It did not attract as much media attention as COP15 in Copenhagen did in 2009. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, COP16 folded on a slightly more positive note than the disappointing edition of the previous year. But the agreement reached may have saved the UN process, Greenpeace said, but not the climate.
In an official press release, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) said “nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations, which will increase going forward”.
The conference produced a package of resolutions dubbed “Cancun Agreements” that was seen as a step forward, although it could have gone further, according to analysts.
According to a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the most promising aspect of the agreements sealed in Cancun is the mechanism to prevent deforestation in developing nations, a major source of emissions and biodiversity loss.
Still according to the Guardian, a fund of $100bn a year by 2020 will be raised to help poor nations cope with the impacts of climate change and help them make a shift to low-carbon technologies.
“What Cancun has done is restore confidence in the negotiation machinery that last year’s Copenhagen experience left in tatters,” said Dr. Kenneth Graham, of New Zealand’s Green Party. “But when the substance of current pledges is analyzed, we must realise we’re in danger of cementing in national pledges that are insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change.”
Dr. Graham says the combined pledges fall short of the agreed goal of keeping temperatures from rising less than 2º Celsius. The combined pledges made in Copenhagen result in a reduction to about 49.5 Gt while it’s necessary to reduce them to 45 Gt.
The international environmental organization welcomed the deal but singled out the US, Russia and Japan for criticism, saying the three countries had a negative influence on the negotiations. Russia and Japan were unhelpful by their statements against the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, Greenpeace said. The US’s commitment to reduce emissions was “meagre”, they said.
Greenpeace added that it was positive that governments acknowledged the gap between their current weak pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the goals they should aim for. They also recognized that these goals need to be in line with science (25-40 per cent cuts by 2020) and global temperature rise needs to be kept below two degrees.