Second Review of the Adequacy of Article 4.2 (A) and (B) of the Convention

 Introduction

The issue of the second review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) of the Convention arises from Article 4.2(d), whose relevant provisions read as follows:

"The COP shall, at its first session, review the adequacy of subparagraphs (a) and (b)... Such review shall be carried out in the light of the best available scientific information and assessment on climate change and its impacts, as well as relevant technical, social and economic information. Based on this review, the Conference of the Parties shall take appropriate action, which may include the adoption of amendments to the commitments in subparagraph (a) and (b) ...A second review of subparagraphs (a) and (b) shall take place not later than 31 December 1998, and thereafter at regular intervals determined by the COP, until the objective of the Convention is met."


This provision was included in the Convention to address the concerns of some countries that Article 4.2(a) and (b), which includes the principle commitment of Annex I Parties to return their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000, was not sufficient.

The first review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) was undertaken at COP 1 (Berlin, March/April 1995) in accordance with Article 4.2(d). The COP concluded, in its decision known as the "Berlin Mandate", that Article 4.2(a) and (b) were not adequate and launched the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol at COP 3 (Kyoto, December 1997).

As Article 4.2(d) provides for the second review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) to take place no later than 31 December 1998, this issue was included on the agenda of COP 4 (Buenos Aires, November 1998). Despite intensive consultations, it proved impossible to reach any agreed conclusion or decision on this matter. Parties agreed that the existing commitments of Annex I Parties are not adequate and that the Kyoto Protocol is an important step towards achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention. However, they failed to reconcile their differences on how to conduct the review and what steps needed to be taken. The fundamental issue that divided developed and developing countries was whether the implementation of the Article should be interpreted as opening up a discussion on commitments for non-Annex I Parties.
 

In accordance with the draft rules of procedure being applied, which stipulate that any agenda item whose consideration is not completed at one COP session will be automatically placed on the provisional agenda for the next, the second review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) was included as an item on the provisional agenda for COP 5 (Bonn, October/November, 1999). During the adoption of the agenda, the Group of 77 and China proposed that the item be amended to read "review of the adequacy of implementation of Article 4.2(a) and (b)". There was no agreement on that proposal, and the item was held in abeyance. At the final plenary meeting, the President of the COP reported that, despite intensive consultations, it had again proven impossible to agree any conclusion or decision on this item.

In accordance with the draft rules of procedure being applied, the second review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) was again placed as an item on the provisional agenda for COP 6 (The Hague, November 2000), with the amendment to its wording proposed by the G-77 and China recorded in a footnote. Given the continuing lack of agreement, however, the item was once again held in abeyance and the President of the COP undertook to consider how to deal with the issue. At the final plenary meeting, the President reported that, despite thorough consideration, he had found no consensus on how to proceed. He announced his intention to continue considering possible ways of achieving consensus on the issues to be covered under the item, and to report to COP 7 (Marrakesh, October/November, 2001).

In accordance with the draft rules of procedure being applied, the second review of the adequacy of Article 4.2(a) and (b) was again placed on the provisional agenda for COP 7, together with the amendment proposed by the G-77 and China recorded in a footnote. Parties adopted the agenda, with the exception of the item "second review of the adequacy of UNFCCC Article 4.2(a) and (b)" (review of commitments), which was held in abeyance. The President of COP 7 held informal consultations on this issue. However, no consensus was reached. The COP agreed to continue to hold this item in abeyance, and include it in the agenda for COP 8. The President of COP 7 continued his consultations during the intersessional period and report to COP 8.

 Recent Developments  

At COP 8 (New Delhi, October/November 2002), the agenda was adopted with the items of second review of the adequacy of commitments held in abeyance. The COP President held informal consultations during COP 8, but no agreement was reached on how to proceed on this matter, and it will be considered further at COP 9.