Cancun December 2010 Climate Change Negotiations

What does the balance sheet from the climate change negotiations look like?

Expectations were low going in to Cancun. Throughout the two weeks we heard several refrains reflecting that the problems in Copenhagen the year before were not to be repeated: “There are no secret texts.” “There are no closed meetings.” And there were not. “A balanced package in Cancun means that everyone gets something but no one gets everything.” There must be compromise. And there was.

What were the key issues going in to Cancun?

There was a long wish list: mitigation, adaptation, financing for developing countries, technology transfer to ensure mitigation and adaptation, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, including conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon sinks (REDD+), and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and international consultation and analysis (ICA).

What emerged?

Under the climate change convention, there is on balance a positive outcome. A multilateral agreement was achieved. This is a huge advance over the divisiveness of the previous year and a foundation on which future negotiations can move forward.

  • Mitigation: a process for “anchoring” mitigation pledges by developed and developing countries; the establishment of a registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions by developing countries with procedures for verification.
  • Financing: Creation of a climate fund which provides for fast-start and long-term financing.
  • Forests: REDD+ was agreed on although not finance for long-term finance.
  • Technology: establishment of a Technology Executive Committee and a Climate Technology Centre and Network.
  • Adaptation: adoption of a Cancun Adaptation Framework aimed at enhancing actions on adaptation, including through international cooperation.

Unfortunately, not as much was achieved under the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. There is still no agreement on moving forward for the second commitment period. There is only a commitment to complete the work in time to ensure there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods. (2012 is the year when the first commitments expire.)

Clearly the work is in midstream and leaves much to be done at next year’s climate change negotiations scheduled for Durban, South Africa, from28 November-9 December 2011.

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