Global Environment

The Fourth Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change - Section 4

4. REGIONAL CO-OPERATION ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

(Item 6 on the agenda)

A. Overview presentation by ESCAP

53. The secretariat presented an overview on the regional stream of activities on climate change. The secretariat recapped the progress of international developments related to global climate change, particularly the considerable number of Asian and Pacific countries that have ratified UNFCCC. The assistance needed in response to countries' requests include technical and financial support for preparation of national response strategies, provision of information, training, assistance for research, education, and enhancing public awareness. The secretariat noted the cooperation programmes carried out at global level by the interim secretariat of UNFCCC, UNEP, UNITAR and UNDP in the field of capacity-building and information exchange. A number of significant events had taken place at the regional level, starting with the 1990 Ministerial-level Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, which mainly focused on physical implications of climate change. The Ministerial level Conference organized in November 1995 would discuss the socio-economic implications of climate change. The secretariat also summarized a number of regional activities implemented by the Asian Development Bank, UNEP, UNDP and IGBP, which produced considerable information in terms of national studies. Regional Seminars had been useful in establishing linkages between global and regional initiatives. More forums for specific tasks, such as raising awareness, networking and developing regional strategies were needed in the region. The secretariat outlined the complex context and scope for regional cooperation initiatives and the need for supporting collaborative efforts and synergies among the various actors. The secretariat presented its ongoing project on regional cooperation on global climate change. ESCAP had invited the member governments to designate national agencies to act as focal points of a proposed Regional Network on Climate Change. The secretariat reported to the Seminar on the status of development of the Network and invited the Seminar to identify additional requirements to strengthen regional co-operation in technical fields related to global climate change. These particularly referred to the scientific assessment of climate change through collaborative efforts and programs. The secretariat also invited the Seminar to consider setting priorities and developing regional networking initiatives to serve the purpose of capacity-building and information exchange, based on regional perspectives in coordination with global assessment and response actions. The secretariat also reported on the activities in the field of energy related to climate change under the Programme for Coordination on Energy and the Environment (PACE-E) supported by UNDP.

B. Presentation by other organizations

UNEP

54. Mr. Mitsuo Usuki, Regional Representative of UNEP, presented the activities of the United Nations Environment Programme. UNEP has supported the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Costing Studies in nine countries, backing field tests of methodologies with Global Environment Fund (CEF) support. This work is expected to be complete this year. UNEP also supported a series of regional workshops in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, covering orientation of methodologies and inventory method. The Asia-Pacific regional workshop jointly sponsored by UNEP, the US National Studies Program and the Federal Government of Australia was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in October 1994. 19 countries of the Asia-Pacific region participated, along with regional NGOs and several international agencies. Giving further details on UNEP's activities, Mr. Usuki mentioned that the Atmosphere Unit of UNEP has developed a project supported by the GEF on "Economics of GHG Limitations," with Phase I based in India and Thailand; and "Country Case Studies on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Assessments," with Phase I involving Pakistan.

Asian Development Bank

55. Dr. Prodipto Ghosh, Environmental Specialist, Environment Division, Office of the Environment and Social Development, introduced ADB activities on climate change and other global environmental issues. Dr. Ghosh informed the meeting of the Bank's initiatives toward technical assistance projects on: (i) environmental considerations in energy development; (ii) global environmental issues; (iii) national response strategies for global climate change; (iv) acid rain emissions reduction; and (v) least-cost greenhouse gases abatement strategy for Asia. Dr. Ghosh focused on the highlights and possible impacts of already-completed studies on global environmental issues and national response strategies for climate change. The regional study on global environmental issues covered: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. A national response strategy for global climate change was carried out in China and Thailand. In addition, the Bank has organized or sponsored several international seminars and workshops on Climate Change.

OECD

56. Ms. Fiona Mullins of the Environment Directorate, OECD, presented recent work by the OECD on climate change. Recent activities aimed at helping the IPCC develop inventory guidelines, and working with Annex I countries to help develop guidelines to facilitate the completeness, transparency and comparability of their first National Communications. The OECD is currently doing analysis to support the development of Annex I countries' climate change strategies. An important conclusion of the first review of National Communications was that nine policies and measures are likely to be required to meet the objectives of the Convention. In addition, strengthening of commitments is one of the key issues on the agenda for the First Conference of the Parties in Berlin. Protocols to the FCCC could be the mechanism that allows Parties to agree to further commitments. Discussions of what form a protocol might take have included the possibility of new, more concrete targets and timetables for reducing emissions and the possibility that specific policies and measures that Parties agree to take could be included in a protocol. In this context, the issue of what further actions could be taken by Annex I countries is a priority. Annex I countries have asked the OECD and IEA secretariats to carry out analysis of greenhouse gas mitigation options for future climate change strategies. The first stage of this study involves a review of available information to identify and analyze promising policies and measures. This review is being undertaken with funding from the Government of Japan. The OECD secretariat will work very closely with Annex I countries to develop the analysis of the options. A report on the analysis was to be prepared for a workshop to be held in September 1995. The study would give particular emphasis to the potential advantages to be gained through cooperative actions. It is clear that once countries move beyond "no regrets" measures, difficult issues arise. Domestic concerns such as budget deficits, unemployment and competitiveness tend to drive policy decisions. Tough greenhouse gas measures in one country that encourage energy intensive industry to move elsewhere will not reduce global emissions. Creative multilateral solutions provide a logical way ahead. The OECD hopes to support the development of such solutions through its analysis.

SACEP

57. The Director of SACEP, Mr. Hossain Shihab, informed the meeting that experts consider two of the nine SACEP member countries, Bangladesh and Maldives, to be extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It is predicted that one third of Bangladesh and 1200 islands of the Maldives would be destroyed by the intensive flooding that would accompany a rise in sea level. The SAARC Technical Committee on Environment handles environmental matters of the South-Asian countries. In the last meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee in January 1995, SACEP was asked to act on some of the environmental issues. In light of the recommendation of the SAARC technical committee, SACEP is now consulting with the Government of Maldives to assist in climate change issues. SACEP is also drawing up projects for the approval of the government of Afghanistan.

SPREP

58. In introducing the activities of SPREP, Mr. Neville Koop, Climatology Officer, expressed the great concern of the Pacific Islands nations that global warming is likely to result in a sea level rise, changing rainfall patterns, increased incidence of extreme events such as tropical cyclones, extinction of species unable to adapt to changes and the disruption of ecosystems. To address these concerns, SPREP has developed and implemented a climate change work programme with the following objectives: (i) to act as a clearing house for information on climate change; (ii) to improve understanding at political and public levels of potential impacts of climate change on the Pacific Islands region; (iii) to encourage and coordinate activities relating to the science of climate change and the determination of measures to avoid or mitigate the impact of these changes, (iv) to encourage and coordinate the development and implementation of response options to minimize the region's contribution to causes of human-induced climate change, (v) to encourage and coordinate the development and representation of the interests and concerns of the South Pacific region in international discussions on climate change, and to formulate options for limiting its causes and adapting to it; (vi) to co-ordinate the assistance of international organizations, governments and institutions from within and outside the region in dealing with climate change in the South Pacific, and (vii) to act as a regional clearing house for information on the implications of international measures to protect the ozone layer, including information on the development and transfer of ozone-benign technologies.

59. In order to implement this programme throughout the SPREP member countries and territories, SPREP coordinates a sea level and climate monitoring programme to detect the signs of sea level rise and atmospheric warming; conducts feasibility studies to determine the impacts of sea level rise in nine Pacific island countries; facilitates and provides technical support to Pacific island delegates at international conferences and meetings; provides support for implementation of national policy for development and planning through a series of country workshops on climate change for senior leaders and decision makers; and strengthens the capacity of meteorological services through the provision of training, infrastructure, advice, and the formulation of regional cooperation programmes.

C. GHG emissions and sinks inventories in Asia and the Pacific

60. On behalf of the Thailand Environment Institute, Dr. Vute Wangwacharakul presented a review of the preparation of GHG inventories in the countries of the Asia Pacific region. The study was based on a review of available published literature on the topic. Many of the countries in the Asia Pacific region have undertaken efforts to estimate all or part of their GHG emissions. These efforts generally comply with IPCC guidelines and cover most or all of the important GHGs. Others have undertaken partial inventories. Regardless of the depth and coverage of individual efforts, the willingness to establish inventories on emissions and sinks is encouraging, since this indicates a broad agreement among the nations of the region that climate change is no longer a matter of mere academic concern. It also recognizes that rapid industrialization will have to take environmental externalities into consideration for the maximization of benefits from expected economic growth.

61. Most of the recent inventory estimates have come about as the result of regional efforts. The report summarizes the GHG Inventories in the Asia Pacific region for the following countries: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam. In discussions of the problems that these countries have faced, due consideration is given to:

  • The applicability of methodologies from country to country;
  • The availability of information: many developing countries have limited base-line data on which they can base their emissions estimates. Default values have generally been calculated in more advanced countries, possibly in different ecological zones. Predictive models require a minimum amount of data, which may or may not be available in developing countries.
  • The relationship between inventory and forecasting: there is limited attention given to forecasting. While inventories can give an idea of the magnitude of the problem now, due attention must he given to the future under different scenarios if effective long-term planning is to be undertaken and implemented. This is particularly important in this region, given the large number of rapidly developing countries.
  • Recommendations for future research in the region include: Identification of data gaps, and research to fill these gaps; Primary research to determine the applicability of default values in different countries and in different environments; Development of forecasts for the future under different scenarios. The major recommendations of the report are: that country-specific values for different parameters be developed; that efforts are undertaken to make the IPCC/OECD approach more applicable to all countries; that further investigation of forecast models such as COPATH and G2S2 be undertaken; and that the capacity to undertake climate change research and plan and implement response strategies be developed in the countries of the region.
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