The meaning of ‘additionality’ under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention

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Date produced: 11/06/2014

What is the meaning of additionality under the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol?


Additionality refers to two areas of the negotiations: the additionality of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, and the additionality of financial contributions of developed countries in respect of mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigation additionality

Mitigation additionality is mentioned in Article 3(4) of the Kyoto Protocol (relating to using land-use emissions reductions to offset industrial emissions in developed countries), Article 6(1)(b) (referring to joint implementation (JI) and the transfer of emission reductions generated by investments in developed countries among those countries), and Article 12(5)(c) (relating to the CDM and the creation of transferable emissions reductions generated by investments in developing countries to developed countries).  In all three cases, additionality refers to an activity reducing emissions (Article 3(4)) or the actual reduction in emissions (Article 6(1) and 12(5)) that need to be additional to what would happen in the absence of the activity.  The Kyoto Protocol refers to additionality with respect to activities implemented in developed (Article 3(4) and 6(1)) as well as developing (Article 12(5)) countries.  The concept has gained most prominence in the context of the CDM where it is considered to be important to the environmental integrity of the mechanism.

Article 11 (2) (a) of the Kyoto Protocol requires that developed countries “Provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country Parties in advancing the implementation of existing commitments under Article 4, paragraph 1 (a), of the Convention” (developing country mitigation requirements).

Financial additionality

Under Article 4(3) of the Convention, developed country Parties and Annex II developed country Parties “shall provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country Parties (…)” in respect of their obligations under the Convention including mitigation, adaptation and reporting efforts. Subsequently, developed country parties have committed themselves to providing USD 100 billion of ‘new and additional’ financing annually by 2020 in order to address climate change needs in developing countries (including mitigation and adaptation).  These commitments are captured by the Copenhagen Accord (2009) and the Cancun Agreements (2010).

Decision 2/CP.15, paragraph 8, provides that developed country Parties must provide to developing countries “[s]caled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding, as well as improved access” and requires that “[t]he collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources .. [of] USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.

Decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 18 requests developed country Parties to provide developing country Parties with “long-term, scaled up, predictable, new and additional finance”, and, at paragraphs 95 and 97 of the same Decision, notes the “collective commitment by developed countries to provide new and additional resources as well as scaled up new and additional, predictable and adequate funding.

However, there is no internationally agreed definition of ‘additionality’.  It is generally considered to refer to the difference between development and climate finance.  The term recognises that while climate and development activities should be integrated as far as possible at the operational level, they must be met as distinct international commitments. The distinction arises because development finance is not governed by the same principles as climate finance, or concerned with common but differentiated responsibility for historic and future emissions and consequent climate change impacts.  Climate finance is therefore considered to be a financial commitment, made by developed countries, in addition to their existing obligations regarding development assistance.

The criteria for Official Development Assistance (ODA) have been defined quite clearly – developed countries have repeatedly been encouraged to raise at least 0.7% of their Gross National Income for ODA. In contrast, the criteria for climate finance are vague and uncertain. As there are overlaps between aid for development and to address climate change and its adverse impacts (through adaptation and mitigation), it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between ODA and climate finance. This is particularly true for adaptation measures, where certain activities focus on tailoring development in a way that builds resilience to a changing climate. As a result some developed countries (such as the EU) have at times admitted “double counting”.