12 December 2010

The Cancún accords

I searched various news websites in vain for the text of what was agreed at Cancún. I eventually found them for download from the UNFCC. The text is dry and technical, but the document on 'Long Term Cooperative Actions' does contain some useful results:

1. Developing countries commit to emissions reductions in principle, to having them verified if they are funded by others and to
2. The funding commitment of $30b by 2012 is reaffirmed with a plea to make it specific and start spending it
3. REDD+ gets the green light, with safeguards to make sure that developing countries are in charge of the process, emissions reductions are verified and indigenous peoples consulted and protected. No doubt we will continue quibbling about the details, but now we can do so on the basis of funded pilot programs and research rather than speculation
4. Adaptation is given higher priority and actions are promised to sort out the funding for it, which in my experience is both slow and insufficient.

There are also some honest admissions: first, that the targets and commitments are still way too low and second that little of the money promised at Copenhagen has materialised so far. Maybe most worrying is that some developed countries now want to abandon even the pathetic commitments they made at Kyoto, which makes the chances of getting another legally binding deal look slim. (Japan? Seriously?)

Overall, a disappointing conclusion to another year of talking while the world warms, but a baby step in the right direction and an impressive achievement by the Mexican hosts to get anything at all. I am more convinced than ever that countries and cities need to move faster and that it is in our economic self-interest, even before the environmental consequences are taken into account, to do so, even if others don't.

01 December 2010

Is anyone going to Cancun?

I am not - it's too far for someone who purports to care about climate change and with most of Europe under snow I probably wouldn't make it over anyway.

For anyone who does head to Cancun, though, I would recommend this article in China Daily by Bruce Au and Thomas Hale (disclaimer: Bruce is a friend, but I had nothing to do with the article!). Their point is a an interesting variation on the "let the willing countries and cities get on with it" argument: namely, that there are willing cities and industries in China whom we would do well to engage in whatever global efforts we can, while governments fiddle and the US Congress contemplates the abyss.

Meanwhile, has anyone worked out what North Korea's emissions are?