12 Dec 2010

Cancun Agreements – worth the emissions?

Written by Jim Pierobon

The COP16 climate meeting in Cancun concluded with a rough consensus that no real progress was made toward a global pact that can put industrialized AND developing countries on a path to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The talks did keep the process alive and able to move forward. Here are selective dispatches from Cancun:

Cancun Talks Yield Climate Compromise, by Danny Biello, Scientific American

Elements of last year’s Copenhagen Accord moved a step closer to reality as two weeks of talks concluded in Cancun this week with a new consensus on the path forward for international negotiations to combat climate change. Over the objections of Bolivia, the so-called Cancun Agreements text was adopted by more than 190 countries, setting the stage for ongoing negotiations on subjects ranging from greenhouse gas emission cuts from developed and developing countries to rules for reducing deforestation.

“Ideas that were, first of all, just skeletal last year and weren’t approved now are approved and elaborated,” said lead U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern at a press conference in Cancun following the adoption. “Obviously this package is not going to solve climate change by itself, but it is a good step forward.”

Activiists tossed these icons in the coastal waters off Cancun trying to illustrate the fate that awaits them if the globe overheats. Image courtesy of Minnesotans For Global Warming.

Cancun climate breakthrough: It’s not perfect but it’s a deal, by Kate Sheppard, Grist

The greatest success may have been that the Mexican organizers, particularly (Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Patricia) Espinosa, were able to restore faith in the process. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh praised Espinosa as a “goddess” for her bringing together the parties around an agreement. “You have not only crafted a balanced agreement but most importantly you have restored the confidence of the international community in multilateralism and the multilateral process at a time when the confidence had hit a historic low,” he said. “I believe we have launched a process where the trust deficit has been considerably bridged.”

U.N. climate meeting OKs Green Fund in new accord, by Juliet Elperin, The Washington Post

CANCUN, Mexico — Delegates from 193 nations approved a series of agreements early Saturday morning establishing a new global fund to help developing countries curb their carbon output and cope with the impacts of climate change, though they failed to agree on how to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert serious warming in the future.

“CancĂșn has done its job,” said the Convention’s executive secretary Christiana Figueres in a statement. “Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause.”

The new “Green Climate Fund” will transfer money from rich countries to poor ones, though the agreement fails to spell out how exactly it will be funded.

Climate Talks End With Modest Deal on Emissions, By John M. Broder, The New York Times

The United Nations climate change conference began with modest aims and ended early Saturday with modest achievements. But while the measures adopted here may have scant near-term impact on the warming of the planet, the international process for dealing with the issue got a significant vote of confidence.

The agreement fell well short of the broad changes scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change in coming decades. But it lays the groundwork for stronger measures in the future, if nations are able to overcome the emotional arguments that have crippled climate change negotiations in recent years.

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