Cancún climate change talks: Opening and expectations

One year on from Copenhagen, the UN climate change talks began on Monday, hosted by the Government of Mexico, in Cancún.

The expectations for Copenhagen were high, some believe too high. Many goalposts were moved forward in Copenhagen, but yes, the meeting fell short of concluding on one legally binding agreement. In opening the COP16 meetings, the outgoing president of the Conference of the Parties, Lykke Friis (Danish Minister for Climate Change) stressed the need for a “response to climate change to match reality”. She also urged delegates to show the world that climate change was not “put on ice” in Copenhagen and that “Cancún can”.

Consequently, expectations for Cancun are significantly lower. Many delegates are keen to agree on a “balanced package” that would include some key aspects of the negotiations, such as a technology mechanisms, a green fund, and REDD+, but issues like mitigation and legal form will probably be left for COP17 in Durban, South Africa, next year. Interestingly, a concept of voting was encouraged by Papua New Guinea should consensus not be reached.

On Monday, the BINGO group, met with the Chairman of SBI (Subsidiary Body for Implementation), Australia’s Robert Owen-Jones, to raise the issue of improving access for the private sector in the negotiations, aiming to enhance the engagement with the private sector and possibly formalise it. Whilst the private sector is expected to deliver $100bn of climate finance, the meeting aimed to ensure that we also have a say in whether, how and when this can be delivered. On Tuesday, the International Council for Sustainable Energy (ICSE) delivered an official intervention on this topic to SBI. The intervention called for a possible timeline of such a dialogue including a workshop that would feed back to COP17.

Meanwhile, under the Kyoto Protocol Working Group (AWG-KP), the lines in the sand are more clearly drawn. On Tuesday, it became apparent that “Japan won’t accept a second Protocol commitment period” and many developing countries said that there will be no progress under the long-term cooperative action (AWG-LCA) without concrete progress under the AWG-KP. In order to facilitate progress, a meeting with the Chairs of the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA together with the troika (outgoing, current and incoming COP Presidents, Denmark, Mexico and South Africa respectively) has been proposed in order to maximise the chances on a successful outcome.

Consequently, Japan was the “lucky winner” of the Fossil of the Day award on Tuesday.

Maaike & Eva in Cancun (REEEP Southeast Asia and Pacific)

[Note: this is the first entry by the Southeast Asia & Pacific REEEP team from Mexico. We anticipate to be back regularly with more updates. Stay tuned ;-)]

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