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PROGRAMME 1: ATMOSPHERE

5. The Assistant Executive Director introduced the programme on atmosphere and climate change by noting the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on 1 January 1989. Nonetheless, he observed, because risks to the ozone layer now appeared to be greater than had been predicted, stricter control than that specified by the Protocol would be necessary; to this end, further scientific assessment under wt40 and UNEP auspices was already under way and would continue. An important step in dealing with this issue had been the establishment by WHO and UNEP of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in November 1988; its first report would be completed by mid-1990. Another aspect of UNEP’s work on climate change was the World Climate Impact Studies Programme (WCIP), under which the development of national climate impact programmes was being considered and, in some developing countries, was being assisted.

6. All representatives who spoke expressed support for UNEP's work concerning climate change and agreed that it should continue as a priority area in the programme.

7. There was general support for developing a global framework convention on climate change and many representatives suggested that the Executive Director, with the Secretary-General of WKO, establish a mechanism suitable for negotiating the elements of such a convention, taking into account the work of IPCC and other relevant national and international activities.

8. Some representatives maintained that this process should begin immediately while others cautioned against moving too fast. They held that work on a legal instrument dealing with climate change should be based on firm scientific evidence and that time should be allowed for IPCC to present its report to WHO and UNEP.

9. A representative who was also Chairman of Working Group 3 (Response Strategies) of IPCC reported on the outcome of a recent meeting at which the Group had decided to prepare a paper to address, inter alia, the need for and nature of a possible framework convention on climate and to identify elements of such a convention. A number of other representatives commended the work of IPCC and its working groups and endorsed the decision to address these aspects, which they considered valuable for negotiating an eventual convention on climate change.

10. One representative stated that IPCC should continue to serve in an advisory capacity to UNEP and WHO and that the Panel alone should not constitute the forum for developing a framework convention; that task should be left to UNEP in consultation with W140.

11. Many representatives of developing countries expressed concern about their ability to participate fully in scientific programmes on the atmosphere, including the work of IPCC. Others said that the fragmentation of the work of IPCC through the proliferation of its committees, working groups and sub-working groups made this problem especially difficult for their countries. There was a need, they maintained, for technical, financial and other types of assistance. It was also important to tap the scientific potential of developing countries and to ensure that their analytical capability was enhanced in addressing the national and regional implications of climate change. Several representatives from industrialised countries agreed that the full participation of developing countries in the work of IPCC and in relevant scientific programmes was vital and expressed their willingness to provide assistance.

12. One representative stressed the need for all countries to determine how

their national strategies would fit into an international framework and urged

them to identify what practical measures might best accelerate the programme

to safeguard climate.

13. Another representative said that one immediate practical measure to limit climate change was to accelerate the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances controlled by the Montreal Protocol. She referred to the Helsinki Declaration in which more than 80 Governments had agreed that this measure should be fully implemented by the year 2000, if not before, and stressed the necessity of meeting the needs of developing countries by providing technology and affordable, safe substitutes.

14. One representative said that although she welcomed the spirit and intent of the Helsinki Declaration, she had reservations about its wording, as it left some doubts as to implications for developing countries. She noted, too, that the Declaration had been finalized at an informal meeting hosted by the Government of Finland and later noted at the First Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, at which her country had been only an observer.

15. Several representatives pointed out that it was important for developing countries unable to participate in the work of IPCC to be kept fully informed of all its activities. Others drew attention to the need to avoid duplication within IPCC and overlap with the work of other bodies.

16. Referring to the role played by forests in regulating the composition of the atmosphere, several representatives of developing countries spoke of their ability to assist by preventing deforestation in their countries and by implementing reforestation programmes.

17. Several specialized agencies of the United Nations system spoke of the importance their organizations gave to the climate change issue. The observer for UNESCO informed the Committee of several relevant activities implemented under its Man and the Biosphere Programme and by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. He called for greater inter-agency co-operation on the issue and expressed UNESCO's willingness to participate fully in all activities. The observer for WHO said that his organization intended to undertake a study that would address the impact of climate change on human health and on disease vectors. The observer for WHO reported on its major scientific research and monitoring programmes some, such as the Background Air

Pollution Monitoring Network (BAPMoN), carried out in co-operation with UNEP. He stressed the requirement for increased atmospheric monitoring, pointing out that there were major deficiencies in the monitoring networks, particularly in tropical areas, and appealed for sufficient resources to overcome this problem.