After the disaster that was the Copenhagen Conference, hopes for achieving any substantial results at the Cancun Conference were modest. And, indeed, it looked initially as if those slim hopes were going to be self-fulfilling. But progress has been made and some excellent building blocks are now in place.
There is now an international commitment to “deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions” in order to stop the global average temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees C. Processes for adopting targets will be in place as soon as possible and these will be substantially reduced by 2050.
To increase transparency and confidence, systems will be developed to measure, report and verify emission reductions and developing countries will receive help in accessing low-carbon technology and adaptation to climate change.
It will also become more cost effective for developing countries to retain their trees rather than logging them: using the “REDD plus” process (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) these countries will be paid for keeping trees standing.
A Green Climate Fund, governed by a board with an equal mix of representation from developed and developing countries, to support policies and activities in developing countries. The finances will be managed by the World Bank.
The conference did not settle the future of the Kyoto Protocol but it is nonetheless assuring that, at last, some progress has been made towards a united international action plan to cope with the ever-looming climate change threat.
There is still a long way to go, but hopefully the results of Cancun will lead to stronger and more unified outcomes at the Durban Conference next year.