However, the issue of agreeing on a new target for the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 was not resolved, meaning the standoff between developing and developed nations on the issue continues for another year until the next meeting again in South Africa.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres was upbeat after the event.
“Cancun has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored. Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all,” she said.
Back home, Climate Institute deputy CEO Erwin Jackson was more cautious, saying “while some aspects are disappointing, COP 16 delivered important progress in several key areas. Most significantly, a formal UN decision anchoring pollution limitation and reduction targets covering over 80% of global emissions”
“This is the first time we’ve seen the US, together with China and all other major emitters, anchoring their national pollution targets in a formal UN agreement - the significance of this should not be underestimated.
“Without a domestic pollution limit and price, Australia can’t cooperate fully internationally as it cannot meet the commitments made in Cancun. Without a domestic pollution price we will continue to be left behind by countries dominating the emerging low pollution economy and the agreements at Cancun leave no excuse for inaction in 2011.”
Kyoto and US Congress the main hurdles
However, James Murray from US website businessgreen.com highlighted a raft of loopholes and said “the chances of a new all-encompassing international treaty being agreed before the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 remain somewhere between slim and very slim”
He cited the new Republic an influence in the US Congress as effectively ruling out ratification of a binding international treaty, even if a draft agreement can be finalised in South Africa.
“What will most likely happen is we will end up with a semi-binding agreement to curb emissions than another treaty in the Kyoto mold, which raises the prospect of furious developing countries storming out of next year’s talks,” he argued.
The 10 Cancun Agreement points are:
1. Industrialised country targets are officially recognised under the multilateral process and these countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies and assess how best to meet them, including through market mechanisms, and to report their inventories annually;
2. Developing country actions to reduce emissions are officially recognised under the multilateral process. A registry is to be set up to record and match developing country mitigation actions to finance and technology support from by industrialised countries. Developing countries are to publish progress reports every two years;
3. Parties meeting under the Kyoto Protocol agree to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty;
4. The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism has been strengthened to drive more major investments and technology into environmentally sound and sustainable emission reduction projects in the developing world;
5. Parties launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures;
6. A total of US$30 billion in fast start finance from industrialised countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise US$100 billion in long-term funds by 2020 is included in the decisions;
7. A process to design a Green Climate Fund under the Conference of the Parties, with a board with equal representation from developed and developing countries, is established;
8. A new Cancun Adaptation Framework is established to allow better planning and implementation of adaptation projects in developing countries through increased financial and technical support, including a clear process for continuing work on loss and damage;
9. Governments agree to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support; and
10. Parties have established a technology mechanism with a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network to increase technology cooperation to support action on adaptation and mitigation.
The next Conference of the Parties (COP 17) will head to South Africa, from November 28 to December 9, 2011.
First published on WME Environmental Management News