WWF reports that Cancún meeting puts momentum back into global climate talks

December 11th, 2010 by WWF

Cancún, Mexico

World governments this morning laid tentative groundwork for a global agreement to fight climate change by agreeing a series of commitments at the climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico.

Cancun climate change conference closing session (image courtesy of Dr Owen Day - click image to expand)

Governments agreed on a set of decisions that will support further talks over the next year with the objective of a final outcome at next year’s talks in Durban, South Africa.

Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK, said  “after Copenhagen it was hoped that Cancún could establish a platform for progressing action on climate change. Despite some last minute hiccups, countries leave here with a renewed sense of goodwill and some sense of purpose.”

“However, a lot of work must be done to ensure that the agreements reached in Cancún are built on effectively next year. The UK and EU must not squander this chance – they need to champion much more ambitious action to cut emissions and close the ‘gigatonne gap’. As a bare minimum, the EU needs to move to 30 percent reductions by 2020 as soon as possible. Doing so would be good for Europe’s economy, the health of its population, and allow the EU to lead with greater authority.

“Governments backed a new global “green fund”. The UK needs to drive this forward by backing new sources of finance, such as levies on international aviation and shipping. This would begin to tackle eight percent of global emissions while simultaneously securing billions of dollars to tackle the climate crisis.

Chris Huhne has worked hard and played a positive role in these talks. It was absolutely right for him to remain here.”

After two weeks of negotiations, governments made measurable progress in several important areas, but a lot more work and some big political challenges remain.

Gordon Shepherd, head of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative, commented on the following areas:

The Kyoto Protocol

“While Governments weren’t able to decide on a second phase for the Kyoto Protocol, a process has been set in motion to do so next year in Durban. Major difficulties remain with objecting countries, namely Japan and Russia, who will now face mounting pressures to join the global community in extending the Kyoto Protocol. Countries under Kyoto recognised more firmly that they need to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 and acknowledge that their pledges for emission reductions are just a start – much more is needed to reach the shared goal of limiting temperature increase to 2°C. Over the next year, they need to roll up their sleeves and be prepared to work hard and creatively to close this gap.”

Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)

“In a critical move, countries reached agreement on a major sticking point within the negotiations around a set of rules for the measurement, reporting and verification of emission reductions and finance.”


“Negotiators established an adaptation committee and its functions, but the issues of defining vulnerability and an international mechanism on loss and damage remain unresolved.”


“The decision addressing emissions from deforestation, also know as REDD+, provides a foundation for moving the process forward and an agenda for the work that needs to be done – but safeguards were weakened and the text is confused about the scale of implementation.”


“The Mexican presidency deserves much credit for the handling of the negotiations which helped bring governments together, especially on thorny issues. They created a negotiation atmosphere that was inclusive and efficient – and which directly helped countries regain confidence in the UNFCCC process.

“It was also clear from the outset that many countries had done the critical work at home that allowed them to more confidently position themselves within a global framework. Strong domestic actions, such as Mexico’s national REDD+ vision and proposals for the UK to cut emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030, also infused momentum into the talks.

The future

“The United States of America got off relatively easy in Cancún, failing to agree to robust reporting and review for its own actions. To build trust in the year ahead, the USA should embark on a clear process to pull together its domestic efforts to reduce emissions into a transparent action plan that will put it on the road to a clean energy economy. The United States of America should then come to Durban ready to join the world in support of a legally binding agreement.

“We also need countries to go home and continue to develop national plans to curb climate change. They must bring these actions into the international process if we are to truly secure an agreement in South Africa that meaningfully addresses dangerous climate change and helps vulnerable communities adapt.”

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