Cancun 2010 Analyses

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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

UNFCCC Cancun - COP 16 / CMP 6

29 Nov. - 10 December, 2010

Cancún Climate Change Conference
29 November - 10 December 2010 | Cancún, Mexico
Summary of the Meeting
COP 16 Closes with Adoption of Cancun Agreements

Earth Negotiations Bulletin ENB/IISD

Daily Summary Highlights of the Meeting,
Table of Contents, Photo Gallery

Curtain Raiser / Introduction


Summary with Brief Analysis (pp. 28-29)

Vol. 12 No. 498, Monday
December 13, 2010

This year was a make-or-break-year for international climate change negotiations. After the debacle in Copenhagen in 2009, many agreed that without a positive, balanced outcome in Cancun, there would be little chance of achieving meaningful global action on climate change and restoring trust in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. When the Cancun Agreements were adopted early on Saturday morning, there was a visible, cumulative sigh of relief. The Agreements, reflecting five years of work, leave many important details open, but garnered support from all but one of the Convention’s 194 parties. “The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process has been restored,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

(...   ...)

What, then, is the significance of the Cancun outcome for the UNFCCC process and for a meaningful global response to climate change? In many areas, important progress has been made on substance. Positive outcomes include the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Cancun Adaptation Framework. Many are also satisfied with the welcome signal regarding REDD+. In addition, although the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was not established, the Cancun Agreements bring industrialized countries’ mitigation targets and developing countries’ mitigations action formally under the UNFCCC process. Still, as important as these agreements may be, they represent only small steps in reducing global emissions that contribute to serious climate change..."


ASIL Insight

January 21, 2011
Volume 14, Issue 41

The Cancún Climate Conference
By Cesare Romano and Elizabeth Burleson

"...Agreements were reached in several important areas, including:

bulleta shared vision for long-term cooperative action;
bulletadaptation to climate change;
bulletreducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and conservation and sustainable management of forests (REDD+);
bullettechnology transfer cooperation and capacity building;
bulletclimate change mitigation; and
bulletfinance to support climate action in developing countries.

The Cancún Agreements received near universal acceptance, with the exception of Bolivia. That is a remarkable diplomatic feat. Yet, they fall short of what is needed to effectively tackle climate change.

(...   ...)

Many voices from across civil society have yet to have their say, and the silence surrounding the future of the Kyoto Protocol is deafening,[19]
but the international community agreed to
establish mitigation targets involving MRV as well as collectively adapt to
climate change. Establishing a technology transfer mechanism can go a
long way in accomplishing both, as can sensible forestry and land use
provisions. A climate fund can help realize these aspirations. Overall the
Cancún climate talks lay a robust framework for a legally binding agreement to be agreed upon in South Africa next year..."


Cancun Climate Summit Exceeds Low Expectations, But Sidesteps Trade Issues

Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest Volume 14 Number 44 • 22nd December 2010

"...The agreements reached in the Mexican beach resort do not establish caps on greenhouse gas emissions; on that crucial issue, they simply kick the can down the road to next year’s summit in Durban, South Africa. But governments agreed on an international system for monitoring mitigation, fleshed out a facility for climate finance, and established rules for rewarding forest preservation. They also steered clear of a clash that could have killed what remains of the Kyoto Protocol. Trade issues, from emissions resulting from the international shipment of goods to the use of unilateral trade measures ostensibly to offset reduced industrial competitiveness resulting from higher carbon costs, proved too contentious, and were left out of the text. Additionally, any references to the use of unilateral trade measures were removed, leaving a crucial element of enforcement and regulation unresolved. Clearly, trade issues proved to be some of the most difficult questions to untangle and agree upon in Cancun.

(...   ...)

Consensus or unanimity?

Throughout the final plenaries, Bolivia expressed again and again its disagreement with the content of the two texts. Its many objections ranged from what it felt was the insufficiency of the mitigation measures provided for to a lack of inclusiveness in the process. A few countries - including Venezuela, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia - acknowledged Bolivia’s objections and suggested heading back to negotiations, but eventually the Latin American country found itself isolated. When it looked as though the COP would come to a close despite its objections, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solon repeated that his government did not agree with the texts and therefore there was no consensus and, as such, they could not move forward. “Not even in Copenhagen, with all of the problems that there were, was this rule disrespected,” Solon said. Espinosa gavelled the agreements anyway, taking note of Bolivia’s objections. Bolivia spoke out again to complain that the rules of the international system were being violated. “This will set a dangerous precedent of exclusion,” Solon insisted. “It may be Bolivia tonight, but it could be any country tomorrow.” Espinosa responded that the consensus rule does not mean unanimity. She further responded that she could not permit one country to exercise an effective veto over 193 other countries. After the UNFCCC was concluded in 1992, parties to it were never able to agree on rules of procedure. In the absence of designed rules for decision-making, consensus had prevailed..."



Issue No. 244
December 2010

UN Climate Change Talks Take Ominous Turn
in Cancun

Several articles reporting in detail on the Cancun 2010
Climate Change negotiations of the are available online: