Sunday, December 12, 2010

A good day in Cancun

For the last 2 weeks, the world's climate-concerned eyes have been on Cancun where the UNFCCC met to improve on the failure of the Copenhagen conference. Not much hope was had going into the conference, too many contentious issues were raised before the conference even began. But last night, a compromise was reached and the conference ended with a positive outcome that sets the framework for future more binding agreements as a follow-up to the Kyoto protocol.

In short, the Cancun Agreements entail the following:
  • Establishing a formal temperature target of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • A commitment to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) to include the protection of rain forests into the climate protection measures. Most importantly reduced deforestation can count as an offset in a cap-and-trade system.
  • A framework for to measure, record and verify (MRV) emissions that can includes industrialized and non-industrialized countries.
  • A structure for a "green climate fund" which will contain the 100$ billion committed annually during Copenhagen. This fund will be critical to fund investments in clean energy in the emerging countries.

While no hard commitments were set yet by any countries and the emergence of national agreements that support this direction are to be formed, this conference is a major step forward and proves that the UNFCCC can function as a body to govern climate policy.
It also shows that one person can make a big difference. Mexican Foreign Minister, Mrs. Patricia Espinosa, skillfully led the entire conference and when Bolivia threatened to kill the unanimous vote required for an agreement, she duly noted the concern and made a result happen. Her leadership has restored faith in the difficult multilateral process of climate talks. Sometimes politicians actually can be climate heroes...

Some relevant commentary and links:

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