Although the expectations placed on the Danish Summit of 2009 (COP15) last year were very high, the poor results obtained caused that with respect to the Cancun Summit (COP16) these expectations were lowered considerably.
The Copenhagen Accord resulting from COP15, signed by 111 countries, did not mean any progress in terms of setting binding emission reduction targets. Although the announcement of emission reduction targets by countries as important as the United States or China (countries that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol) was significant, these and the rest of the targets announced by other countries are not ambitious enough to to limit the increase in temperature below two degrees Celsius, a limit set by the international scientific community so as not to see ourselves doomed to irreversible climate change with very severe consequences.
The increasingly relevant role of countries with developing economies such as China, India or Brazil, or the manifest discontent expressed by countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela or Cuba caused after Copenhagen to question the multilateral negotiation system sponsored by United Nations or the feasibility of a supposed extension of the Kyoto Protocol. These factors raised fears that a total stalemate in the climate negotiations would occur at the Cancun Summit.
Although from COP16 no legally binding agreement has emerged nor have sufficiently ambitious reduction targets been established, such as those demanded by the scientific community, the consensus reached around other important issues seems to have saved the multilateral negotiation process(as the Framework Convention itself congratulated in a press release of the United Nations), considering that good foundations have been laid to reach an agreement at the next Summit in South Africa that includes an extension of the Kyoto Protocol that manages to establish an effective long-term emission reduction strategy. term.
Thus, from the point of view of the credibility of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change a> And of the suitability of this forum to achieve an international consensus, the results of COP16 have been valued positively. For example, Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, stated that “the Cancun agreement on climate change is an important step towards the creation of a comprehensive and legally binding framework to set global climate action” .
For her part Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Action for Clima stated that “the European Union has come to Cancun to obtain a substantial package of pragmatic decisions and to keep the international negotiations on climate change alive. We have contributed to producing the fruitful results that the world expected and claimed, however, the two weeks spent in Cancun have once again demonstrated the complexity and difficulty of the process.Each of us must be aware of the long and difficult path that awaits us until we reach the goal of a legally binding global reference framework “.
The results of the Cancun Summit are reflected in the so-called “Agreements in Cancun for a new era of international cooperation on climate change”, signed by 193 of the 194 parties belonging to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Bolivia has not signed and has announced that it will challenge the documentin front of the Court of The Hague).
Some of the most important aspects reflected in the Copenhagen Accords are:
- For the first time, a United Nations document recognizes the need to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius with respect to the temperature of the pre-industrial era and establishes a process to define a date of maximum peak for world emissions with a reduction objective in the 2050 horizon.
- The emissions efforts of developed and developing countries have been integrated into the United Nations process and a process has been instituted to help clarify them.
- It includes an agreement on the initiation of a process to reinforce the transparency of the actions aimed at reducing or limiting emissions, in order to carry out a more effective monitoring of the progress achieved.
- The objective of developed countries to allocate, from now (2010) to 2020, 100,000 million dollars a year to finance climate actions in developing countries is confirmed. In this way, a Green Fund for the climate will be created, which will channel an important part of this financing.
- Adaptation activities are reinforced in the face of the impacts of climate change.
- A mechanism is established REDD+ which will contribute to the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
- An agreement is established regarding the convenience of establishing new mechanisms for the carbon market that are not limited to a project-based system.
- The establishment of a technology mechanism, comprising a technology executive committee and a climate technology center and network, is advocated to promote technology development and transfer.
- The establishment of a transparent process is required to review the adequacy of the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C, without losing sight of the 1.5°C target, which must be reached by 2015.
- One-year extension of the tasks of the ad hoc working groups under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, leaving open the legal form of an eventual outcome of the negotiations.
As general conclusions, it can be stated that: the Cancun Summit has cleared up doubts about the viability of the climate negotiations developed within the United Nations; Although no progress has been made in establishing a legally binding agreement, the bases have been strengthened so that obligatory reduction targets are established at the next Summit in South Africa, expanding the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol; Although the announcement of the creation of a Green Fund is a positive aspect, it will have to ensure that the financing really flows; This aspect and others related to adaptation are, in turn, positive elements of the Cancun Agreements.