The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
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Capacity Building for Climate Protection in Central and Eastern Europe

Implementation period:
2000–2003

Project partner:
World Resources Institute (WRI)

Capacity Building for Climate Protection in Central and Eastern Europe

“Unlike the compliance requirements and other provisions contained in the Kyoto Protocol, implementation of domestic policies and measures does not require the agreement of international rules beyond the general provisions of Article 2 of the Kyoto Protocol. Parties can, therefore, initiate domestic actions to reduce emissions or to enhance sink capacities and monitor their impact, without further international action. By doing so […] the parties will make an immediate contribution to reducing overall GHG emissions and countering the threat of climate change.”
From Good Practices in Policies and Measures for Climate Change Mitigation (REC, 2002)

Background
The international political response to the challenges imposed by climate change started with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. This was followed by the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, when industrialised countries and countries in transition to a market economy agreed to have legally binding GHG emission reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol also defined three flexible mechanisms to assist developed countries in complying with their commitments.

In the late 1990s, countries in the CEE region had only just started their involvement in the international climate process, and it was a huge challenge for EITs to establish institutional and legal backgrounds capable of fulfilling critical provisions of the Kyoto Protocol for emissions monitoring, government reporting and the review of information.

Recognising a great regional need, the REC and the World Resources Institute (WRI) formed a partnership to assist these countries — bracketed together under Annex I as “economies in transition” (EITs) — in reforming their policies and institutions to comply with their commitments and respond to the opportunities for infrastructure developed by UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The REC–WRI partnership produced four publications — one each year between 2000 and 2003 — reflecting a wide range of efforts to improve CEE regional capacity to meet the first-round targets of the Kyoto Protocol. The important work completed over this period is summarised below.

Achievements

Capacity for Climate Protection in Central and Eastern Europe: Activities Implemented Jointly (2000)
The Kyoto Protocol contained “flexibility instruments” to enable countries to achieve reductions through involvement with other states in order to allow emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost. These mechanisms included international emissions trading (IET); joint implementation (JI); and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Two of the mechanisms — JI and CDM — were project based, meaning that they envisioned investment in projects to reduce GHG emissions. Project-based mechanisms had yet to enter a phase when investor and recipient countries were able to transfer emission credits. Nevertheless, it was possible to gain experience in implementing such projects through a pilot phase known as “activities implemented jointly” (AIJ).

The papers presented in this publication focused on the experience of five Annex I countries with AIJs: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland and Slovenia. The case studies provided examples of efforts to build a national JI system to streamline investment. At the same time, they illustrated the significant hurdles that governments and the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC needed to address to make JI investment cost-effective and attractive for recipient and investor countries.

Complying with the Kyoto Protocol Requirements: Capacity Needs in Central and Eastern Europe (2001)
The information in this paper was drawn from surveys of six countries that participated in the programme led by the REC and the WRI. Non-governmental organisations in each of the countries — the EnEffect Center for Energy Efficiency (Bulgaria); the Center for Transport and Energy (Czech Republic); the Center for Environmental Studies (Hungary); the Institute for Sustainable Development (Poland); Terra Mileniul III (Romania); and the Slovene E Forum (Slovenia) — worked with staff in both government and non-governmental institutions to obtain responses to a survey (included in the publication) that provided the basis for the information presented.

Countries identified major capacity-building needs related to climate protection, such as a lack of information on and awareness of climate change; the limited number of institutions and experts capable of carrying out analyses, estimations, projections, studies, and verification and monitoring in the area of climate change; and the relatively low priority given to climate change.

A notable and welcome development at this stage of the project was financial support contributed by the then Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory — precursor to the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) — a body that has been closely involved with and supportive of REC activities over many years.

Good Practices in Policies and Measures for Climate Change Mitigation: A Central and Eastern European Perspective (2002)
Financial support for the project widened further in its third year, bringing valuable contributions from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA); the European Commission; the Government of Japan; the Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory; and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands.

This publication was a compendium of six individual reports written by the partner NGOs mentioned above. The idea behind the report was to test a set of criteria for assessing good practices within a range of domestic policies, measures and projects to reduce GHG emissions in the six Annex I countries, and to share findings from the application of these criteria to a set of very diverse activities in the selected EITs in the CEE region.

The report presented the findings of the case studies and assessed climate mitigation measures and projects according to the following criteria: environmental outcomes; economic and social outcomes; technical outcomes; institution-building potential; project sustainability; and replication potential.

Aarhus Meets Kyoto: National Case Studies in Central and Eastern Europe on Public Participation in Climate Change Related Decision Making (2003)
The introduction of the three pillars of the Aarhus Convention — access to information; public participation in decision making; and access to justice — is an essential step towards environmental democracy. The specific objective of this study was to assess access to information and public participation in decision making in relation to GHG emissions in six CEE countries. Case studies were undertaken in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia by six national NGOs. The NGO partners were asked to carry out surveys, interviews, and legal and document research to assess public access to information about GHG emissions and compliance. The WRI developed the methodology, while the surveys proved useful for testing and promoting the methodology.

The project received continued financial support from the Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory, the Government of Japan, the European Commission, and USEPA.

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