China and MRV

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 17/11/2009

Can you illustrate some international regimes in which China accepted international reporting / review/verification/ compliance/enforcement? Do these systems apply the same measures towards developed and developing countries or there is a differentiation?

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer  (“Protocol”)

China ratified the Protocol in 1991.

The Protocol requires developed and developing countries to phase out their use of specified Ozone Depleting Substances (“ODS”).  The success of the Protocol has generally been attributed to the establishment of its Multilateral Fund in 1990 which provides a source of funding for developing countries to defray the costs of compliance with the Protocol.  This type of funding mechanism strengthened control measures and created more incentives for countries like China to become a signatory to the Protocol.  A further benefit for parties to the Protocol has been the facilitation of technology transfer amongst the parties.

The Multilateral Fund requires disbursements at all levels to be based on satisfactory achievement of performance indicators during the phase-out period.  The threat of withholding disbursements serves as a good incentive for countries to comply with the Protocol obligations.

The Protocol further prohibits parties from:

  • importing controlled substances from non-parties; 
  • importing products produced with controlled substances from non-parties; and
  • exporting controlled substances.

All parties (i.e. industrialized and developing countries) have to collect and submit annual reports on imports, exports and production of controlled substances to the Ozone Secretariat established under the Protocol. The reports are to be submitted in prescribed forms set out in the Protocol’s Handbook on Data Reporting by 30 September each year. The Ozone Secretariat uses the data submitted by the Parties to assess compliance with agreed phase-out schedules.

Parties receiving financial assistance from the Multilateral Fund (i.e. developing countries) must also file an additional form reporting their consumption (i.e. ODS use) in total and by sector to the Fund Secretariat in Montreal by 1 May of each year. This additional reporting requirement for developing country parties assists the Multilateral Fund in assessing country specific phase-out strategies so as to provide the appropriate assistance.

Developed country parties that do not comply with the reporting requirements described above are frequently threatened with the delaying or withholding of critical financial assistance.

Measures that can be taken under the Protocol for non-compliance include the withdrawing of assistance (in the form of financial and technological) and the imposition of trade restrictions and sanctions.  Any disciplinary action taken by the Implementation Committee would be in accordance with the Non-Compliance Procedures of the Protocol.

The Protocol addressed the potential for “trade leakage” whereby the production of ozone depleting substances (“ODS”) would merely shift from industrialized countries to developing countries.

The system under the Protocol applies the “basic domestic needs” measure under which developing countries are allowed to increase their ODS production to specified levels for a period of up to ten years, after which they must reduce ODS production by fifty percent for the following ten years.

World Heritage Convention (“Convention”)

China ratified the Convention in 1985.

The Convention defines the kinds of sites that can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.

A World Heritage listing is of value to member countries because of the benefits it brings. Some of the financial benefits include money from increased tourism and financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund for identification and preservation of World Heritage sites.

The Convention also imposes duties on member countries in identifying and protecting potential sites. The Committee requires national on-site monitoring of the conservation of sites, resulting in a report every six years or at intervals set by the Committee.  Member countries are further required to undertake educational and promotional activities in their own countries.

If member countries are in breach their obligations, sites can be deleted from the World Heritage List.

This system applies the same measures towards developed and developing countries.  There is no differentiation.

Nevertheless, UNESCO has been promoting the adoption of “Zoning and Environmental Management and Development Plans” in the Asia-Pacific Region.

These plans aim to balance the conservation of the site with the need for economic development that will benefit the local community through conservation work and the development of sustainable tourism. These plans also provide for a way to balance the different needs of the different parties involved, resulting in mutually-agreed upon objectives and policies. The implementation of these plans can then occur in conjunction with the work of other agencies and individuals, with a clear division of responsibility between every party involved.