The agreement recognises that climate change is an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet that needs to be addressed urgently by all parties. It reaffirms that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and that all parties must share a vision of long-term cooperative action in order to achieve the objective of the Convention, including the achievement of a global goal. It recognizes that the warming of the global system is scientifically verified and that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is most likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic concentrations of greenhouse gases, as assessed by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment Report. My second criterion was that the three main parts of the negotiations be consolidated. These tracks were: first, the UNFCCC CP track (negotiation of national targets for a possible second commitment period – after 2012 – for the Kyoto Protocol); secondly, the LCA pathway (the UNFCCC negotiating path for long-term cooperative action, i.e. a future international agreement of an indefinite nature); and thirdly, the Copenhagen Accord, which was negotiated and noted at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009. After the climate talks in Cancún, you may be wondering, „How does this agreement differ from the one reached in Copenhagen a year ago?“ In addition to the quick response – the length of the pages – there are significant differences in terms of content and process. Each of them gives more life to the Cancún Accords than to the Copenhagen Accords and creates a basis on which to build a greater international response to global warming. Here I will try to ask some of the big questions I receive and some answers (this should be read next to my in-depth blog on the results). This agreement is not limited to the one reached last year. And that should make a big difference on the ground.
Remember my November 19 essay that the best goal of the Cancun climate negotiations was to make real progress on a solid foundation for meaningful, long-term global action. I said this because of some fundamental scientific and economic realities that I will not repeat here. In this previous essay, I also described „what would represent real progress in Cancun.“ A quick comparison of my criteria of 19 November and the Cancun agreements of 11 December tells me that the Cancun result should be considered a success. Didn`t countries already commit in Copenhagen to reduce their emissions and be more transparent about their emissions and actions? So what`s different about how they`re reflected in the Cancun Accords? The Cancún Agreements – as the two key documents are called („AWG-LCA Outcome“ and „AWG-CP Outcome“) – do exactly what was needed, which is to build on the structure of the Copenhagen Accord with a balanced package that takes meaningful steps to implement the key elements of the Agreement. Delegates in Cancun managed to draft and adopt an agreement that includes greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments by all major economies in the world, sets up a fund to support the most vulnerable countries and avoids some political landmines that could have detonated the talks, namely decisions on the (very uncertain) future of the Kyoto Protocol. The agreement calls on rich countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as promised in the Copenhagen Accord and calls on developing countries to reduce their emissions. Developed countries, which should have been at the forefront of reducing emissions, will get away with a comparatively lower reduction in emissions than developing countries. While reducing from 0.8 to 1.8 Gt by 2020, developing countries are committed to reducing their emissions by 2.8 Gt.
The cost of achieving these goals may be too high for poor countries. It could undermine the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include the eradication of hunger and poverty and environmental sustainability. The United States, which has not yet committed to reducing emissions, has the most to benefit from the agreement. With the highest historical emissions, it must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020. But it will get away with reducing its 1990 values by zero percent. World leaders welcomed the Cancún agreement despite violating the right of developing countries to develop with equal access to the global carbon space. Bolivia was the only country to report inequality. When their ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solon, called the deal a step backwards, others booed him.
Industrialized countries and a few emerging economies have achieved the biggest coup in the history of climate negotiations: science and the principle of justice have been swept aside. There are several important reasons why it is different from the Copenhagen Accord. First, the Cancun Agreements* were indeed formally adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Countries have decided to adopt these agreements, which means that countries jointly agree to implement them. They can now be transformed into working procedures, rules and institutions. The status of the Copenhagen Accord was unclear, as countries could only „take note“ of the agreement. As a result, it has been difficult to translate the broad outlines of the agreement into feasible measures. This time, the formal adoption of the Cancun agreements allows countries to use the agreements as an agreed basis for further action. Delegates in Cancun deferred some important issues, such as the status of the Kyoto Protocol and the central issue of equitable burden-sharing. These will cause difficulties in the future.
However, the progress made at the Cancun meeting on a wide range of issues forms the basis for a future agreement. While the legal form of such an agreement remains uncertain, the Cancún agreements could reassure governments that the broad international debate under the UNFCCC is still useful and help guide preparations for the 2011 conference in South Africa. .