Subsidiary Bodies

The FCCC established two permanent subsidiary bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Tech nological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). These bodies give advice to the COP and each has a specific task. They are both open to participation by any Party. Governments often select their representatives among experts in the fields of the respective bodies.

As its name suggests, the SBSTA's mission is to supply the COP with advice on scientific, technological, and methodological issues. SBSTA works in two key areas for the success of the convention: the development and transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies, and the improvement of the guidelines for preparing national communications and emission inventories.

The SBSTA also carries out methodological work in specific areas, such as the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sector (LULUCF), adaptation ,and vulnerability. In addition, the SBSTA acts as the link between the scientific information provided by expert sources such as the IPCC on the one hand, and the policy-oriented needs of the COP on the other. It works closely with the IPCC, sometimes requesting specific information or reports, and also cooperates with other relevant international organizations that share the achievement of sustainable development as their main mission.

The SBI gives advice to the COP on all matters concerning the implementation of the FCCC, including budgetary and administrative issues. A particularly important task for the implementation of the FCCC is to assess the Convention's overall effectiveness through an examination of the information provided by the Parties in their national communications and emission inventories. The SBI reviews the financial assistance given to non-Annex I Parties to help them implement their Convention commitments, and provides advice to the COP on guidance to the financial mechanism operated by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The SBSTA and SBI also work together on cross-cutting issues that touch on both their areas of expertise. These include capacity building, the vulnerability of developing countries to climate change and response measures, and the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. The SBSTA and the SBI have traditionally met in parallel, at least twice a year. The meetings of the two subsidiary bodies are either held at the same location as the conference of Par ties or, when they are held at different times, at the Convention's secretariat.

The UNFCCC operations are supported by its secretariat in Bonn, Germany. The secretariat has been housed in the historic Haus Carstanjen, where the Marshall Plan was signed, since August 1996. It was previously located in Geneva, Switzerland. The main tasks of the secretariat are to provide practical arrangements for sessions of the Convention and Protocol bodies; to check the implementation of the commitments under the Convention and the Protocol through collection, analysis and review of information and data provided by Parties; to aid Parties in implementing their commitments; to provide support to the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol; and to coordinate with the secretariats of other relevant international bodies, the GEF and its implementing agencies (UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank), the IPCC, and other relevant conventions.

Specific tasks include the preparation of official documents for the COP and subsidiary bodies, the coordination of In-Depth Reviews of Annex I Party national communications, and the compilation of greenhouse gas inventory data.

Since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the work of the secretariat has grown considerably. The secretariat employs about 200 people. Its head, the Executive Secretary, is appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in consultation with the COP, and has the title of Assistant-Secretary-General. The Executive Secretary is responsible to the Secretary-General through the Under-Secretary-General heading the Department of Management on administrative and financial matters, and through the Under-Secretary-General heading the Department for Economic and Social Affairs on other matters.

Every two years, the Executive Secretary proposes a budget, setting out the main goals to be pursued by the secretariat in the coming biennium and the funding needed to carry out this work. This proposal is considered in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), which then recommends a program budget for approval by the COP. For the biennium 2006-07, the program budget adopted by COP 11 stands at about $27 million for 2006 and $26 million for 2007. The Program Budget is funded by contributions from Parties, their shares being based on the UN scale of assessment.

controversial waters

The work of the FCCC has not always been smooth, and the COP have often been characterized by controversies between different countries that have paralyzed the body. Developing countries lament that they do not receive enough assistance from developed countries. At the 12th Conference of Parties in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006, delegates from developing countries explicitly complained about "climate tourists," Western delegates who had attended the conference to "see Africa, take snaps of the poor, dying African children and women."

SEE ALSo: Clinton Administration; Bush (George H.W.) Administration; Bush (George W.) Administration; Kyoto Protocol; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

BIBLioGRAPHY. Richard Black, "Climate Talks a Tricky Business." British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News (cited November 2006); United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (cited November 2007).

Luca Prono University of Nottingham

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Renewable Energy 101

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