UN climate change talks get underway in Cancun
As the 16th conference of the parties (COP16) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gets underway today in Cancún, Mexico, UK Climate Change and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has expressed his intention to ensure progress:
“We’ve got this next fortnight to get the global climate talks back on track. We won’t get a full binding deal in Cancun, but people and businesses around the world will be watching and expecting to see us prepare the ground.
“This means making progress on issues such as financial assistance to help developing countries deal with climate change, tackling deforestation, bringing the promises made in the Copenhagen Accord into the formal UN process, and agreeing a system to make sure countries live up to their commitments to take action on emissions.”
Promoting dialogue and a broader agenda
As conference host, Mexico has asserted its desire to promote dialogue and facilitate parallel activities to allow a wider range of participants, including business and civil society, to create an “agenda that goes beyond mere technical discussions”.
The Climate Change Village is a public space hosting cultural and artistic events and exhibits, business presentations and thematic debates amongst representatives of civil society, to promote concepts, projects and dialogue on the subject of climate change.
Spotlight on the emissions gap
A new report, compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and launched ahead of the Cancun conference, finds that the pledges made at COP15 in Copenhagen last year will, if fully met, deliver 60% of the emissions reductions required to keep the rise in global temperatures under 2 degrees. The report draws attention to the 5 gigatonne “emissions gap” between where nations might be in 2020 and where science suggests they should be.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, stressed the need for pledges to be met:
“The results indicate that the UN meeting in Copenhagen could prove to have been more of a success than a failure if all the commitments, intentions and funding, including fully supporting the pledges of developing economies, are met.”
“There is a gap between the science and current ambition levels. But, what this report shows is that the options on the table right now in the negotiations can get us almost 60 per cent of the way there. This is a good first step.”
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urged nations to go further:
“I encourage all Parties to make good on their national mitigation pledges, and to further progress within the negotiations as well as through strengthened efforts on the ground to curb emissions. There is no time to waste. By closing the gap between the science and current ambition levels, we can seize the opportunity to usher in a new era of low-carbon prosperity and sustainable development for all.”
Six key issues
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), an independent, non-profit research institute, has published a briefing setting out what it sees as the six key issues:
- Shared vision;
- Climate finance;
- Technology transfer;
- Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation;
- Post-2012 emissions reductions targets.
Webcasts and further reading
- Live and on-demand webcasts of conference proceedings;
- UN Framework Convention on Climate Change;
- COP16, Cancun, Mexico;
- The Emissions Gap Report Are the Copenhagen Accord pledges sufficient to limit global warming to 2°C or 1.5°C? (United Nations Environment Programme);
- Climate watchlist: key issues for Cancun negotiations: IIED briefing.
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