Will The Cancun Climate Conference See Progress?
The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Cancún, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. The conference is officially referred to as the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (CMP 6) to the Kyoto Protocol.
Despite last year’s disappointment at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the United Nations leadership believes “significant progress is possible” at tomorrow’s 194-nation climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, a top U.N. official recently said.
Negotiators had targeted last year’s climate summit in the Danish capital, attended by some 100 heads of state or government, for agreement on mandatory reductions in global warming gases by dozens of countries. But the talks were a no go – they only managed to agree to the “Copenhagen Accord,” a nonbinding political agreement with pledges of voluntary reductions that generally endorse the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.
A disagreement between the United States and China has stalled progress on this central element of any global climate deal. For the past 13 years, the U.S. has refused to join the rest of the industrialized world in the Kyoto Protocol, a binding pact to curb fossil-fuel emissions by modest amounts, due to expire in 2012. More recently, as China, India and other emerging economies exempted from the 1997 Kyoto pact have sharply increased emissions, they have rejected calls by the U.S. and others to commit by treaty to restraints.
Human-caused climate change is happening, ..It is happening faster than anyone predicted even a few years ago, and therefore we need to remind ourselves and negotiators need to remind themselves that the longer we delay, the more we will pay, both in terms of lives and in terms of money.
– Robert Orr, a top UN official
Significant progress has been identified as possible in three key areas:
1. Establish a multibillion-dollar fund to aid poorer countries to adapt to climate change and to install clean energy sources.
2. Agree on more elements of a complex plan to pay developing countries to protect their forests.
3. Make it easier for poorer nations to obtain patented technologies from the industrialized world for clean energy and climate adaptation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. scientific network, projects that temperatures will rise this century by up to 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees Fahrenheit), depending on whether and how much emissions are rolled back of carbon dioxide and other industrial, transportation and agricultural gases that are warming the atmosphere also known as greenhouse gases (GHG).
In one example of accelerating impacts, researchers report that the world’s warming oceans are rising at twice the 20th century’s average rate, expanding from the heat and the runoff of melting land ice and threatening low-lying islands states and eventually coastlines everywhere.
The United States has pledged to an emissions reduction target of 17% by 2020 with other countries engaging in significant reduction goals as well. Brazil has pledges at least 36%, China has pledges 40-45%, Mexico pledged 30%, and Japan has pledged 25%.
Some of criticisms of the Copenhagen Accord were that it was not legally binding, therefore, not strong enough to induce countries to actually reducing emissions. Other concerns were financial in nature as well as technological. Most agree the accord was loosely worded and weak.
Many environmentalists will be watching the Cancun Climate Conference closely to see if more progress will be made compared to last year. More on this as the conference commences…
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