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Step forward in Buenos Aires

November 18, 1998, 08:00 CET

An action plan was agreed at the climate talks which recently ended in Buenos Aires, but no specific basis has been laid for an emission trading system.

The action plan adopted by the fourth conference of the parties to the UN climate convention in the Argentinean capital sets a timetable for continued work on implementing the provisions of the Kyoto protocol.

Signed by all participant countries, it is described as a small step in the right direction after the protocol was approved by the Kyoto conference in Japan last December.

Although the foundations for a common international system for trading greenhouse-gas emission quotas are still not in place, work on this solution will continue in Norway and other countries.

Deadlines are set by the action plan for presenting draft rules on the flexible mechanisms and emission trading. A final decision is unlikely to be reached before 2000.

"Although the Buenos Aires meeting has made some contribution, the fact that it will take longer to establish a framework of climate provisions presents industry with a problem," says Arve Thorvik, senior vice president for health, the environment and safety.

Like other oil companies, Statoil pursues operations in various parts of the world and wants to be able to adopt measures which allow it to achieve the best environmental results for each krone spent.

"That's why we have great faith in the market-based solutions provided by the Kyoto mechanisms, and hope their unrestricted use will be accepted," says Mr Thorvik.

In his view, work on solutions for emission trading now under way in Norway and a number of other countries must continue regardless of the pace of global negotiations.

At the Buenos Aires conference, the developing countries pressed for formulations in the working programme on technological and financial aid from the industrial nations to be as binding as possible.

The principal concern of the industrialised world, on the other hand, was to ensure that efforts are put into devising the international mechanisms which will provide "credits" for climate-related measures carried out in other countries.

Efforts were made by the developing nations to secure priority for studies of the "green" development mechanisms meant to support climate-related investment in these countries.

"According to the Kyoto protocol, emission reductions achieved through such investment after 2000 should be credited against the investing country's future commitments," notes environmental adviser Frede Cappelen, who was Statoil's observer at the Buenos Aires conference.

"No corresponding provisions exist for joint implementation of projects in industrial countries or for emission trading. All the mechanisms will now be studied in parallel."