December 12, 2010

Cancun Climate Delegates Sign Off On Agreement

Delegates at the UN climate summit in Cancun have reached an agreement to curb climate change, including a massive fund to aid developing countries.

All participating nations endorsed the deal drawn up by the Mexican hosts, although Bolivia made some objections.

The draft says deeper cuts in carbon emissions are needed, but do not establish a mechanism for achieving pledges made by countries.

The Kyoto Protocol was a huge stumbling block for some countries that resisted it during the final week of negotiations. However, diplomats were able to come to a compromise.

Delegates applauded speeches from Japan, China and the US -- nations that had caused the most friction during negotiations -- as one by one they signed the draft.

BBC environment correspondent Richard Black said the meeting did not achieve the all-encompassing deal that many activists and governments were hoping for. But he said it was being "touted as a platform on which that comprehensive agreement can be built."

"Now the world must deliver on its promises. There is more hard work to be done ahead of the climate change conference in South Africa next year," UK Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC News.

The Green Climate Fund is expected to raise and disburse $100 billion per year by 2020 to protect the poorest nations against climate impacts and assist them with low-carbon development.

A newly appointed Adaptation Committee will support countries as they establish climate protection plans.

And partners for funding developing countries to reduce deforestation are outlined.

The deal is nowhere near the comprehensive plan that many countries backed at last year's Copenhagen summit and continue to back now. It leaves open the question of whether any of its measures, including emission cuts, will be legally binding.

"What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward," said chief US negotiator Todd Stern.

"The negotiations in the future will continue to be difficult," China's chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, added.

Bolivia found faults with elements of the deal and with the way the texts were constructed through private conversations between small groups of countries.

Delegation chief Pablo Solon said what was most worrisome was that commitments would not be made under the Kyoto Protocol. "We're talking about a [combined] reduction in emissions of 13-16 percent, and what this means is an increase of more than 4C," he said.

"Responsibly, we cannot go along with this - this would mean we went along with a situation that my president has termed 'ecocide and genocide'," said Solon.

But Clair Parker, senior climate policy adviser for the global conservation group IUCN, said: "We have moved away from the post-Copenhagen paralysis."

"Developing countries can now see new money on the table which they can draw on to adapt to the impacts they're already facing and reduce emissions," she said.

"There's enough in it that we can work towards next year's meeting in South Africa to get a legally binding agreement there," commented Tara Rao, senior policy adviser with environmental group World Wildlife Fund.

The final day of the two-week climate change summit had begun with little hope of a deal. But ministers conducted intensive behind-the-scenes diplomacy to formulate texts that all parties could agree to, to some extent.

Both Russia and Japan secured wording that leaves them a possible route to escape extension of the Kyoto Protocol's legally binding emission cuts, while strongly implying that the protocol will have a successful future - a key demand of developing countries.

The Green Climate Fund will initially utilize the World Bank as a trustee -- as the United States, European Union and Japan had demanded -- while giving oversight to a new body balanced between developed and developing nations.

Developing countries will be subject to international verification when they are funded by Western monies -- a formulation that seemed to satisfy both China, which had concerns on such verification procedures, and the US, which had demanded them.


On the Net: