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From "Brokenhagen" to "Cancún Can!"

From "Brokenhagen" to "Cancún Can!"

The Cancún Climate Summit and its Significance for Transatlantic Relations

The climate summit 2010 in Cancún has mostly been considered a success. The revival of multilateralism has been prized as the most important outcome. However, it remains that  the most difficult decisions, were postponed in Cancún. Michael Mehling of Ecologic Institute outlines the importance of the results for transatlantic relations. The article is available for download.

For now, the modest success achieved in Cancún seems to have staved off calls for transitioning from intergovernmental climate collaboration to other kinds of forums and a greater emphasis on voluntary measures and regional or national approaches. The most difficult decisions, however, were postponed in Cancún, such as the tightening of insufficient reduction goals agreed upon in Copenhagen, the legal form of a future climate agreement, and the question of how to raise and secure funds long term for financing climate protection measures.

Nevertheless, the Cancún summit has jump-started several important processes and paved the way to a new round of talks.

The significance of the Cancún climate summit, with these primarily procedural decisions, will be of secondary importance for transatlantic relations at this time. A topic that still offers potential for future transatlantic discourse is energy security and its defense- and security-policy-related manifestations.

The biggest danger arises from the possibility of the EU turning its back on the US altogether after having their excessive expectations disappointed one more time. This, however, would be a disastrous mistake: restructuring the US economy on the basis of sustainable precepts will require time and patience, as was also the case in Europe.


Mehling, Michael 2010: From »Brokenhagen« to »Cancún Can!« - The Cancún Climate Summit and its Significance for Transatlantic Relations. Washington DC: Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), USA.

5 pp.
Table of Contents
  • Procedural progress
  • New impetus for the spirit of multilateralism?
  • The Cancún Summit 2010 and its impact on transatlantic relations
Climate negotiations, climate summit, UNFCCC, transatlantic relations, international environmental law, USA, EU, Cancún, Copenhagen