Policy framework to tackle the issue of climate change


05-September-2011

It provides the overall policy framework for addressing the climate change issue and as such forms the foundation of global efforts to combat global warming. The UNFCCC lays the basis for global action "to protect the climate system for present and future generations".

The Convention sets out some guiding principles and general commitments for the international response to climate change. The UNFCCC entered into force in March 1994 following ratification by 50 of its signatory Parties. Seychelles ratified the convention on September 22, 1992 one of the first countries to do so.

With 194 Parties, the Convention enjoys near-universal membership. Parties to the Convention have agreed to work towards achieving the Convention's ultimate aim of stabilising "greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".

What is the Conference of the Parties (COP)?
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the prime authority of the Convention. It is an association of all member countries (or "Parties") and usually meets annually for a period of two weeks. These sessions are attended by several thousand government delegates, observer organisations, and journalists.

The Conference of the Parties evaluates the status of climate change and the effectiveness of the treaty. It examines the activities of member countries, particularly by reviewing national communications and emissions inventories; it considers new scientific findings; and it tries to capitalise on experience as efforts to address climate change proceed.

It also oversees the mobilisation of new and additional (financial) resources provided by developed countries to help developing countries carry out their obligations under the Convention.

The COP acts as judge and jury with respect to climate change issues and has established subsidiary bodies for this purpose.
This year COP 17 meeting will be held in Durban, South Africa at the end of November.

What is the Kyoto Protocol?
A protocol is an international agreement which stands on its own but which is linked to an existing treaty, in this case the UNFCCC, and thus shares the same concerns and guiding principles.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to UNFCCC. It builds on the UNFCCC by adding a series of new commitments which are stronger and far more complex and detailed than those contained in the Convention and setting legally binding targets and timetables for emissions reductions by developed countries for the post-2000 period.

The main distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Whilst the major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing GHG emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. But the Protocol also allows them to meet their emission reduction commitments abroad through so-called “market-based mechanisms”.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997 and entered into force on February 16, 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.” Seychelles ratified the Kyoto Protocol on July 22, 2002.

The road ahead
The Kyoto Protocol is generally seen as an important first step towards a truly global emission reduction regime that will stabilise GHG emissions, and provides the essential architecture for any future international agreement on climate change.

By the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, a new international framework needs to have been negotiated and ratified that can deliver the stringent emission reductions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly indicated are needed.

Seychelles Positions for Kyoto Protocol Negotiations at COP17 in Durban, November 2011
Seychelles believe actions are needed to raise the level of ambition if this process has to retain any credibility as a forum for addressing climate change

To ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, Seychelles’ position is as follows:

• Adopt a decision that establishes a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, to run from 2013 to 2017, with a single, legally-binding, base year of 1990.
• Improve the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol, by closing loopholes in Land-Use and Forestry accounting,
• Ensure the continuity of Kyoto commitments into this post-2012 period through agreement on the provisional application of new, more ambitious targets pending the ratification process.

Contributed by the Environment Department

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