Global Environment

The Fourth Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change - Section 1

1. ORGANIZATION OF THE SEMINAR

1. The Fourth Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change, held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok between March 15-17, 1995, was organised by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Environment Agency of Japan (EAJ) and co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Royal Thai Government.

A. Attendance

2. The Seminar was attended by representatives of the following members of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Nepal. Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United States of America and Vietnam.

3. The following United Nations bodies, specialised agencies and inter-governmental organisations were represented: World Health Organization (WHO), Interim Secretariat of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Asian Development Bank (ADB); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Organization on Economic CO-operation and Development (OECD); South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP); and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The Seminar was also attended by resource persons from the United States of America, Japan and Thailand.

B. Opening Statement

4. His Excellency Mr. Suwat Liptapanlop, Minister of Science, Technology and Environment of the Royal Government of Thailand, welcomed all the participants in the keynote address, and thanked ESCAP and the Government of Japan for their support for the seminar. His Excellency commented on the timeliness of the seminar, with the First Conference of the parties to a Framework Convention on Climate Change to he held in early April, and highlighted the role of the seminar in raising awareness of the critical issues arising from the Eleventh INC meeting in New York, especially issues related to the capacities of the countries to address their objectives under FCCC.

5. His Excellency reaffirmed that the Royal Thai Government not only recognized the critical nature of the problem of global warming, but also has taken positive action to curtail climate change and adapt to its implications. Notably, the establishment of the National Committee on Climate Change, operating under the National Environment Board, is regarded as essential to the enhancement of institutional structures for implementation of measures in response to climate change, as well as acting as a forum for formulation of related policies and operational initiatives. The Committee also serves as a monitoring body to ensure that institutional activities are designed to support the Government's commitments to the FCCC.

6. His Excellency emphasized that while Thailand is aware of its own commitments under the FCCC, Thailand will continue to protect its own interests, particularly those interests that are well within its national jurisdiction. His Excellency further stressed that the enforcement measures of international conventions must be fairly applied, and consider the common but differentiated responsibilities of all nations. Finally His Excellency urged all participants in the Seminar to contribute fully to the scheduled discussions, and to join the search for bold and new initiatives.

7. In opening the Seminar, Ms Seiko Takahashi, Acting Executive Secretary of ESCAP, welcomed all the participants to the Fourth Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change, thanked the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) of the Royal Thai Government for his attendance, and the Government of Japan for supporting the organization of the seminar.

8. The Acting Executive Secretary commented on the significance of global warming in the Asia-Pacific region and noted that about half the members of ESCAP have ratified the convention. The Seminar was particularly timely as the First Conference of the Parties was due to take place in Berlin from the 28th of March to the 7th of April 1995. She stressed that there was an immediate regional need to precisely evaluate existing capacities, and to design and strengthen efforts to enhance awareness and expertise for the preparation of national inventories on sources and sinks of Greenhouse Gases (GHG). The uncertainties surrounding climate change scenarios are well recognized. These pose problems on two fronts: the range of estimates regarding climate change and related phenomena, and evaluation of physical and socio-economic impacts.

9. The Acting Executive Secretary noted that this seminar was representative of the essential trend towards international and regional co-operation in addressing global climate change issues, and drew attention to the following points:

  • Promotion of further understanding and information exchange on likely impacts of global climate change;
  • Promotion of better understanding and adaptation of methodologies which are practical, comparable and reflect the realities of the developing countries in the preparation of regional greenhouse gas inventories;
  • Review of capacity building requirements to better assess policy options in regard to climate change;
  • Review of the extent of regional co-operation and identify practical and effective measures to foster available initiatives, avoid duplication of efforts, and facilitate synergies.

10. In his statement, Mr. Takashi Matsumura of the Environment Agency of Japan noted that all countries at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development affirmed their commitment to take positive action towards sustainable development. Three years later, it was recognized that while much progress had been made, still greater challenges remained. He noted that the environmental problems before us have a broad range in terms of space and time, from local to global levels and from present to future generations. It is essential to re-examine existing measures and to formulate new policy measures to address new challenges in order to tackle these problems in a sustainable manner. In response to these challenges, the Government of Japan enacted the Basic Environment Law in 1993, and is now moving on towards the next step, namely, the development of an environmental policy designed to carry through to the mid-2lst Century: the Basic Environment Plan. Under this Plan, Japan will endeavor to reformulate socio-economic activities to make them environmentally sustainable. With regard to global warming, Japan has been making efforts to limit its CO2 emissions, based on the national Action Program to Arrest Global Warming established in October 1990. Japan ultimately aims to attain the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and will make further efforts to contribute to the new international framework to arrest global warming.

11. Mr. Matsumura recognized the critical role that the Asia-Pacific region will play in solving the problem of global warming, and while acknowledging the environmental, cultural and social diversity of the region, emphasized the importance of regional co-operation and mutual dependence. Consequently, this Fourth Asia-Pacific Seminar on Global Climate Change was considered to have a critical role to play in fostering regional co-operation and exchange of information.

12. Mr. Mitsuo Usuki, Deputy Regional Representative of the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, emphasized UNEP's support for the objectives of the seminar. UNEP intends to place a high priority on supporting institutional and capacity building efforts through workshops and seminars in order to foster international co-operation in the development of greenhouse gas inventories and national response strategies in the region. While recognizing the limitations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), Mr. Usuki reaffirmed UNEP's support for the FCCC as an important step towards achieving the goal of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Usuki then outlined the steps that UNEP's regional office is taking to support compliance with the FCCC's commitments by governments within the region.

C. Election of officers

13. The Seminar elected Mr. Saburo Kato (Japan) as Chairperson, Mr. Chong Ah Look (Malaysia) and Mr. S. Mushtaq H. Razvi (Pakistan) as Vice-Chairpersons, and Mr. Raj Rishi (Fiji) as Rapporteur.

D. Adoption of the agenda

14.The meeting adopted the following agenda:

  1. Opening session
  2. Election of officers
  3. Adoption of the agenda
  4. Recent international developments to cope with global warming:
    • a) Status of implementation of the Untied Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
    • b) Progress of activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;
    • c) AOSIS Protocol;
  5. Status of national activities to cope with global climate change:
    • a) Communications by Annex I countries to COP-1;
    • b) Report on national activities.
  6. Regional co-operation on global climate change:
    • a) Overview presentation by ESCAP;
    • b) Presentation by other organizations;
    • c) CHC emissions and sinks inventories in Asia and the Pacific;
    • d) Round table discussion.
  7. Special session: Assessment of impacts of climate change.
  8. Conclusion and recommendations.
  9. Adoption of the meeting report and closing of the Seminar
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