Climate deal: next stop South Africa
13 December 2010Delegates to the United Nations climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico reached a number of agreements that will provide the basis for tackling climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires – but left it to South Africa to do the hard yards to ensure a strong climate change accord when it hosts the next summit in 2011.
The Cancun Agreements, approved after marathon talks at the Mexican resort on the weekend, include formalising mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to protect the world's forests, which account for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions.
Agreement was also reached on establishing a fund for long-term climate financing to support developing countries, and bolstering technology cooperation and enhancing vulnerable populations' ability to adapt to climate change.
"Cancun has done its job," UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres said in a statement on Saturday. "The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Cancun Agreements "have given us important tools. Now we must use them, and strengthen our efforts in line with the scientific imperative for action."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that the Agreements represented "meaningful progress" in the global response to climate change, advancing each of the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord of 2009.
"They anchor the accord's mitigation pledges, build on a system of transparency …, launch a new Green Climate Fund, create a framework to reduce deforestation in developing countries, establish a technology mechanism, and set up a framework and committee to promote international cooperation and action on adaptation."
However, as Jocelyn Newmarch writes in Business Day: "Critical issues such as ambitious emissions cuts and the future of the Kyoto Protocol have been postponed once again. The US again sidestepped any hard concessions."
The Cancun Agreements, Newmarch writes, are "a hollow shell which will need much fleshing out. South Africa, which hosts next year's summit in Durban, has its work cut out for it to ensure a strong accord."
The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
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