Dec 11 2010
CANCUN: Negotiators throw climate a lifeline
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Countries emerged from intense negotiations in Cancun with a package that keeps the UNFCCC alive and kicking. The positive energy and momentum we have seen in the talks opens up a pathway moving forward.
Nick Mabey, CEO of E3G said: “This is a lifeline for the international climate talks. The Cancun package provides the green shoots which can grow into a global deal.”
Cancun was always going to be a staging post on the road to a final outcome. After the disappointment in Copenhagen, this year was about injecting political energy and reaching agreement on key mechanisms. On both counts Cancun has scored well. Compromise by countries produced substantive outcomes on: transparency, a new climate fund, a technology mechanism, deforestation and adaptation. Importantly the agreement includes a periodic review of the long term temperature target which leaves open the possibility of strengthening the goal to 1.5 degrees.
“This proves that all those who doubted the multilateral system were completely wrong. The UNFCCC is back at the heart of shaping the global response to climate change.” Nick Mabey went on to say.
After all the bickering and finger pointing that has plagued the negotiations, Cancun saw mature diplomacy with Ministers taking tactical risks to secure a deal. But the Cancun outcome is only an interim step. More work is required to reach a legally binding deal that keeps global temperature increases below 2 degrees.
“We still need to bring the emissions targets and levels of finance to scale and answer some big questions around the future of the Kyoto Protocol. We now have to take the fight back to key countries to build the conditions for a final deal.” Nick Mabey continued.
There is still a lot of work to be done in the United States, Japan, Canada, EU, China and India to build the political conditions for a low carbon future. Cancun only succeeded because Parties intent on progress created a new dynamic and because some of the big red line issues were left unresolved. Action on the ground is now required to unlock further progress.
But there are positive signs that this can be achieved. Cancun saw the emergence of a progressive coalition of countries working to broker compromise. The Cartagena Dialogue, with leadership from Costa Rica, Colombia, AOSIS, UK, Germany, and Malawi came forward as a powerful new force. This new dialogue helped reign in other countries’ blocking instincts and can provide the basis to build a coalition for a below 2 degree global deal.
The lessons of Cancun need to be replicated in South Africa next year. The superb leadership of the Mexican Presidency and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres provided a pragmatic voice to make progress and temper extremes. With a transparent, inclusive process and parties willing to avoid megaphone diplomacy the UNFCCC system can really work.
“This progress on the key topics shows the UNFCCC can deliver, and puts us on a workable timeline to tackle bigger issues in South Africa next year,” concluded Mabey. “The talks have cleared a key hurdle but there is a long way to go before our future climate is secure.”
1. E3G is an independent, non-profit organisation operating in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development. E3G builds cross-sectoral coalitions to achieve carefully defined outcomes, chosen for their capacity to leverage change. E3G works closely with like-minded partners in government, politics, business, civil society, science, the media, public interest foundations and elsewhere.
2. The Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action is an informal space, open to countries working towards an ambitious, comprehensive and legally binding regime in the UNFCCC, and committed, domestically, to becoming or remaining low carbon economies. The aim of the Dialogue is to discuss openly and constructively the reasoning behind each others’ positions, exploring areas of convergence and potential areas of joint action. Its members include, among others: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, European Commission, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico (as incoming COP President), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Samoa, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, UK, Uruguay.
3. For additional comments please contact Shane Tomlinson in London: +44 (0) 7908 664 334 or Katherine Silverthorne in US: +1 (202) 744-5143.