Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cancun Concludes

December 10th 2010 marked the end of the Climate Talks in Cancun, Mexico (or also known as COP16 - which stands for Conference of the Parties (COP) of which Cancun is the 16th conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)). So what happened?
Quoting from WFF:
Cancun, Mexico: World governments on Saturday morning laid tentative groundwork for a global agreement to fight climate change by making a series of commitments to progress at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP16 negotiations in Cancun. Governments agreed on a set of decisions that will support further talks over the next year with the objective of a final outcome at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.

In response, Gordon Shepherd, head of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative, issued the following statement:  “After Copenhagen governments came to Cancun bruised and facing public pressure to act on climate change. It was hoped that Cancun could establish a platform for progress, and now countries are leaving with a renewed sense of goodwill and some sense of purpose.”
After two weeks of negotiations, governments made measurable progress in several important areas, but a lot more work and some big political challenges remain.
 To read the full article: CLICK HERE

Quoting from Guardian Newspaper:

All major economies agree to cut emissions and establish a fund to help nations most vulnerable to climate change.  The agreement, which took four years to negotiate, should help to prevent deforestation, promote the transfer of low-carbon technologies to developing countries and, by 2020, establish a green fund, potentially worth $100bn (£63bn) a year, to shield the more vulnerable countries from climate change.

However, governments failed to reach agreement on how far overall global emissions should be cut, and there are many loopholes for countries to avoid making the deep reductions that scientists say are needed.

"Cancun may have saved the [UN]process but it did not yet save the climate," said Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Wendel Trio.  "With lives on the line, we must now build on this progress. Long term funding must be secured to help vulnerable countries protect themselves," said Oxfam director Jeremy Hobbs.
To read the full article: CLICK HERE

So what do I think as a member of the general public?:

1) I'm glad that at the very least, despite pessimistic predictions based on what happened in Copenhagen, governments were able to salvage some progress and come to some common understand and agreements. It upholds (however light) my belief that at the eleventh hour human-kind does inherently do the 'right' thing.

2) Following on from this (and keeping in mind that I was neither there, nor an expert or politician) I still feel that governments are and consistently give the impression of dragging their feet on seriously committing to significant action on climate change. I also get the impression that governments don't seem to appreciate the seriousness and severity of the problem. 

3) I'm slightly concerned by the somewhat lackadaisical timescale of these agreements, with (reportedly) much still left to be discussed and agreed at COP17, therefore more delays, more wasted time, no significant changes and more mounting problems.   It seems that governments are allowing climate change to slip from their list of priorities by pushing decision-making into the future when unfortunately time is increasingly a luxury we can no longer afford.

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