The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol
require Parties to takemeasures to
minimise the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable countries including small islandstates. In negotiations the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) argue that this should mean assistance forcapacity building and transfer of technologies to help them adapt to a changing climate. The Convention andProtocol also require Parties to take measures to minimise the impacts of emission reduction activities onenergy exporting countries. In negotiations the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)countries argue that this should mean payment of compensation for the lost oil revenues, the growth of whichis forecast to slow should the Protocol be implemented. Although seemingly unrelated, negotiations on thesetwo agendas are currently intertwined and progress on both is deadlocked. This paper explores the political,economic and legal dimensions of this interlocked adverse effects/impacts issue.The paper begins by discussing the key adverse effects/impacts Articles under negotiation (Articles 4.8, 4.9and 3.14 of the Kyoto Protocol), and the ways in which progress has become deadlocked. The paper discussesthe positions of AOSIS and OPEC countries, and considers the bases for their respective positions. The paperexplains how, in insisting that progress on Articles 4.8, 4.9 and 3.14 - and indeed on all issues in the climateregime - be equal to progress on the issue of compensation, OPEC countries are obstructing financial andtechnical assistance to all developing and least developed countries for adaptation to the impacts of climatechange. This suggests that tacit G77-China support for OPEC’s position may therefore be counterproductive.The paper gives considerable attention to the energy models that forecast losses to OPEC countries if theKyoto Protocol is implemented. It explores the assumptions of these models which, in sum, render expectedlosses to oil exporters highly uncertain. It argues that there are sufficient grounds to suggest that even formany OPEC countries assistance to help manage the adverse effects of climate change is more important totheir economic welfare than compensation for the impacts of response measures on oil revenues.The paper then outlines how standard decision-making criteria cannot be applied to the adverseeffects/impacts issue as the values that underlie the respective AOSIS / OPEC negotiating positions areincommensurable. Instead, it sees that a political solution is required and advocates a second-track dialogueand conflict resolution process in the UNFCCC. The paper posits that in situations where the proposedsecond-track dialogue and conflict resolution process fails, there may ultimately need to be some mechanismwhereby deadlocked conflicts can be resolved through adjudication.