The issue of 'Adverse Effects and the Impacts of Response Measures' in the UNFCCC

TitleThe issue of 'Adverse Effects and the Impacts of Response Measures' in the UNFCCC
Publication TypeTyndall Working Paper
SeriesTyndall Centre Working Papers
Secondary TitleTyndall Centre Working Paper 5
AuthorsBarnett, J.
Year of Publication2001

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol require Parties to take measures to minimise the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable countries including small island states. In negotiations the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) argue that this should mean assistance for capacity building and transfer of technologies to help them adapt to a changing climate. The Convention and Protocol also require Parties to take measures to minimise the impacts of emission reduction activities on energy exporting countries. In negotiations the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) countries argue that this should mean payment of compensation for the lost oil revenues, the growth of which is forecast to slow should the Protocol be implemented. Although seemingly unrelated, negotiations on these two agendas are currently intertwined and progress on both is deadlocked. This paper explores the political, economic and legal dimensions of this interlocked adverse effects/impacts issue. The paper begins by discussing the key adverse effects/impacts Articles under negotiation (Articles 4.8, 4.9 and 3.14 of the Kyoto Protocol), and the ways in which progress has become deadlocked. The paper discusses the positions of AOSIS and OPEC countries, and considers the bases for their respective positions. The paper explains how, in insisting that progress on Articles 4.8, 4.9 and 3.14 - and indeed on all issues in the climate regime - be equal to progress on the issue of compensation, OPEC countries are obstructing financial and technical assistance to all developing and least developed countries for adaptation to the impacts of climate change. This suggests that tacit G77-China support for OPEC's position may therefore be counterproductive. The paper gives considerable attention to the energy models that forecast losses to OPEC countries if the Kyoto Protocol is implemented. It explores the assumptions of these models which, in sum, render expected losses to oil exporters highly uncertain. It argues that there are sufficient grounds to suggest that even for many OPEC countries assistance to help manage the adverse effects of climate change is more important to their economic welfare than compensation for the impacts of response measures on oil revenues. The paper then outlines how standard decision-making criteria cannot be applied to the adverse effects/impacts issue as the values that underlie the respective AOSIS / OPEC negotiating positions are incommensurable. Instead, it sees that a political solution is required and advocates a second-track dialogue and conflict resolution process in the UNFCCC. The paper posits that in situations where the proposed second-track dialogue and conflict resolution process fails, there may ultimately need to be some mechanism whereby deadlocked conflicts can be resolved through adjudication.

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