Cancun Ends On Slightly Better Note Than Copenhagen

climate-change-talks-cancunCancun ends. Qatar’s happy, so is Saudi Arabia. But Bolivia’s not.

Not every country whose representatives attended the climate talks in Mexico are pleased with the outcome. CNN reports that Bolivia sought to block what is being dubbed the “Cancun Agreement,” saying that the text of that agreement is hollow, and that the failure will lead to loss of human life.

Even so, tiny rhetorical steps were taken, and the United States and Mexico were eager to call the conference a success. In addition to sparing forests worldwide, a Green Climate Fund to help poor nations combat climate change is supposed to be established and Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) will be funded under the UN.Bolivia is particularly opposed to the failure to extend the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012 since it means that industrial nations have not put serious emissions reductions measures in place. The United States, which never signed on to the pact, is the world’s worst greenhouse gas offender.

Instead, a plan that was proposed by Qatar and that is bound to make oil states happy as it extends the lifetime of their industries, the United Nations has included CCS as part of its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This technology – the efficacy and safety of which is still in question – will allow fossil fuel producers capture emissions and potentially bury them deep underground.

Rich states are expected to reduce their carbon emissions up to 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, but the details of how that will be accomplished will only be discussed next year in Durban, South Africa – at the next climate gathering.

One potentially positive outcome is the promise to established the Green Climate Fund, up to $100 billion by 2020, which will help poor countries. Critics note that no real discussion was given to how that fund will be generated, or how it will be allocated. One journalist based in Africa, Jeffrey Barbee, notes that the World Bank has been appointed as the interim guardian of the fund. He worries that it will be allocated to large “greenwashing” firms and that they monies will not trickle down to green grassroots initiatives.

Even so, most delegates and environmentalists feel less pessimistic about the outcome of Cancun than they blanket depression that characterized the summit of Copenhagen.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s chief negotiator at the conference, told CNN that Cancun had “reignited” hope.

“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 in a statement.

But Bolivia is far less enthusiastic, according to the paper.

“For us, this is not a step forward. It is a step back, because what is being done here is postponing without limit the discussion on the Kyoto Protocol,” Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon told delegates early Saturday.

:: CNN

More on climate change discussions:

Is the Middle East taking Climate Change Seriously?

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Climate Change Denial and the Climate of Fear

image via UN Climate Talks

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