Reactions from Cancun

After the stalemate at the Copenhagen climate conference this time last year and some serious expectation management prior to COP16, Cancun now looks like a runaway success. A Climate Fund of $100billion a year was agreed on to provide financial assistance for the poorest nations. China and India stepped up to the plate and all 192 negotiating countries signed the overall Cancun agreement.

The biggest sticking point? Developing nations insisted that the Kyoto protocol should not be replaced by a new treaty, but that it should continue into a second phase. Japan, Russia and Canada took a tough line in Cancun, stating that they would not sign on to an extension unless it included the world’s two largest polluters, the U.S. and China. No extension was agreed. Here are some articles from around the web on Cancun:

The Economic Times – highlights some of the key points agreed at Cancun.

Politico – concludes Cancun yielded “modest” agreements.

New Scientist – says the agreements may only be skin deep and that fundamental rifts have been left unresolved.

Treehugger – reckons the process has been saved, but not yet the climate:

Despite any environmental shortcomings in the Cancun agreement–and make no mistake there are plenty of them, with the real heavy lifting left to come–the importance that this all has in salvaging the UN climate negotiation progress should not be underestimated. In the aftermath of last year’s talks in Copenhagen, and throughout this year’s talks prior to COP16, it really appeared that the entire process was in jeopardy. Warts and all, the UN remains the only effective venue for taking the sort of globally collective political action needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Guardian – “After the missed opportunities of the Copenhagen meeting in 2009 nobody expected anything at all from the Cancún encounter, so any agreement represents a significant step” but very soon “it will look more like another opportunity missed.”

Joss Garman – looks at the meaning of Cancun.

The next UN climate change conference (COP17) will be held in Durban, South Africa. The website is already up and running.

You can download the key decisions made at COP16 from the UNFCCC website.


To be Frank

Green commentators have been decidedly downbeat since the resignation of Yvo ‘KPMG’ de Boer last week.

All in all, the next few months look grim. There is now no serious prospect of Obama getting legislation through the Senate, this year, or possibly ever. Following the sustained attack by climate deniers on both individual scientists and the IPCC, public confidence in climate change as an urgent issue is also steadily eroding, further reducing the room for manoeuvre by politicians. The next round of intermediate negotiations, due to start in Bonn on 31 May, look set to take place in a poisonous atmosphere of bitterness and rancour. Source: Mark Lynas, Guardian.

Ed Miliband, the UK’s influential Energy and Climate Change Secretary, released a statement soon after hearing of de Boer’s resignation: 

We must quickly find a suitable successor, who can oversee the negotiations and reform the UNFCCC to ensure it is up to the massive task of dealing with what are some of the most complex negotiations ever.

Meanwhile the head of Greenpeace International’s political and business unit, Wendel Trio, claimed DeBoer’s successor needs to be a ‘superman’.

The NYTimes editorial on Climate Change and de Boer’s resignation offers a welcome glimmer of hope amidst the prevailing mood of pessimism.