Mexico outlines road to Cancún climate conference

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Mexico, the host of the next high-level UN climate conference on climate change, is working to draw up objectives for the Cancún talks, which will continue the search for a new international climate agreement at the end of the year .

Speaking in Brussels yesterday (15 March), Mexico's Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said the legal form of the agreement will be dealt with last in the negotiations.

"One of the points we want to make towards Cancún at the end of the year is to build the operational decisions, the facts, the results, the goals that we want to have for Cancún, and then think about the legal format of the decision," Quesada told journalists during his visit in Brussels.

He said Mexico would spend the next few months talking to other nations, before outlining the goals of the conference to other parties in the summer.

Quesada was meeting with EU environment ministers in Brussels in order to assess European expectations for the UN climate conference (COP16) in Cancún at the end of the year, which is to continue on the basis of the Copenhagen Accord agreed in the Danish capital last December.

The Copenhagen Accord was a disappointment to the EU as it was not legally binding, but the EU's new climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, has since stated that she does not believe Cancún will deliver a binding agreement either.

However, the Mexican environment minister said Mexico did not want to start talking about the legal status of any potential deal yet in order to avoid more disappointment. Instead, it would work toward concrete policy decisions.

According to Quesada, work ahead of the meeting willd include implementing fast-start funding to cover adaptation efforts in the 2010-2013 period, and finding agreement on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (the so-called REDD+ mechanism), long-term funding and emission reduction goals.

Quesada promised that Mexico would offer a "very open process" and work with all countries. He stressed that they would attend to the needs of fellow developing countries.

The environment minister visited India last month and is in the process of arranging a meeting with the 56 ministers from Africa in June. He stressed that poor countries are expecting fast-start funding to be deployed in order to move towards an agreement.

As for the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, Quesada said it will need to continue unless the parties find another instrument with which to substitute it.

"We need to have in mind that for the developing countries, the presence of the Kyoto Protocol is very important," he said.

The EU went to Copenhagen with a strategy to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a new framework covering all nations and was accused by poor countries of trying to kill it. The tone has since changed, and Hedegaard has gone on record as saying that the EU does not have anything against the protocol but it needs reforming (EURACTIV 10/03/10).

The Copenhagen climate conference in December was designed to secure a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

But after two weeks of extenuating talks, world leaders delivered an agreement that left Europeans disappointed, as it did not include binding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions (EURACTIV 19/12/09).

The face-saving deal, dubbed the 'Copenhagen Accord', established a goal to keep global temperature rises below 2°C in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

On 9 March, the European Commission presented its strategy to reinvigorate global climate talks after Copenhagen (EURACTIV 10/03/10). It called for the swift implementation of fast-track funding to developing countries and called for the closing of loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol.

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):Homepage

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