UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún delivers balanced package of decisions

20 Dec 2010

Ha Noi – The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, ended with the adoption of a balanced package of decisions that sets all governments more firmly on the path towards a low-emissions future and supports enhanced action on climate change in the developing world. The package, dubbed the ‘Cancún Agreements’, was welcomed to loud and prolonged applause in the final plenary. The Government of Viet Nam has hailed the Cancún Agreements as an important step forward.

“Cancún has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at the close of the conference.

Nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations.

They also agreed that countries need to work to stay below a two degree Celcius mean global temperature rise and set a clear timetable for review, to ensure that global action is adequate to meet the emerging reality of climate change. However, critics point out that the ‘below two degree’ target is too weak and that the Cancún Agreements are only one step because current emission reduction commitments fall well short of what is needed, even for the two degree target.

At the conference, the Vietnamese delegation included officials from the ministries of natural resources and environment, foreign affairs, agriculture and rural development, and planning and investment. The delegation worked as a member of the ‘Group of 77 and China’ and made interventions on a number of different topics.

There will be a critical role to play for the UN and other multilateral organizations in designing the new institutions and implementing the agreements, particularly in terms of building and strengthening the wide range of capacities that are needed in developing countries.

More specific elements of the Cancún Agreements include:

  •     Industrialised country targets are officially recognised under the multilateral process and these countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies and assess how best to meet them.
  •     Developing country actions to reduce emissions are officially recognised under the multilateral process. A registry is to be set up to record and match developing country mitigation actions to finance and technology support from industrialised countries.
  •     The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms has been strengthened to drive more investments and technology into environmentally sound and sustainable emission reduction projects in the developing world.
  •     A total of US$30 billion in fast start finance from industrialised countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise US$100 billion annually from 2020 is included in the decisions. Also, a process to design a Green Climate Fund is established.
  •     Governments agreed to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support – establishing a formal REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism. REDD is important for Viet Nam because it could help improve the quality of Viet Nam’s forests, as well as strengthen the livelihoods of people and communities who are dependent on forests.

For more on the climate change conference, see the UNFCC website: http://unfccc.int