The United Nations Climate Conference at Cancun has come to an end on a rather optimistic note. It was a welcome change from the Copenhagen summit that had rich countries dominate the proceedings. Cancun proceedings were better organized and steered providing the space for the developing world to articulate its concerns. The main achievements can be listed as below:
- The targets set by industrialized countries for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are recognized as part of the multilateral process. They must now draw up low-carbon development plans and strategies and also report their inventories annually.
- In the case of developing countries, actions for emissions reduction will be recognized officially- a registry will record and match their mitigation actions to finance and technology support from rich countries; and they will report their progress every two years.
- The formulation of global goals for emissions reduction has been linked to considerations of equity in formulating these goals.
- There has been advance in areas such as adaptation and technology transfer; there are specific recommendations with some give and take marking progress in the contested area of monitoring, reporting, and verification.
These are small and slow yet significant steps. The main achievement of the Cancun meet has been that some degree of faith has been restored in the multilateral process without too much of arm-twisting or collapse of the process of dialogue. It is indeed a huge challenge to find an acceptable outcome where there is so much difference and contestations between the developed and the developing nations.
Cancun creates an opportunity for the world to raise the collective level of emission-reduction targets. However, it doesn’t guarantee success, and there is no more agreement on how much should be done and by which countries. These are THE critical questions that have been put off till the next year’s summit in Durban, South Africa.
Do you think Cancun delivered on its promise?