The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Earth Council will convene the second meeting of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Policy Forum in Toronto, Canada, from 12 to 14 November. The Forum, aimed at establishing an initial-phase, pilot greenhouse gas emissions trading market by the year 2000, was launched in Chicago in June 1997 (see Note to Correspondents No. 31).
The Toronto meeting comes three weeks before representatives of governments from around the world will gather in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate binding emissions reduction targets through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. An initial market for greenhouse gas emissions trading will hopefully be developed in accordance with the protocol to be negotiated in Kyoto. The second meeting of the Policy Forum is intended to send a strong signal of support for a positive outcome to the governments participating in the Kyoto meeting.
At the Policy Forum, some 80 representatives of governments, corporations, and environmental organizations from a wide range of developed and developing countries will discuss issues related to the structure and functioning of a pilot greenhouse gas emissions trading market. Under this proposed scheme, various models will be considered, including the American sulphur dioxide emissions trading model, in which American companies are issued permits to enable them to emit up to a capped level. Companies that emit below their permitted level can sell their spare capacity to other companies looking for cost-effective solutions.
At the inaugural Chicago meeting, Mr. Maurice Strong, Chairman of the Earth Council and Secretary-General of the 1992 Earth Summit, argued that an international market for greenhouse gases bridges the gap between the environmental objective of lowering emissions and industry´s need for flexible, economical paths for achieving this objective, while encouraging new investments in sustainable development. The Policy Forum, he said, represents a crucial and timely step in preparing for the endorsement of market mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gases.
The Toronto meeting is the first in an ambitious series of working sessions aimed at developing a policy framework on key issues such as an international participation agreement, monitoring, and market design, as well as the administration and operational aspects of greenhouse gas emissions trading. Training, education and capacity-building will also be carried out in these areas.
The meeting of the Policy Forum in Toronto is being held during the same week that Canadian federal and provincial energy and environment ministers will be meeting in Regina, Saskatchewan, to discuss Canada´s negotiating position for the Kyoto meeting.
A detailed information package on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading is available from the UNCTAD secretariat and the Earth Council Institute.
U.S.-based Centre Financial Products Limited, a firm experienced inimplementing new commodity and environmental markets, is also supporting this initiative.