Added by James Morley on December 1, 2010
The two-week United Nations climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, will provide concrete progress on international measures to tackle global warming, hope negotiators.
Christina Figueres, UN head of climate change, said to participants: “You are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change,” although negotiators argue there will be no global treaty agreed upon; rather they expect deals on separate issues, such as deforestation; sharing of technologies; and a climate change fund for developing nations.
There has been varied optimism leading up to the meeting, and only 20 world leaders are reportedly expected to attend. “It’s crucial for the international community to prove that Cancun can deliver progress: if not, I fear that some parties would lose patience in the UN process,” said Connie Hedegaard, European Union climate commissioner.
At the centre of the talks will be the progress in the relationship between China and the U.S.; together they emit 40 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, but the deep divisions between the countries have halted earlier climate negotiations.
However, Martin Kaiser from Greenpeace Germany, warned of using the lack of U.S. action as an excuse for moving climate negotiations forward much too slow.
Environmental groups are urging governments to make progress in climate negotiations, before it is too late; something that was echoed in Mexican President Felipe Calderon opening speech: “Climate change is already a reality for us”… “[it] is beginning to make us pay for the fatal errors we as humanity have committed against the environment.”
Another factor making Cancun particularly urgent is the Kyoto Protocol, the first global climate treaty, which is due to expire in 2012, without the existence of an alternative agreement to replace it.