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The State of International Climate Negotiations After Cancún: Prospects for Progress and Potential Challenges

The State of International Climate Negotiations After Cancún: Prospects for Progress and Potential Challenges

24 February 2011

At an event hosted by the Mexican Embassy, Dr. Camilla Bausch of Ecologic Institute and Secretary Miriam Medel of the Mexican Embassy in Berlin discussed the results of the latest international climate negotiations which were held in Cancún, Mexico, end of 2010. The event was opened by the Mexican Ambassador Francisco N. González Díaz. The dialogue was initiated by Ecologic Institute’s Ecoscholars.

Ecoscholars is a discussion and networking group for international scholars and experts who are involved in climate change, sustainable development and other environmental topics in Berlin.

Embassy representatives from several countries of the Latin American and Caribbean Group along with members of local and international non-governmental organizations attended the discussion and shared their views and thoughts on climate change negotiations during the two-hour roundtable. In his opening remarks, the Mexican Ambassador noted the importance of such dialogue as a means of promoting ambassadors for the environment across borders and into new levels of cooperation.

Dr. Camilla Bausch, who was part of the German negotiating team in Cancún, then provided an introductory outline of climate change negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, followed by an overview of the recent history of climate negotiations — from the Bali Action Plan in 2007 to the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 to the Cancún Agreements in 2010, leading to the major opportunities and challenges to be met on the way to climate summit in Durban, South-Africa, end of 2011.

Secretary Miriam Medel, who was part of the Mexican negotiating team in Cancún, explained that Mexico’s strategy to achieve progress had centered in developing an environment of transparency, inclusion, credibility and political will not only during the negotiations but prior to these. In order to overcome the obstacles rising after Copenhagen, Mexico would need to establish a strong, credible and reliable presidency with a clear and open strategy. The approach followed by the Mexican COP Presidency was based on three main pillars:

  1. developing trust and transparency,
  2. increasing political will, and
  3. ensuring inclusiveness.  

Furthermore, Sec. Medel outlined the actions undertaken by Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP President Patricia Espinosa in the light of the Presidency’s strategy and that proved to be highly influential to the outcome of the convention. An open-door policy, ongoing dialogue with stakeholders at all levels, expectation management and an around-the-world diplomacy effort in the year leading up to the Cancún conference were defined as the key success elements of the conference.

The Cancún Agreements, which advance and build on the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord, define the climate agenda for 2011 and beyond. Among other issues, the Agreements officially recognize the determination to keep average global temperature rise to less than 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. They also designate financing to support climate action for developing countries in the amount of $30 billion by 2012 and the intention to raise $100 billion in funds by 2020.

The session proceeded with Dr. Bausch exposing the challenges on the road leading to the conference in Durban at the end of 2011. Among others, issues highlighted were the actual operationalization and implementation of the Agreements, the management of expectations towards the climate summit in Durban, and the challenge to agree on mitigation objectives which put the world on a credible pathway towards meeting the 2°C challenge – which is all the more pressing as the global pledges on the table are by far not sufficient to reach this goal.

The hope of Mexico, as it hands over the reins to the South African presidency, is that the world will continue to "build a new era of international cooperation, where sustainable development becomes a reality," Sec. Medel said.

Further links:

Miriam Medel
Ecoscholars, Germany
24 February 2011
Berlin, Germany
Mexico, climate, Embassy, Durban, Cancún, negotiations, Ecoscholars, pledges, Medel, summit, mitigation, climate finance, UNFCCC