ECO GENEVA (INC) #8 June 27, 1991 ( 
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 ECO GENEVA (INC) #8 June 27, 1991 (

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                          ECO NEWSLETTER


                          June 27, 1991
                         Issue #8 (FINAL)

                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

1)  'Convention Could Fail'
2)  CO2 Offsets
3)  Working Group 1 Report
4)  Malta to Host Ocean Meeting
5)  Rural and Academic Science
6)  Climate and Equity
7)  The Ecological Debt (editorial)
9)  NGO Profile - Union of Concerned Scientists
10) Forest Principles Ring Hollow
11) Mass C{*filter*}Death
12) WRI and the Greenhouse Index?
13) Bangladesh: Threatened by Global Warming and Distorted
14) India will not accept "Figleaf" convention
15) The US Problem - A Summary
16) Country Studies - a potential delaying tactic

1) `Convention Could Fail'

By Eco Staff

Warning by Environment Groups

Environmental organizations will today warn delegates at the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee For A Framework
Convention On Climate Change that "if, by the time of the UNCED
Earth Summit, more developed countries are not seen to commit
themselves to cut carbon dioxide emissions" it "will be seem to
have failed". The `Earth Summit' in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992,
is scheduled by the UN as the time and place for signature of a
Climate Convention. "Conclusion of a meaningful Climate Change
Convention, providing for cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases
is seen as a key indicator of the success or failure of the
conference" comments Scott Hajost of the Environmental Defense

In a statement due to be delivered in plenary on the final day of
the second session of the United Nations climate talks, the
groups of the Climate Action Network warn that "millions of
people are already under the threat of sea level rise,
desertification and cyclones" but note that the Negotiating
Committee is still only at `base camp'. While some organizational
progress has been made, at the present rate governments will
`fail to live up to worldwide expectations for an effective
climate convention by 1992' (the `Earth Summit' or United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development). If this happens, say
the organizations, it will be "an embarrassment" for politicians
but "for future generations, for the poor and vulnerable, it
would be a disaster".

They continue: "we urge the North and the South to come together
and use the vital need for agreement on the climate issue to
resolve long-standing differences over development and
environment, rather than to allow those differences to stand in
the way of agreement.

The groups, from more than 30 countries, will urge "all developed
countries to contribute immediately to the Trust Funds" set up to
run the negotiations and allow developing countries to properly
participate. Yesterday morning, Michael Zammit Cutajar told
environment groups that the negotiations fund was still short of
at least $US400,000.

The groups will point to a target of stabilizing greenhouse gas
concentrations at levels which will "prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with climate", the recommendation of
the Ministerial Second World Climate Conference. They note that
the Stockholm Environment Institute states that a rise of only
one degree centigrade, or a tenth of that each decade, will
create "widespread destruction of major ecosystems".

o The groups warnings come as the European Community and EFTA
countries wrangle over the implications of British and Japanese
proposals to base the Convention on the voluntary `pledge and
review' system. Countries are divided over whether this will make
it easier or more difficult to achieve binding commitments on
reducing greenhouse gases. Environment groups have severely
criticised `pledge and review' as `hedge and retreat', and a
recipe for losing the political momentum of the negotiating
process. European nations and Japan are concerned to produce a
Convention which the United States, which refuses to contemplate
cuts in its unequalled carbon dioxide emissions, will sign.
Countries such as Switzerland (an EFTA member) are understood to
be unhappy with the European Community's possible readiness to go
along with a pledge and review approach in order to please the
US. Led by the Netherlands, the EC is due to speak on the subject
in plenary at the climate talks today. The next session of the
talks is due to be held in Nairobi in September.

2) CO2 Offsets

By Eco Reporter

Controversy continues over CO2 offsets. On Tuesday, June 18, a
bill entitled the Carbon Dioxide Offsets Policy Efficiency Act of
1991 was introduced in the US Congress.

The bill would require new and modified sources of CO2 emissions
Specifically the proposed legislation imposes an offset
requirement on all new and modified sources that emit more than
$100,000 tons of CO2 per year. The bill also covers utility
sources that are "repowered" or overhauled to increase generating
efficiency, as those plants are likely to be in operation as long
as new plants. In addition, it would require all plants aged 65
or older in 2005 to obtain offsets whether or not they are
repowered in order to discourage unlimited operation of "clunker"

The bill would provide a variety of ways covered plants can
obtain offsets and a mechanism for them to earn credits for
making CO2 reductions. A guiding principle of the draft is to
allow credits only for reductions that would otherwise not be
made and does not dilute gains already made as a result of other
existing or future US federal laws.

Credits can be earned for planting trees or preserving old growth
forests. Existing utilities can earn credits for switching to
less polluting fuels or retrofitting plants to increase
efficiency. Automobile manufacturers could earn credits for
making overall efficiency improvements in their annual fleet of
new cars. Appliance manufacturers can earn credits for making
their appliances more efficient Coal companies could earn credits
by capturing coal bed methane and municipalities from capturing
land fill and sewage methane

The bill would reward conservation and renewable energy
investments and encourage the production of vehicles that run on
alternative fuels which reduce CO2 emissions.

Each year a covered source must monitor and report its CO2
emissions and must purchase or produce enough credits to account
for those emissions. Those interested in selling credits must
demonstrate that they have made real reductions and must have
those reductions certified by the US Environmental Protection
Agency or a state agency as appropriate. Once the credits are
certified, the covered source may purchase these credits in order
to comply with the offset requirements.

The Environmental Defense Fund, which helped craft the bill,
believes that it represents a positive first step in curtailing
the rapid growth of CO2 emissions and offers the opportunity for
the US to begin to address global climate change with a least
cost market-based strategy that requires fossil fuel users to
take account of the environmental consequences of their actions.

3) Working Group 1 Report

Working Group 1 reviewed two outlines prepared by the bureau to
organise the numerous written submissions of delegations. The
morning was spent discussing the proposed outline for text
submitted on commitments under a convention; the afternoon was
devoted to an outline for structuring the submissions on
principles. The co-chairman expects compilations of text to be
prepared by the Secretariat before this sessions ends.

The final portion of the day's meeting was spent discussing what
additional preparation of text should be done by the co-chairman
following the session. Most delegates expressed a desire for some
further condensation of national submissions of proposed text, to
be sent out in advance of the next session in Nairobi. This would
better identify areas of broad agreement as well as differences
between the delegations.

While most delegates appeared to believe the week's discussions
have been productive, the general sentiment was that the next
session in Nairobi should allow for more give-and-take among the
delegates to enable resolution of issues where possible.

4) Malta to host Ocean Meeting

Prof. D.J. Attard, the Maltese Ambassador and Head of Delegation
explained to the conference today his government's concern that
insufficient attention may be being given to the issue of oceans
within the deliberations of the INC. He stressed the major role
which the oceans play in the earth's climate system, as they are
a major reservoir of the earth's greenhouse gases and there is
also the danger of sea-level rise - particularly important to
small island states.

Furthermore, oceans' resources provide a major source of
livelihood in many countries, and they store and transport large
amounts of heat, exchanging this heat with the atmosphere,
affecting regional, seasonal and interannual climate variability.

There is already research being undertaken on some of the issues,
but Malta believes that more global co-operation is required,
especially as developing countries often lack the necessary
resources and manpower.

Prof. Attard announced that his country will host a meeting of
scientific and technical experts from 19 to 23 July 1991, to
review the role of oceans in relation to climate change and
variability. The meeting expects to focus on:

1. Oceans as a source and sink of greenhouse gases;

2. Sea-level rise;

3. Climate change and its impact on the oceans including marine
living and non-living resources;

4. Climate change and variability.

The IOC, the WMO and possibly UNEP, will be coordinating the work
for the preparation of the working document for the Meeting. It
is expected that the results of the Meeting will be submitted to
the INC for consideration.

The opening session of the Meeting will be held on Friday 19 July
1991 at 9:30 AM

Contact: Dr. Simone Scicluna, tel: 0356-235634, fax: 0356-237822,
telex: 147 MINFA MW.

5) Rural and Academic Science

by Agus P. Sari

We need to deflate the arrogance of academic knowledge and
encourage it to be more `down to earth', and at the same time try
to enable rural knowledge to become more widely recognized, not
as mere optional knowledge, but as a true science.

An example for this synthesis is Ann Heidenrich's article (see
yesterday's Eco) concerning solar energy in rural Kenya. Solar
energy is not a simple technology, but if this way to produce
electricity is appropriate for rural people in Africa, it proves
that appropriate technology may be a sophisticated one, as long
as the basic knowledge is understandable to the local people.
This kind of initiative must be fostered everywhere around the
globe, because solar energy is renewable, reasonably cheap, and
certainly clean. In terms of scale, these small scale sources
avoid the need to build large power plants (10,000 units, average
wattage 5W, will avoid the need for one 50KW diesel power plant).
This contribution to the energy supply is significant.

In the Philippines, 38% of the commercial energy comes from
renewable and geothermal (894 MW) energy sources, and it also
comes from clean, cheap, safe and small-decentralized sources.

These cases make it clear that developing countries do have the
capability to leapfrog to more environmentally sound development,
and do not have to follow the industrialized path to hard and
energy-intensive industrialization. This kind of initiative,
especially the Kenyan one, we can call `ruralizing' academic

In Indonesia, where more than 90% of her people eat rice, there
is a simple technology developed by rural people to make the
cooking energy rice more energy-efficient. Instead of cooking the
raw rice until it is fully cooked, some people cook the raw rice
until it is half-cooked, and while the rice is still hot, they
put it into a special cotton container (which costs only one US
dollar). The heat of the rice will then finish the cooking. This
can save 50% of the energy used to cook the rice, compared to the
conventional method. If it is combined with an energy-efficient
stove, it can save almost 70%. This kind of technology can be
implemented everywhere, in both rural and urban situations.
Academic scientists have to start to look at this technology as a
real science: we can call this `academizing' rural technology.

The problem is, many donor agencies are only interested in large,
more centralized projects, and to some extent they require
complicated and sophisticated technology that only can be
provided by developed countries - where the fund to `assist'
comes from. Those involved in technology transfer - or
cooperation, or whatever it is - have to consider this kind of
potential technology development, and those are more "in harmony
with local social, economical, and ecological realities." (Thanks
to my colleague Abou Thiam from Senegal for this description).
For developing countries, where most of the people still live in
rural areas, it is important to have take the `softer' path to
energy supply, and to pay more attention to end-use energy
analysis. People don't need energy. They only need the service
that can be provided by energy. And the softer the path followed,
the more demand-growth can be reduced: this in turn will decrease
the potential for emitting excessive greenhouse gases, have a
favourable impact on economic growth, and release the citizens of
developing countries from the new dependency created by wrongly
managed technology transfer.

Agus P. Sari is the Coordinator of the Working Group on Energy in
WALHI, Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

6) Climate and Equity

by Anna Torres

In the negotiations for climate change, the fundamental issue
being raised is restoring balance in global responsibilities,
both for the environment and for social and economic equity.
However, proposals to set things right need to be viewed beyond
financial transfers and technological cooperation.

In the Philippines for example, destruction of forests is often
attributed to small farmers. While 30% of the population,
including millions of indigenous people, forces a subsistence
from the uplands, the large commercial logging operations have
reaped the profits while upland communities have remained at
subsistence levels.

Efforts to reduce forest destruction are there, but fall short of
their targets, mainly because they do not address root issues.
The major factor behind pressures on the uplands is unbalanced
access to land, and subsequently, lack of control by communities
of resources in their area.

This has its implications on Philippine attempts to improve its
energy policy. Although still mostly dependent on imported and
local oil and coal, renewable and geothermal energy resources
have supplied an increasingly important part of the total energy
supply. Though relatively cleaner than coal and oil, these
sources have been prone to public opposition.

For instance, since 1987, geothermal explorations in the Mindanao
has been pushed to catalyze industrial development. This was,
however, met with serious protests from six major
ethno-linguistic groups, who forged a {*filter*} compact to which they
are bound to die, if needed, in defending their ancestral lands.

Both energy and social arguments are valid, but the
socio-cultural costs are too great to ignore. The conflict may
well reappear in climate change's other aspects, where seemingly
bright ideas may eventually contradict the objectives they are
supposed to meet.

In order to realize the visions which are ultimately behind the
call for CO2 reduction, control of land and natural resources
must be given to communities. What better incentive could there
be for sustained and appropriate forest management, than to
reassure communities that they will be the primary beneficiaries
of its long term production cycles?

On a global scale, industrialized countries have been called upon
to commit targets for emissions reduction, and acknowledge
responsibility for providing resources as appropriate. To
effectively match the demands from developed countries, the Third
World needs to broaden its perspectives to link its situation
with global environmental issues, and lend them more priority
among day to day problems. As importantly, developing country
governments need to work on a framework for economic and social
justice, and adopt the best sustainable development strategies.

7) The Ecological Debt

As countries slowly begin to put their negotiating cards on the
table, it is time for the North to recall that it owes the world
an ecological debt. Some negotiators from the North are already
tired of hearing about this debt. It takes the form of the vast
part of the excess of greenhouse gases which has accumulated in
the atmosphere through the industrial development of the North.
But, to borrow a phrase from the Indian Ambassador, no lasting
`global compact' will be achieved unless a Convention takes it
fully into account. For the South it is not a question to be
addressed after a Convention is framed but in the negotiation of
the Convention itself.

Countries from the South with about four fifths of the world
population, are well aware that they responsible for only about
one third of present global emissions, and far less of past
emissions. On a per capita basis, fossil fuels emissions from
rich countries are an average seven to ten times higher than from
the Third World.

Faced with these facts, countries such as many of those in Africa
already facing serious problems of desertification and drought -
which in their case threaten not just grape-growing, ski-resorts
or the green-ness of lawns but their entire agricultural
production and the lives of their populations - can hardly be
expected to shoulder any of the burden until the main polluters
of the North take on their fair share by vastly reducing

Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations of the South know
very well that they need finance and information to take a proper
part in the negotiations, and to make the commitments to
sustainable development routes that will limit the size of the
necessary increase in their own emissions, the possible
enhancement of sinks and the adaptation measures which are also
needed. Yet in most developing countries the shortage of relevant
information and scientific expertise is still acute. Even to
build sustainable political will in those countries, requires a
great investment in public education. Nations who have to cut
back on schooling because of paying off foreign debts are hardly
in a position to start public awareness campaigns on greenhouse

It is also time for the North to recognize that the technologies
which need to be promoted in the South must be based on local
social economic and ecological realities. Usually this will mean
that the technologies are themselves developed and produced

Climate negotiations are conducted by delegates from all over the
world, dressed in equally smart Italian suits. The equality is
however, only suit-deep. The world needs a global compact to
avert climate change but this time the bargain has to be a fair
one, or it will not get made at all.


By Eco Reporter

The UN General Assembly resolution setting up the 1992 UN
Conference on Environment and Development identified climate
change as a major concern of the Conference. Since the adoption
of the UNCED Resolution, the General Assembly established the
INC. Since that time, there has been significant discussion as to
the respective responsibilities of the PrepCom for UNCED and the
INC. At the last UNCED PrepCom, a number of delegations argued
that in light of the creation of the INC, the PrepCom should not
spend its time on climate change. A protracted negotiation
ensued, resulting in a compromise requesting the UNCED
Secretariat to report on the linkages of climate with a variety
of sectors. To date, there is still not a clear meeting of the
minds as to the mandate of the UNCED Secretariat and the role of
the PrepCom on climate change and relationship to the
INC process The UNCED Secretariat appears still to be positioning
UNCED to step in if the climate change convention negotiations
fail to achieve any significant commitments on CO2 reductions and
energy. Hopefully, the UNCED PrepCom can play a reinforcing role
for the INC, encouraging relevant international bodies such as
the World Bank, the IMF and the GATT to play meaningful roles in
reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

9) UCS - Union of Concerned Scientists

by Alden Meyer

The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1969 by several
faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who were
concerned about the impact of advanced military technology on
society. Since then, UCS has maintained a two-track program on
arms control and national security policy and U.S. energy policy.

In the early 1970s, UCS was the first U.S. organization to raise
serious questions about the safety of nuclear power, and is
widely respected as the nation's leading independent critic of
the nuclear industry. Recognizing the environmental and national
security risks of continued dependence on fossil fuels, UCS
undertook a comprehensive evaluation of U.S. energy policy that
resulted in publication of the book "Energy Strategies: Toward a
Solar Future" in 1980.

Throughout the 1980s, UCS maintained an ongoing program in the
areas of nuclear power safety and national energy policy. In
1988, growing concern about the damaging long-term effects of
global warming led to establishment of the UCS Climate Change and
Energy Program. The program draws upon UCS' policy research,
public education, and advocacy capabilities in seeking the
fundamental transformation of U.S. energy policy.

The program has already produced three major studies: "Cool
Energy: The Renewable Solution to Global Warming," "Steering A
New Course; Transportation, Energy, and the Environment," and the
"Advanced Reactor Study," which examines the safety risks
associated with proposed new designs for nuclear reactors. UCS
also commissioned two national public opinion surveys in 1989 and
1990, conducted by the chief pollster for George Bush's 1988
Presidential campaign, the surveys demonstrated overwhelming
public support for energy efficiency and renewable energy as the
cornerstones of the country's energy future.

In early 1990, concerned by the failure of President Bush to
follow through on his famous campaign promise to fight the
greenhouse effect with the "White House effect," UCS garnered the
signatures of 55 Nobel laureates and more than 700 members of the
prestigious National Academy of Sciences on an "Appeal By
American Scientists to Prevent Global Warming," delivered to the
President just before the February, 1990 session of the IPCC. The
appeal warned that "uncertainty is no excuse for complacency,"
and called on the President to take the actions needed on energy
policy and other areas to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

UCS has developed an extensive public education program on global
warming and energy issues.that has included lectures, seminars
and action programs on over 500 college campuses, distribution of
a teaching guide to over 30,000 U.S. science teachers, and
production of the video "Greenhouse Crisis: The American
Response." UCS also maintains a speaker's bureau of scientists
and energy experts who made over 200 presentations to civic
organizations, business groups, and environmental groups in 1990

UCS has been active on the international front, serving as the
United States coordinator for the Climate Action Network, and
working in coalition with other NGOs in the IPCC process, the
Houston and (upcoming) London G-7 summits, and the climate treaty
negotiation process.

10) Forest Principles Ring Hollow

By Ken Snyder

US environmental groups have given an unsatisfactory grade to the
US Government for their recently released "Proposal on Forests
Principles." The proposal, prepared in time for circulation at
the G-7 Economic Summit in July and the 3rd Preparatory Committee
meeting of UNCED in August, represents a compilation of ideas on
stewardship and general principles, to be considered by
governments as a first step towards a global agreement on forests.

The proposed principles can be broadly interpreted to mean almost

The complete lack of reference, however, to the importance of
protecting primary forests, significant for their social,
biological and cultural benefits, or to funding mechanisms and
action items to back the proposed principles, suggests a lack of
commitment to forest conservation."

In a letter to US Secretary of State, James Baker, a consortium
of six major environmental groups in the US, (the Environmental
Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Audubon Society, National
Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resource Defence Council and the
Sierra Club), identified three steps for the US to take.

1) To secure conservation of primary forests in any forests
agreement, the U.S. Forest Principles should be revised to
include conservation of primary forests. Only improved principles
will lay the groundwork for development of meaningful commitments
to conserve and protect their forests.

2) To show leadership by example, the Administration should put
forward a plan to protect remaining primary forests in the US. If
the US is not able to stop such destruction at home, when it has
less than 15 percent of primary forest left (less than 5 percent
if Alaska is excluded), it cannot expect developing countries to
curb such destruction.

3) To gain leadership on both climate change and forest
negotiations, the US should take a more constructive position in
current global climate negotiations. It should actively seek to
reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon
dioxide, and at the same time strengthen the link with the
conservation of primary forests as carbon reserves. If the US
holds up progress on climate change negotiations, it is too easy
for developing countries to hold up progress on preservation of
forests. This ensures business as usual for all governments
concerned, but a tragic loss for present and future generations.
The groups are still waiting for a response to their letter.

11) Mass C{*filter*}Death

By Eco Reporter

Another episode of mass c{*filter*}bleaching has been reported by
French scientist and c{*filter*}reef expert, Bernard Salvat in Tahiti,
Morrea and other Society Islands in the South Pacific.

In the summer and fall of 1990, c{*filter*}bleaching was reported on a
massive scale in the reefs of several Caribbean islands, Florida
and the Bahamas.

Scientists have associated elevated sea surface temperature with
the bleaching which can starve and eventually kill corals if the
events last long enough.

Reports of bleaching in the South Pacific in 1991 have been
limited to the Society Islands where the was surface
temperaturesare about 1!C above normal.

Whether the mass c{*filter*}bleaching episodes of the late 80's and
early 90's are a signal of global warming is not clear, but the
episodes suggest the vulnerability of ecosystems to climate change.

Dozens of scientists gathered at a workshop in Miami, Florida
organized by the US Government last week to compare observation
and theories on the causes and effects of c{*filter*}bleaching. The
workshop was organized after US Senator Albert{*filter*}held hearings
on the c{*filter*}bleaching episode last October.

ECO trusts that when environment ministers gather in November -
and when the partner to the Convention for the Protection of the
Environment and Natural Resource of the South Pacific Ocean meet
in November for the first time they will give due attention to
this and to any related climate problems.

12) WRI and the Greenhouse Index?

by Patrick McCulley

The most recent annual report from the influential
Washington-based World Resources Institute, however, claims that
`sources of greenhouse gases are distributed widely around the
world with both developed and developing countries sharing major
responsibility for emissions'. WRI define the EC as one
industrialized country and then claim that of the `ten largest
emitters' in 1987 `half are industrialized and half are
developing countries.'

The `Greenhouse Index' on which WRI base these claims, has been
developed by taking an estimate of each country's 1987 emissions
of carbon dioxide, methane and CFCs -11 and -12. The amount of
these emissions which remain in the atmosphere at the end of the
year is then estimated, and these `net' emission figures are
multiplied by each gas's effectiveness in trapping heat in the
atmosphere relative to CO2 and the results combined to give a
single `index score' for each country.

WRI claim that their index is `straight-forward and readily
applied by policy-makers . . . [it] . . . is ideal for diplomatic
purposes and could serve as the basis for international

WRI's net emissions are not `net' in the sense that the word is
normally used in climate negotiations - total emissions minus the
amount of gases absorbed by a country's forests and other sinks.
Instead they are calculating by multiplying a country's total
annual emissions of each gas by the proportion of the total
global emissions of that gas which remain in the atmosphere after
one year and is not absorbed by global sinks such as oceans and
forests. This is equivalent to giving each country a share in the
global sinks for each gas proportionate to the amount of the gas
which that country emits.

For this method to be meaningful over a period of years, it must
be assumed that the proportion of each gas remaining in the
atmosphere each year stays more or less constant. However, this
will not be the case, and so the weighting given to each gas in
the index will tend to vary widely - although the climatic effect
of a given amount of each gas may be more or less constant.


The most vociferous attack on the index has come from Anil
Agarwal and Sunita Narain of the Indian Centre for Science and
the Environment (CSE) who claim that it is `designed to bolster
both foreign and domestic policy interests of Western nations
whose governments would like to convince domestic
environmentalists that their nations are not alone to blame and
cannot do much locally unless they rope in the hapless Third

CSE believe that for reasons of equity global sinks should be
apportioned on a per capita, rather than a national basis. When
recalculated on this basis, WRI's raw emissions data indicates
that developing countries are responsible for only 33 per cent of
global warming, rather than the 47 per cent calculated by WRI.

WRI's insistence on combining data of very different reliability
in a single index means that what reliable data that are
available are hidden by guesstimates and assumptions. The
apparent precision of WRI's league table is in fact spurious and
totally misleading. Similarly, putting all emissions data
together in a single figure means that no distinction can be made
between `luxury' and `survival' emissions or between emissions
which can easily be controlled and those which will be more
difficult to deal with.  Patrick McCully is co-editor of the
magazine The Ecologist

13) Bangladesh: Threatened by Global Warming and Distorted

By Our Asian Correspondent

Bangladesh coastal area was devastated by the unprecedented
cyclone and tidal wave of 29 April 1991. The cyclone developed a
wind velocity of 235 km per hour with a tidal wave with a height
over 7 meters. This was the most severe cyclonic event of
recorded history in terms of wind velocity. The loss of life was
over 100,000.

Lots of people, including many of the vulnerable coastal area are
asking the question, why was the event so severe?

Rising Oceans

Bangladesh is going to be one of the most vulnerable countries to
sea level rise. A Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies study
has shown that for a one-meter sea level rise, more than 16
percent of the country's population will be inundated. This will
threaten the world's largest mangrove ecosystem - the Sundarbans
- and affect over 20 percent of agricultural productivity. These
will be some of the effects from the rising oceans.

Melting Mountains

An equally severe but different type of impact is likely to
result from the enhanced melting of the Himalayan ice due to
global warming and the predicted enhanced precipitation. All the
extra water is going to flow through the river systems: Ganges
and Brahmaputra. Enhanced sea level and thus loss of river flow
and increased water volume will also inundate many areas inland
beyond the coastal areas.

Environmental Nightmare

The situation is going to be further complicated by a proposed
plan under the auspices of the World Bank and supported by
several donors: the so-called Flood Action Plan (FAP). This
non-plan is a set of studies which aims to embank some of the
rivers. The plan pays some lip service to environmental
considerations, through the so-called environmental study (no.
16) funded by USAID. With less than two percent of the overall
funds, this study has been largely overtaken by events.

The other important natural resource related study concerns the
impact of the FAP on fisheries (funded by British ODA). A US
fisheries expert recently stated, "What the cyclone is for the
coastal areas of Bangladesh, the Flood Action Plan will be for
the fisheries resources in Bangladesh." (10% of the country's 112
million people depend on fisheries for livelihoods.)

14) India will not accept "Figleaf" convention

Interview with Ambassador His Excellency Mr C Dasgupta of India

* India has made the running among developing countries at the
Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Negotiations
For A Climate convention. Here Ambassador C Dasgupta explains
some of the thinking behind India's proposals for a climate
convention (see Eco:, June 20), which attracted support from many
NGOs and developing countries.

by Eco Staff

? Eco: How is the climate issue perceived in India today?

o Dasgupta: The Government of India, large numbers of NGOs,
academic and research communities, and a sizeable section of
Indian public opinion have been fully sensitized to the issue's
importance. The issue is largely seen in global terms rather than
in relation to local or regional climatic change. Regional
studies are still at an early stage.

? Eco: Will India's draft Convention be further discussed in the
South Asian region?

o Dasgupta: It will certainly be discussed in the context of the
G-77. However, I do not know how much it will be discussed at
other regional level meetings. The South Asian Regional
Cooperation Council has focused on the issue, and is considering
a paper.

? Eco: What do you hope or expect to see by June 1992?

o Dasgupta: We hope to see a meaningful convention: not a form of
words that amounts to very little - what India is looking for is
a convention that tries to address the issue, not a "figleaf"
convention. Any such convention must be framed in the context of
development and equity. We do call on developed countries to
recognize that. This is fundamental. Some called our paper an
`extreme position'. We don't see it as extreme at all. We see it
as compatible with taking a meaningful first step to commitments.
As to Protocols: really it's unrealistic to expect them to be
agreed prior to 1992, particularly on carbon dioxide emissions.

However, there is a responsibility on developed nations to accept
cutting CO2 as a first step.

? Eco: The Indian paper talked of long term targets in terms of
equal per capita emissions. Do you suggest a principle or a firm
commitment to globally equal per capita emissions?

o Dasgupta: The Indian position on a per capita formulation has
received support from the Chinese delegation, and the notion has
also been mentioned in the French paper. We are looking for
acceptance, in principle, of the idea of convergence. This means
that, while industrialized country emissions decrease, ours will
inevitably increase in the process of development. Precise routes
for convergence curves can be discussed subsequently.

? Eco: What of the population issue - some Northern countries and
NGOs say per capita emission measures are an unacceptable
invitation to increase populations?

o Dasgupta: What the developed countries are doing is largely to
expropriate the global sinks. They are taking them for free and
then saying that if you are breathing, you are part of the
problem. But the real difficulty is not simply all emissions of
CO2, it is the excessive emission of CO2: that which exceeds the
capacity of the sinks. And that excess is almost entirely the
responsibility of the developed countries. Moreover, you
obviously can't have a legally binding international agreement
which stipulates that governments must achieve certain population
levels. Short of genocide, it can't be done. That is not to say
of course, that countries do not have a responsibility for things
like family planning. Per capita is, basically, an equity issue.

? Eco: Won't the market will take care of convergence?

o Dasgupta: Speaking personally, not as a representative of
India, I feel there is a certain dogma about market mechanisms
that assumes that they are the solutions to all problems.
However, `market mechanisms' are an excellent instrument of
policy but a bad guide. Tradeable emission rights should be
explored. However, such a concept will never be acceptable if it
is phrased in terms of selling such rights; emission rights can
only be rented for limited periods of time. Any such system must
provide mechanisms and incentives for maintaining and expanding

? Eco: What do you think of `Pledge and Review'?

o Dasgupta: We feel that the idea is premature. We first need
some level of objective criteria by which to judge the level of
the pledge, and we can then review the pledges on that basis. If
you leave it to countries to make pledges, on what basis are
those pledges to be judged? Unless the Parties draw up these
criteria any `expert' group will be unrepresentative and will
once again come up with systems designed by the usual developed
countries, systems that suit only their ends.

? Eco: Your paper had a very open-ended definition of technology
transfer what do you really intend?

o Dasgupta: Our definition is based on the notion that
environmentally sound technologies are country specific. Thus,
countries should be invited to identify what, in their context,
are environmentally sound technologies. Of course this does not
mean they are asking for a blank cheque - the result would be
that developing countries put forward ideas for technologies
deserving to be funded, and then the Parties would have a
mechanism for determining whether the project went ahead. But we
don't need any more so-called experts from the North telling us
what they think are universally applicable appropriate
technologies, especially when they ignore country-specific
factors such as the varying supply of labour and capital.

15) The US Problem- A Summary

by ECO's US Correspondent

Mr. Reinstein, the chief US negotiator, has been unusually
relaxed this week in Geneva. This is not only because of the fine
weather, but more importantly because other delegations have
refrained from their usual practice of castigating the US for its
indefensible position as the only wealthy industrialized country
yet to make a commitment to stabilize or reduce its CO2
emissions. The friendly atmosphere in Geneva is not the result of
the US changing its position in any substantive way, although Mr.
Reinstein has been artful in restating the official line in as
inoffensive manner as possible. The US was quite blunt in its
March 15 submission to the INC, however, stating "Specific
commitments for emissions reductions should not be included in
the framework convention..." (A/AC.237/Misc.1/Add.1, page 94).


The US has escaped direct criticism as the diplomats at the
second session of the INC have deliberately avoided pointing out
that the US position is unacceptable. Yet this message was
clearly conveyed during Tuesday's debate on commitments, when
virtually every other OECD country restated its own emission
target and asserted that specific commitments by industrialized
countries must be included in the convention signed at the Rio
Conference in 1992. This reaffirmation was welcomed by
environmental NGOs attending the conference, who noted that
without targets and timetables the current negotiations would
result in "one step forward and two steps back" from the progress
made during the last three years since the Toronto Conference.

Many delegates have made efforts to try to accommodate the
concerns of the U so that a convention can achieve universal
acceptance in 1992. Particularly noteworthy is the recent private
attempt by the UK to craft a proposal for a phased comprehensive
approach, following suggestions put forward by the U S. But UK
Environment Secretary Heseltine was rebuffed when he visited Bush
Administration officials earlier this month. Apparently the US
will not even take `yes' for an answer, demonstrating that it is
not currently prepared to make any meaningful commitment,
comprehensive or otherwise.

Pledge and Review

Other OECD countries will soon face a clear choice, even if they
can avoid confronting it at this negotiating session. They can
either capitulate to the US by adopting "Pledge and Review"
instead of real commitments, or they can move forward with
preparing an agreement on specific commitments, even if that
means leaving the United States out for the time being.


No one can predict now what President Bush will do if he is faced
with a stark choice of signing a convention with specific
commitments or walking away from Rio with nothing to show for the
effort of getting there. President Bush has not had personally to
face up to the global warming issue since the 1988 election
campaign, when he promised to combat the greenhouse effect with
the White House effect. US NGOs will ensure that this promise is
not forgotten by the American people or Mr Bush's Democratic
challenger during next years re-election campaign.

Chances that the US will move are increased by Mr. Sununnu's
weakened condition, and will increase further if he is eventually
given the boot. Meanwhile, study after study is piling up which
show that the US could substantially cut its CO2 emissions at a
net profit. And at least some US companies are beginning to wake
up to the fact that they will be left behind technologically if
the rest of the industrialized world moves to implement CO2 cuts
while the US puts its head in the sand.

Mr Bush will not have to face up to his own commitment during the
1992 campaign, however, unless other countries stick to theirs.

16) Country Studies - a potential delaying tactic

by Eco Staff

One more potential delaying tactic was unmasked in yesterday's
Working Group I session. The U.S.had promoted the concept of
country studies that must be completed before there can be
agreement to substantive commitments to greenhouse gas emissions

Fortunately, delegates from Canada and other countries pointed
out the fallacy in that position. The U.S. attempted to use a
developing country activity to shield itself and other
industrialised countries from substantive commitments in the 1992
convention. Studies of developing country situations need not
delay progress in developed countries.

The concept of country studies is a good one, so long as it is
not used as a delaying tactic. Such studies can greatly assist
developing countries in compiling emissions inventories and in
identifying opportunities for improvements in energy efficiency,
production processes, and other sources of emissions.

The concept deserves support, but it should not be sanctioned as
an excuse for developed countries to delay making significant and
early reductions to their own greenhouse gas emissions.


This is the final edition of Eco for this plenary session. The
staff would like to thank: Chris Rose, for his tireless (if
savage) editing,, Malcolm Sutherland (for setting and trying to
keep to schedules), Alastair Sieghart (for time, love and labour
with the Macintoshes) and Debbie Good, for proof-reading, typing
and anything and everything that she did during the two weeks.
And thanks to the NGOs who helped us. You know who you are...

ECO is edited by Chris Rose; production editors Malcolm
Sutherland and Alister Sieghart

ECO wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the following:
Apple Computer - Industrade AG, Wallisellen
AVEC INFORMATIQUE SA, Route des Acacias, 47 Geneva
Intercontinental Hotel, Wagons Lits

ECO (name as in 'SWCC') has been produced for EDF and others as a
Media Natura project with the generous support of the Apple
Computer Division, Industrade AG, Wallisellen and Avec
Informatique SA, Geneva.

Software support has been donated by Aldus, Applelink, Computers
Unlimited, Microsoft, Sitka. (any others).

Design by Akel Minott, London; Production Editors Alister
Sieghart, Shades & Characters and Malcolm Sutherland, Recruit

Electronic mail distribution coordinator Lelani Arris, EcoNet
Energy and Climate Information Exchange (US), supported by a
grant from the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation.

Project Management Chris Bligh , Media Natura, 21 Tower Street,
London WC2H 9NS Tel (+44) 71 240 2936 Fax (+44) 71 240 2291.


For enquiries and response to ECO:
ECO Editorial Staff
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Telephone: (+41) 22 740 0541 / 734 6574
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For Press enquiries to particular NGO spokespersons:
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Every issue of ECO will be posted in full to the en.climate and conferences on EcoNet (APC) and the sci.environment
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Or contact support staff at one of the following APC Networks:

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To find out more about Media Natura please write to Media
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Tue, 14 Dec 1993 14:03:00 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. ECO GENEVA (INC) #6 June 25, 1991 (

2. ECO GENEVA (INC) #5 June 24, 1991 (

3. ECO GENEVA (INC) #3 June 20, 1991 (

4. ECO GENEVA (INC) #4 June 23, 1991 (

5. ECO GENEVA (INC) #7 June 26, 1991 (

6. ECO GENEVA (INC) #4A June 23, 1991

7. ECO GENEVA (INC) #2A June 19, 1991

8. ECO GENEVA (INC) #1 June 18, 1991

9. ECO GENEVA (INC) #2 June 19, 1991

10. ECO GENEVA #10 - Dec 20, 1991 (55K)

11. ECO GENEVA #8 - Dec 18, 1991 (29K)

12. ECO Geneva (INC6) #2 Dec 10 92 (27

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