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In Focus, December 2006

Carrying over the "spirit of Nairobi" into the next year

The twelfth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) was the first UN climate summit in sub-Saharan Africa. Expectations at the beginning of the conference were high. Warning that global warming threatened the development goals for billions of the world’s poorest people, the President of the Conference, Kenyan Environment Minister Kivutha Kibwana, said that climate change was fast proving to be one of the greatest challenges in the history of humankind. At the opening of the high-level segment of the conference, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that global climate change needed to take its place alongside the threats of conflict, poverty and the proliferation of deadly weapons.

The sense of urgency in Nairobi led not only to progress on the mitigation agenda, but resulted in significant results in the field of adaptation. The activities to be implemented under the "Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change" were agreed, providing a unique tool to enhance the technical and methodological basis for adaptation and to foster cooperation among Parties through joint activities with other UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Another important outcome was the agreement on the principles for the management of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol.

Ahead of the meeting, there were calls to provide a wider geographic spread of projects under the clean development mechanism (CDM), which has meanwhile become a significant source of funding for sustainable development. The Conference recognized the barriers that stand in the way of increased penetration of CDM projects in many countries, particularly in Africa. To respond to this challenge, the Secretary-General announced the "Nairobi Framework", designed to provide additional support to developing countries to successfully develop projects for the CDM. Five United Nations agencies are involved in the partnership: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank, and UNFCCC. The framework will facilitate the development of projects on the ground and build capacity through bottom-up approaches in partnership with local institutions.

At Nairobi, Parties adopted rules of procedure for the Kyoto Protocol’s Compliance Committee, making it fully operational. A number of decisions were made in the area of the other Kyoto Protocol market-based mechanisms. In particular, Joint Implementation was given a major boost by decisions needed to launch its project-based track. Rules were finalized for the Special Climate Change Fund. The fund is designed to finance projects in developing countries relating to adaptation, technology transfer, climate change mitigation and economic diversification for countries highly dependent on income from fossil fuels. Other decisions adopted aimed at improving the delivery of financial support, in particular in the way in which the Global Environment Facility operates the Convention’s financial mechanism.

The COP requested the secretariat prepare a review of all financial flows relevant to addressing climate change. The secretariat has already begun this review. Ultimately, a self financing climate compact could ensure that under a future regime, carbon finance resulting from industrialised country commitments would be used to pay for mitigation ­­– including technology cooperation ­­– and adaptation in developing countries.

Talks on commitments of industrialized countries for post-2012 under the Kyoto Protocol advanced well. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments by Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG) agreed on a detailed work plan spelling out the steps needed to complete its mandate. The AWG decided to base its efforts on a shared vision of the challenge set by the ultimate objective of the Convention. For example, it took note of findings that global carbon dioxide emissions had to be reduced to well below half of their levels in the year 2000 to achieve a stabilization of atmospheric concentrations.

Parties also held a second round of the Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to enhance implementation of the Convention, open to all 189 Parties to the UNFCCC. Landmark presentations on the latest findings on economic challenges posed by global warming were made, along with economic solutions. These presentations included the United Kingdom’s Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and the World Bank’s Investment Framework on Clean Energy and Development. Discussions showed a clear shift in the debate, from looking at climate change policies as a cost factor for development to seeing them as opportunities to enhance economic growth in a sustainable way. Several key presentations were from developing countries, with Brazil, India, China and South Africa making innovative proposals for future action based on positive incentives and in support of sustainable development.

In order to ensure the continuity of the carbon market, it will be vital that a new round of negotiations on climate change policy beyond 2012 be initiated as early as next year. The sense of urgency to act against global warming was shared by almost all participants meeting in at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Kenya. It resulted in the "Spirit of Nairobi" invoked by President Kivutha Kibwana - a sense that time is running out and that vital decisions must be taken without delay. This positive spirit prevailed at the end of two weeks of arduous talks and negotiations in Kenya and should be carried through to the next Conference of the Parties, planned to be held in Indonesia (3 to 14 December 2007). And at the series of workshops and meetings throughout the year leading up to the next CMP.

Decisions and other actions taken by COP 12 and COP/MOP 2

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Handbook is a reference document linking the Convention and the decisions through which it has been implemented. It is designed to assist Parties, researchers and others interested in the international climate change regime and negotiations. The handbook, while touching on aspects of the Kyoto Protocol, is foremost a handbook on the Convention. The handbook provides an overview of the history, objectives and institutions of the Convention - the conferences, the participants, who does what, who is who, the rules, as well as process for making changes to the Convention. It also provides detailed summaries of the work undertaken by the Parties to develop the principles and provisions contained in the Convention, including on mitigation, adaptation, transfer of technology, capacity-building, financing and reporting on climate change. We hope that this handbook will be a useful source of information and reference for your work.