabling work to start immediately on a wide range of activities to support adaptation efforts and exchange best practice.
Negotiators also took an important step towards bringing on stream the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund for developing countries, which could eventually be worth 300 million euros or more, by reaching agreement on its governance structure and overarching principles for its operation. The EU hopes rapid progress can be made towards deciding on which institution should be responsible for operating the fund.
Kyoto Parties also reached agreement on making the Convention’s Special Climate Change Fund fully operational. This extends its financing scope beyond adaptation measures and technology transfer, which are already possible, to efforts by developing countries to mitigate emissions from a range of economic sectors and to diversity their economies.
Reflecting concern that Africa and other poorer regions are attracting relatively few clean technology projects under the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the parties agreed to step up efforts to help build relevant capacities in these regions. These decisions are in line with “the Nairobi Framework”, a UN capacity-building initiative announced at the conference by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The GEEREF risk capital fund launched by the European Commission last month will also contribute to the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries and more equitable distribution of CDM projects. During the conference Germany pledged 24 million euros and Italy 8 million euros to the fund over the next four years, in addition to the 80 million already committed by the Commission.
Discussions on tackling emissions from deforestation, based on an initiative launched last year by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, also made good progress. A work programme was agreed with the aim of reaching a substantive agreement at the next UN climate change conference a year from now.
Post-2012 action and review of the Kyoto Protocol
An important success was an agreement among Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on a comprehensive work plan for discussions on further commitments to be undertaken by developed country Parties after 2012. Under the work plan, the potential for cutting emissions will be analysed, the policies needed for achieving this assessed and, eventually, a share-out of emission reductions decided. The work will draw on expertise from external sources, including the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which will publish its fourth assessment report next year.
Parties to the UNFCCC, which in parallel with the Kyoto discussions are engaged in a two-year dialogue on further action, held a two-day workshop during the ministerial segment of the conference. The EU used this opportunity to encourage wider use of emissions trading and other market mechanisms as a cost-effective tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU welcomes the agreement to conduct a second review of the Kyoto Protocol in 2008. This should be a comprehensive review since there is scope for improvements in the working of the Protocol which would contribute to more effective post-2012 action. The conference agreed to consider next year a proposal by Russia that aims to allow Parties to take on emission commitments voluntarily.