COP 11 and COP/MOP 1 Montreal

Eleventh Session of the Conference of the
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (COP 11)

and

First Meeting of the Parties to the
Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1)

Montreal, Canada
November 28 - December 10, 2005

In two weeks of talks, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal concluded the decade-long round of negotiations that launched the Kyoto Protocol and opened a new round of talks to begin considering the future of the international climate effort.

The meeting was a historic first – it served both as the 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 11), and, following Kyoto’s entry into force in February, as the 1st Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1). 

Key outcomes of the Montreal conference included decisions by the COP/MOP finalizing the Kyoto “rulebook” and strengthening the Clean Development Mechanism, and a pair of decisions to consider next steps – one under the Protocol, launching negotiations toward new binding commitments for Kyoto’s developed country parties; and another under the Framework Convention, opening a nonbinding “dialogue on long-term cooperative action.”

While the two decisions on next steps are not formally linked, the negotiations around them were closely intertwined.  The European Union, Japan and Canada, obligated under Kyoto to begin considering new commitments, strongly favored a parallel process under the Convention as a way to engage both the United States and developing countries in future efforts.  Some developing countries also actively supported a new Convention process and others agreed on the condition it would not “open any negotiations leading to new commitments.”  The United States, not a party to the Protocol, insisted throughout the negotiations that it opposed any new process under the Convention.  But in the final hours, as the major developing countries lined up behind the decision, leaving the United States isolated with Saudi Arabia, U.S. negotiators relented.

One notable shift in Montreal was a greater willingness among developing countries to discuss stronger developing country efforts.  Several called for new mechanisms or agreements supporting voluntary developing country actions with market or other incentives.  Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica won support for a new process to consider approaches to reduce emissions from deforestation.  Brazil called for “positive incentives” for forest conservation and other steps to reduce emissions.  South Africa, while rejecting absolute targets for developing countries, advocated a “Kyoto-Plus regime” in which developing countries “do our fair share.”  Mexico suggested “voluntary commitments” such as national policies and measures or sectoral emission targets.

For many governments, reengaging the United States remained the higher priority.  Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, in the midst of a campaign to keep his Liberal government in power, spoke for many when he pointedly criticized the U.S. position to the press, saying “there is such a thing as a global conscience, and now is the time to listen to it.”  Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was warmly received when he delivered an unusual surprise address on the final day of negotiations.  Clinton, without explicitly addressing the negotiations or the U.S. position, emphasized the economic opportunities in addressing global warming and urged that the same precautionary approach driving the war on terrorism be applied to climate change.

The last-minute shift in the U.S. position may also have reflected mounting pressure from Congress for stronger U.S. engagement in the multilateral climate effort.  Two weeks before the conference, Senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden, the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution calling for U.S. participation in negotiations under the Convention to establish mitigation commitments for all major greenhouse gas-emitting countries.  As the talks were underway, a bipartisan group of 24 Senators wrote President Bush urging that the United States, “at a minimum, refrain from blocking or obstructing” discussions about next steps under the Convention.

Following are summaries of key decisions. Full text of the COP 11 and COP/MOP 1 decisions is available at the UNFCCC website.

Negotiating New Kyoto Targets

As required under Article 3.9 of the Kyoto Protocol, the COP/MOP initiated a process to “consider further commitments” for Annex I (developed) countries for the period beyond 2012, when the first round of Kyoto emission targets expire.

The decision establishes an ad hoc working group open to all Kyoto parties but sets no specific deadline for completing the negotiations.  It calls for the process to begin “without delay” and to conclude “in time to ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods.”  The first meeting of the working group will be in May 2006.

The final negotiations on the decision went through the night as Russia, unhappy with how its views had been received in the informal “contact group,” continued to argue in plenary for a procedure allowing non-Annex I countries to take “voluntary commitments.”   As a compromise, Russia accepted text in the COP/MOP conclusions referencing its proposal and inviting the President to undertake consultations and report back at COP/MOP 2.  

Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action

The COP, in a separate decision, launched a two-year dialogue “to analyse strategic approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change.”

At COP 10 in Buenos Aires, parties agreed to hold a one-time Seminar of Governmental Experts to discuss ongoing implementation and future action.  The seminar, convened in May, provided the first space within the Convention process for parties to discuss future steps but made no formal report to the COP.  The new dialogue advances the conversation to the next stage.  It will be a series of up to four workshops led by two co-facilitators, one from a developed and one from a developing country.  The facilitators will report to both COP 12 and COP 13.

The dialogue has four broad areas of focus: sustainable development, adaptation, technology, and market-based opportunities.  Its aims are to support implementation of existing commitments under the Convention; support “actions put forward voluntarily by developing countries”; and “enable Parties to continue to develop effective and appropriate national and international responses to climate change.”  The dialogue explicitly “will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments.”

The United States did not engage on the text until the final day, then agreed with only minor revisions, such as substituting “market-based opportunities” for “market-based mechanisms” and noting in the preamble that “there is a diversity of approaches to address climate change.”          

Adoption of Marrakesh Accords

An essential task of COP/MOP-1 was to formally adopt the detailed rules for the operation of the Kyoto Protocol, which had been provisionally agreed at COP-7 as part of the Marrakesh Accords.   Formal adoption of the Kyoto rules completed a cycle of negotiations initiated by the 1995 Berlin Mandate, which called for an agreement establishing quantified emission limits for developed countries. 

The COP/MOP adopted all 19 decisions recommended by COP-7, including:

  • Operating rules for the Protocol’s three flexibility mechanisms – emissions trading, joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
  • Rules for crediting of domestic sink activities, including reforestation, forest management and agricultural management.
  • A compliance regime to review countries’ eligibility to use the Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms, and to impose consequences for non-compliance with a party’s emissions target.
  • A detailed system for reporting and review of national emissions.

For further background on the Marrakesh Accords, see our reports on COP 6 bis and COP 7.

Kyoto Compliance

The only element of the Marrakesh Accords revisited by the COP/MOP was the legal means by which to establish the Protocol’s compliance mechanism.  Under Article 18 of the Protocol, any compliance procedures entailing binding consequences must be adopted as an amendment to the Protocol.  Prior to the meeting, Saudi Arabia proposed such an amendment.  After discussion, however, the COP/MOP decided to initially at least establish the compliance mechanism by decision rather than amendment, and referred the Saudi proposal to the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, which is to report back at COP/MOP 3.  Parties also elected members of the facilitative and enforcement branches of the newly established Compliance Committee.

Clean Development Mechanism

A major goal in Montreal was strengthening and streamlining the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, which allows credits from emission reduction activities in developing countries to be applied toward developed countries’ emission targets.

Responding to concerns from business and from host countries that projects are moving too slowly through the CDM process, the COP/MOP approved steps to clarify rules, speed the development of methodologies, strengthen governance, and provide more funding for the CDM Executive Board.  On crediting for early action, the decision allows for projects initiated between 2000 and late 2004 to receive retroactive credits if registered with the Executive Board by the end of 2006.  To support the Board’s operation, the decision established a levy on CDM proceeds to cover administrative expenses, and a number of developed countries announced additional voluntary pledges totaling nearly $8.2 million.

The COP/MOP also opened the door for a broader range of potential CDM activities beyond those that are strictly project-based.  While specifying that local or national policies or standards do not qualify as CDM projects, the decision allows project activities falling under a “program of activities” to be registered as a single CDM project, provided there are appropriate baseline and monitoring methodologies.  This could allow for a so-called programmatic approach, crediting a range of activities such as energy efficiency improvements across a series of entities or an entire sector.

Deforestation

Responding to calls from a number of developing countries, the COP initiated a new process under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to consider possible approaches for reducing GHG emissions from deforestation.

The decision was prompted by a submittal from Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica stressing the importance of the issue and putting two ideas on the table: an “optional protocol” involving a group of developed and developing countries; and expansion of the CDM to permit crediting of activities to reduce deforestation, which is not now allowed.   The submittal was supported by Bolivia, the Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. 

The COP invited parties to submit views on issues such as additionality, leakage, permanence, and monitoring, and directed SBSTA to report back in two years.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Spurred by a new IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, both the COP and the COP/MOP took steps to consider ways to advance capture-and-storage technologies.

In its guidance to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which administers assistance to developing countries, the COP asked the GEF to consider and report back on whether and how activities related to capture and storage could be integrated into its funding programs.   The COP/MOP asked the CDM Executive Board to consider proposals for new methodologies to allow capture-and-storage projects under the CDM, with a view to presenting recommendations at COP/MOP 2.  A workshop will be held at the next SBSTA meeting, in May 2006. 

Adaptation Work Program

At COP 10, parties decided to develop a five-year work program on adaptation to be carried out by SBSTA.  The five-year program adopted by the COP in Montreal aims to assist parties to improve their understanding of adaptation, impacts, and vulnerability, and to make informed decisions on practical actions and measures.  These efforts are to consider not only climate change, but also natural climate variability, a point pressed by the United States.

To help parties better assess their vulnerability, the program is to promote improved vulnerability assessment tools, climate monitoring and projections, and understanding of variability and extreme events.  To support adaptation planning and action, the program is to promote analysis and sharing of adaptation measures, research on adaptation technologies, and development of economic diversification strategies.  The work will be carried out primarily through workshops, expert groups, and technical papers.

Adaptation Fund

The COP/MOP adopted initial guidance for the new Adaptation Fund established under the Marrakesh Accords, but deferred a decision on who will manage the fund until its next meeting.

Unlike other funds in the climate regime, which are supported solely by developed country contributions, the Adaptation Fund is financed in part by a “share of the proceeds” from the CDM.  The issues in Montreal concerned governance – in particular, whether the fund will be managed by the GEF.  Developing countries argued that the GEF’s management arrangements reflect its donor basis and therefore are not appropriate for a fund financed through the CDM.  The COP/MOP agreed to hold a workshop this spring to consider governance issues and to adopt further guidance at its next session.


Consult additional resources on international climate change policy.