Mexico conference preview

Mexico conference preview

Environmental officials and ministers are preparing to meet in Mexico later this month to work on a global climate deal. But just how much should we expect from the talks?

With the disappointment of the Copenhagen talks still raw for many, expectations for the Mexico climate change conference are low.

The UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Cancún from 29 November to 10 December. The official title is the ‘16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’ which is usually abbreviated to COP16.

Several key players have already gone on record saying they do not expect a binding deal this year. In August 2010, Ban Ki-Moon said he doubted that member states will reach a new global agreement to address global warming.

The UK’s commitment to the talks has also been questioned after David Cameron did not mention climate change in his speech to the Conservative Party, despite claiming to be the “greenest government ever”.

India’s Environment Minister announced in September that the focus was already post-Cancún and that he thinks a final agreement can be made at COP17. It is hoped the negotiations in Mexico will set the basis for a new climate change treat at next year’s talks in South Africa.

However, the Kyoto Protocol, adopted in December 1997, is due to run out in 2012. Negotiations on a replacement started at Bali in 2007 and governments hoped that a new deal would be completed at the Danish capital. If a new treaty or an extension of Kyoto is not reached there may be a period without any global commitment to cut emissions.

Speaking after Copenhagen, Bairbre deBrún said that “developing countries should not be left to reap what the developed world has sown”. She also said that any deal that is made must be strong enough to tackle the challenge of climate change while being just and fair to developing countries.

“Industrialised countries must commit to at least a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and an 80 per cent to 95 per cent reduction by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

“The EU must commit to at least €30 billion per year in climate funding to developing countries by 2020 in addition to overseas development aid,” she said.

Ahead of the conference, talks took place in Tianjin, China, in early October with around 3,100 delegates attending from over 175 countries. Negotiators have now produced a draft decision text that will be submitted to the Cancún conference.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said the latest round of discussions had been positive: “This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancún.”

She added: “I understand there is disappointment with the multilateral process but this issue is not easy. This is the greatest societal and economic transformation that the world has ever seen.”

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