In Cancún climate negotiations can be reenergized


The 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16) and the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 6) opened yesterday, 29 November, in Cancún, Mexico.

Over the next two weeks, representatives of 193 nations will gather to continue with the climate change negotiations, focusing on a two-track negotiating process aimed to enhance long-term international climate change cooperation under the Convention and the Protocol.

In the opening ceremony, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said: “Governments can reach a deal to launch action on adaptation, technology transfer and forests, and they can create a new fund for long-term climate finance. She added that “Governments can clarify what to do about the Kyoto Protocol, and how to anchor the many national targets and actions that many countries have put forward, in particular, the targets of industrialized countries.”

For many, the outcome of the COP 15 in Copenhagen was less than what was hoped for. Nevertheless in 2010, progress was made. Countries revealed commitment to live up to the fast start pledge in Copenhagen. Developed countries have announced pledges totaling USD 28 billion and many of them are now making information available on the disbursement of these funds. Also in October, the world came together in Nagoya, Japan and agreed on targets to protect the health of the planet by protecting biodiversity and agreeing on a framework to share and protect nature’s resources.

Denmark’s climate minister Lykke Friis added that she expects the conference to prove that “climate change was not put on ice in freezing Copenhagen (in 2009), that it has succeeded in rebuilding trust… and it has managed to reach a level of expectations that can actually bring results.”

However, decisions related to climate change on many political issues remain an important challenge and Cancun can be the platform to reach balanced agreements, and where countries unite to adopt decisions that are comprehensive, balanced, substantive, and action oriented.

The conference political negotiations will be based on the following issues:

• The continuation of the Kyoto Protocol;

• The anchoring of mitigation pledges put forward by Parties in 2010 and the accompanying accountability;

• The mobilization of long-term financing and the accompanying accountability;

• The creation of a new fund to house long-term climate funding;

• Response measures;

• The understanding of fairness that will guide long-term mitigation efforts.

Given the amount of natural disasters that the world has witnessed in 2010, and after a long year of consultations, there is hope that Cancún could be the place where substantial agreements can be reached to combat climate change.

It is expected that after the COP 16 in Cancún, decisions concerning actions in mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance, and capacity-building, among others, should be made. Another expected outcome of Cancun is to ensure transparency and contribute to further trust among countries.

The meeting in Cancún is not intended to provide the ultimate framework for global action, yet it is expected to be an important stepping stone to arrive at an agreement on how to pursue definitive actions to combat climate change.

In the question and answer session, Juanita Castaño of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) made a statement covering the environmental (green), the economic and social components of sustainable development. “Synergies across these considerations are not automatic,” she cautioned, but “an appropriate mix of national policy reforms and strategic international policies can help attract …substantial investment,” she added, drawing on examples in Tunisia, China, Brazil and Uganda.

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