Perhaps because expectations were so low, or because of the realization that cooperation between nations needed to occur for the UN climate negotiations to continue to exist, or because NASA announced the hottest November and likely 2010 on record, the media reports and commentary from nations and activists coming out of Cancun is much better than it was last year in Copenhagen. Here is the text adopted by the UNFCCC. My take upon reading the news reports and looking at the text is that the language purposefully leaves a lot of the details and specifics to be worked out in future summits, while using broad language to satisfy developed and developing countries to keep the process moving forward. There is greater agreement than last year about what needs to be done, such as the establishment of a $100 billion Green Climate Fund by 2020, and the allocation of $30 billion between 2010-2012 for developing nations to use for mitigation and adaption. Below is the closing COP 16 press release, along with some reactions from other countries, bloggers, and media outlets…
UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun delivers balanced package of
decisions, restores faith in multilateral process
(Cancun, 11 December 2010) The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, ended on Saturday with the adoption of a balanced package of decisions that set all governments more firmly on the path towards a ow-emissions future and support enhanced action on climate change in the developing world.
The package, dubbed the ‘Cancun Agreements’ was welcomed to repeated loud and prolonged applause and acclaim by Parties in the final plenary.
“Cancun has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all,” she said.
“Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time,” she said.
Nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations, which will increase going forward.
They also agreed that countries need to work to stay below a two degree temperature rise and they set a clear timetable for review, to ensure that global action is adequate to meet the emerging reality of climate change.
“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning. It is not what is ultimately required but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition,” said Ms Figueres.
Elements of the Cancun Agreements include:
The next Conference of the Parties is scheduled to take place in South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
US climate envoy Todd Stern’s reaction in the Washington Post: “U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern, who had pushed hard for adoption of language outlining how China, India and other major emerging economies will subject their carbon cuts to international view, described the recent negotiations as “a challenging, tiring and intensive week.”
In an early-morning press conference Saturday, Stern told reporters he thought the core achievement of this year’s talks was the fact that “ideas that were first of all, skeletal last year, and not approved, are now approved and elaborated.”
And while he noted the current measure would not ensure the global temperature rise remains within 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of pre-industrial levels, “You just need to keep making good steady progress…We’re not there yet with respect to all the committed reductions it would take to get the world to the two-degree target people talk about. But we’re a lot closer than we were before.”
“What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward,” Stern said.”
From Brad Johnson’s Wonk Room: “The first lesson of the Cancun talks is that the governments of the world can in fact work together on global warming, even though decoupling civilization from greenhouse pollution is a herculean task. However, the second lesson is that their leadership only gets humanity so far. Only the full mobilization of the present generation can overcome the institutional barriers to change and protect our fragile civilization from the raging climate system our pollution has created. The Cancun compact has restored hope around the world, but now the actual work has to begin.”
And according to Brad’s Twitterfeed, some good reactions from nations as the talks closed…
Mexican President Felipe Calderon: “We must ensure our fragile planet, Mother Earth, lasts forever. Cancun has brought us closer to that goal.”
Brazil: We will go away from Cancun with a firm commitment. Considerable progress has been made.
Zambia: Thank you for lifting our spirits from the depression of Copenhagen. You have restored our hopes in multilateralism
India: I believe we are launched on a process in which the trust deficit has been significantly bridged
Japan: We wholeheartedly support the efforts being made by the presidency. We’d like to express our deep support to draft text.
China: Though there are shortcomings, we are basically satisfied. The government of China will act in a fully responsible manner to the people of China and the people of the world.
South Korea: We were warned, if we cannot achieve a balanced outcome, we’d be blamed by our children. I believe we have risen to the challenge.
So all in all, it’s good to see this positive will between counties that lacked last year in Copenhagen. The agreement on the table needs a lot of work, it isn’t strong or forceful enough to achieve what needs to be done, but it avoids a collapse of the UN climate talks, and keeps the negotiating process moving forward to what will hopefully be concrete action.