Melinda Kimble, Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Mark Hambley, Special Negotiator for Climate Change, and Dirk Forrister, Chairman of the White House Task Force on Climate Change, U.S. Delegation to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties-4, Press Briefing, Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 9, 1998

OPENING STATEMENT BY MS. KIMBLE: Thank you, Susan. Well, thank
you too for coming to our press briefing tonight. I think this is
the beginning of the last leg of the race we've been running here
in Buenos Aires. It's certainly a very important beginning today,
and I think we saw some evident progress in SBSTA where we
reached a number of decisions this afternoon that were very
important, including one on how we are going to approach land use
changes and forestry, and also a decision on how we are going to
treat gases that are relevant to global warming but also have
relevance for the Montreal Protocol. And, in addition, we reached
another major decision on research and observation. And I might
ask my colleagues Mark Hambley and Dirk Forrister if they have
anything to add. Mark?

AMB. HAMBLEY: Thank you very much, Melinda. That's the good news
and some of the other news concerns those items where we have not
as yet been able to reach closure. And those include such issues
as the flexibility mechanisms; as you know the mechanisms topic
is being handled by a Contact Group which meets again this
evening at 8:00 p.m. We understand that there is a new proposal
which will probably be presented at that time on behalf of the
G77 and China, and we will have to take that under advisement
after we see that, but we are hopeful that we will gradually move
that towards closure over the next few days.

In addition there is the question of technology transfer. Indeed
that's an issue of very great importance to the developing
countries, as well as to ourselves. That's an issue where we have
gone back and forth over the past couple of days -- some days
very optimistically and other days a little pessimistically --
that we'll be able to reach a decision which would allow us to
move forward with a decision which will be useful, and practical
and realistic. But I think the last word I had is that is moving
along quite well now. We are not really sure whether we will have
that decision taken by November 10th, the deadline imposed by the
two Co-Chairs to wrap up the decisions, or whether or not that
may indeed pass on to the Ministers for their consideration.

In addition there are two other issues of importance which also
will have to have additional guidance. One is on the adequacy of
commitments under the Convention -- this is what they call
Article 4.2 (a) and (b). This unfortunately more or less came to
non-decision over the weekend and that is now being considered by
the two Co-Chairs to decide how that will be handled, and that
will probably go to the Ministers for their consideration. The
other issue which is a topic of a Contact Group at the moment is
on the impacts on climate change of the economic impacts and the
climatic impacts -- that also is an issue which has produced
quite a difference of view between Annex I countries on the one
hand and some non-Annex I countries on the other. That is also an
issue which we will have to see where we get on that, and whether
that also will go to the Ministers for review.

So we are talking now as we move towards the Ministerial which
begins in two days time of several issues which may indeed be
sent to them for their consideration, but it is still too early I
think to decide what's actually going to be put on their plate.
But I can just assure that all delegations here are earnestly
working very hard so that our Ministers can come and enjoy a
little bit of the tango -- it's one of the nicer aspects of
Buenos Aires rather than having to complete our work. Thank you.

MR. FORRISTER: I won't add a lot except to say that we are also
pleased that the reinforcements arrived for our Delegation, and
Under Secretary Eizenstat is working in another room right now in
a high level roundtable on flexibility mechanisms. And we are
also very, very pleased to have Under Secretary Frank Loy, the
new Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, who is with us
as well, as well as a few other senior administration officials
who will be helping out in the numerous set of side meetings, so
we have more folks with us this time.

MS. KIMBLE: So, we're ready for your questions.

we have seen some stalemate, a deadlock, in the progress of the
argument mainly because China, India and Saudi Arabia insisted
that they need more time to discuss each element step-by-step.
But at the end of last week, we saw some differences among the
non-Annex I nations. Honduras and other Latin American countries
started to say that the CDM mechanism discussions should start
first to implement that mechanism in an urgent manner. And today,
as you pointed out, G77 and China countries is going to present
their own proposal in this mechanism contact group. Do you think
that these differences amongst the non-Annex I nations are now
contributing to make more flexible the position of non-Annex I
nations in the overall discussions, and even that it would
stimulate their discussion about the so-called voluntary
commitment issue?

AMB. HAMBLEY: I think one of the features of the discussions thus
far which has impressed us, the Delegation of the United States,
has been the manner in which several countries from our non-Annex
I parties have introduced proposals actually on the table,
proposals which indeed merit considerable advice by all of us.
And I think that it's something which we consider being a great
contribution to this process. I think although indeed some of
these proposals look as if they are creating differences among
the G77 and China, I think they are perhaps  more reflective of
the increased interest among this very large group of countries -
- some 135 countries after all are members of the G77 and China -
- I think that the fact that they are going to be presenting us
with another proposal; I hope this proposal will be a useful one.
But in any case I think that the fact that so many different
groups of countries -- the African group, various Latin American
countries, Mexico and others -- have submitted proposals on the
table, something which is good. I think it does speak not to an
atmosphere of flexibility, but I think an atmosphere in terms of
cooperation. I would hope that cooperation will translate into
further progress as we move forward throughout this week.

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT CHANGE REPORT: I was wondering if you could
outline the agreement that was reached on land use and forestry
and the views of the U.S. Delegation on that agreement.

MS. KIMBLE: Yes, I think that's a very interesting agreement.
First of all, we agreed to decisions taken in Bonn on the carbon
stock approach to 3.3 in the Protocol. We agreed to a workshop in
the United States focusing on Article 3.4 that will be held
sometime in the spring. We have put out a request for submission,
submissions from governments on policy and procedural issues.
These are issues that the special report will not address. And
the submissions will be compiled by SBSTA and available for SBSTA
10. We've agreed to make recommendations that the first COP after
the IPCC's special report is issued to the COP/MOP on Article 3.3
definitions, rules, modalities and guidelines necessary to add
additional activities under Article 3.4. And we've also agreed to
make recommendations that the first COP "practicable" after the
special report, to adopt guidelines for the COP/MOP for inventory
information needed in connection with these articles. This is a
pretty comprehensive decision. It  puts the work on two tracks --
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific track
and the policy track in the SBSTA -- and we think this is clearly
illustrative of the kind of progress we can make when we get good
information fed into the process, and we allow enough time for
delegates to understand all the issues that are at stake.

DAILY ENVIRONMENT REPORT: Can you likewise talk about the
decision on the gases that have global warming potential and are
ozone depleters?

MS. KIMBLE: The big decision on the gases is an information
gathering exercise, and a reference point that makes very clear
that the HFC's which have impact in the Montreal Protocol, but
are actually controlled by this Convention, are going to be
managed from this Convention. And so that's basically the sum
total of that. This was a very good and innovative decision, I
think. And I'd like to point out that it was a decision
coordinated out of the JUSCANZ Group, led by Switzerland, so it
also shows the power of good coordination within Annex I in a
group like JUSCANZ.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Can you tell us what factors would have
to change before the President would sign the Kyoto Protocol?

MR. FORRISTER: We've for a long time said that we intended to
sign the Protocol before the signing deadline, but we've made no
judgments at this stage as to specifically when between now and
March 15th, I guess it is, when the signing deadline will take
place. And I have no news to report to you tonight.

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