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The Debate December 5, 2010

Posted by agastyamuthanna in Climate Change.
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We were welcomed to the official meeting at Cancun with a party thrown by the Mexican Govt. on Monday night. The atmosphere was amazing. Last year the equivalents event organised by the Govt. of Denmark was full of Diplomats sipping Champagne slowly for 30 minutes before politely excusing themselves. The Mexican event  was a real party. Men on brought invited us in to a a beautiful open air venue which opened to the gulf of Mexico. The food was prepared by Mexico’s most famous Chef, and the bar served unlimited drinks of every imaginable sort. Most country delegations were present, as were the President of this years Conference as well as the head of the UNFCCC secretariat. The music was outstanding and everyone was relaxed.

It was difficult for me to be anything but optimistic. The negotiations on the first day had been relatively upbeat, and I was excited. Unlike COP15 I came into the process expecting absolutely nothing, since all the negotiators I had spoken to this time around have emphasised the focus on smaller scale technical matters this time around. It was a good night. Infact I have a picture somewhere (which I will certainly try and put up) of me with my arms around the two most important peole at the conference – the president and the head of the Secretariat! Which is no mean task given the approximately 1000 people there.

On to more serious news. The next day was a disaster. Japan stood up during the COP to say in very straight language (Which is extremely rare in conferences such as this one) that it would not sign any extension of the Kyoto Proposal until both the US and China agree to legally binding Carbon emission limits. I should not have been as surprised as I was – since they have hinting they would this for a while now, it was just the stark non-ambiguous language of the delegate that shocked me.  This leaves everyone in a bit of confusion. If the Kyoto protocol is not extended, the CDM mechanism that has brought billions of dollars to developing countries like India and China will be scrapped. If this happens it will be almost impossible to get developing countries to endorse a deal of any type.

Maybe this years conference will not be as successful as I believed in my slightly drunk state on Monday night. With Key countries like Canada and Australia furiously Backtracking on their already vague and unenforceable promises, and Japan promising not to do anything unless China and the US commit to legally enforceable Carbon emission reductions.

Is everything so black and white? Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, It probably will be near impossible to convince China to agree to legally binding emission reductions. Japans many domestic adaptation and mitigation actions have been forgotten, and Japans action is being used as scapegoate by countires like Canada and Australia, who are equally against a deal of any sort. This is a bleak statement. But is everything as bad as this seems? This is not the entire story.

For one thing there seems to be a deals on REDD (an international anti deforestation scheme) and a climate fund. These two vitally important points ,if agreed upon, could lead to a solid foundation for a more thorough deal at South Africa next year.

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