Day 13 – A Fair, Ambitious and Legally Binding Treaty?

An exhausted, but hopeful hello to all climate enthusiasts,

It’s 2:30am on Saturday morning (the last night of the 2010 Climate Change negotiations) here in Mexico, and the mood is high. It seems, that after 2 weeks of intense, deadlocked negotiations, all 194 nations of the world have reached an agreement which takes significant steps towards a safer climate. The agreement is not perfect, and there is much work to do, but as UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Ms. Christiana Figueres stated almost 2 weeks ago, this is about compromise, and collaboration towards a process on which we can build a stable future.

The governments of the world are sorting out the final details of what will be the foundations of an agreement to be made in Durban, 2011. The deal has been brokered by none other than Ms Espinosa (the current President of the COP), remaining calm and giving member states room to breathe and discuss their issues in a constructive environment. Her 4th draft text represents her truly commendable efforts in diplomacy over the past two weeks.

So as we push in to the early hours of the morning, what is it that’s so positive about the current text?

  • There is strong mention of a USD$100,000,000,000 per year fund by 2020 to be created by the Global North, for low income countries across the world. Better still, this fund will be directed by a “Green Climate Fund”, which will direct the development assistance. This is to have a 24 member board (12 from low income countries and 12 from high income countries), with the World Bank acting as the INTERIM trustee off the fund. This is important, as it means that we now have a funding mechanism directed by the COP.
  • There is recognition within the text of the need to review and consider regulations to prevent a rise in global average temperature of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and targets for working out a “global goal for substantially reduced global emissions by 2050”
  • Much of the USD$30 Billion per year Fast Start Finance has been agreed upon to help mitigation action occur immediately.
  • Large proportions of REDD+ has been agreed on, and there is now the potential for international financial mechanisms to help protect national rainforests.
  • Following a series of strong political statements (including India indicating its willingness to move to legally binding agreement), China ended its blockade on the MRV’s. The V refers to Verification, which means that China will be open to international overview of its mitigation efforts. Political openness such as this is almost unprecedented, and goes a long way to changing the feel of the negotiations.
  • Under the new agreement, there will be the mandate for the construction of a regional Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network – essentially, big, practical steps towards Technology sharing from the Global North to the Global South. Brilliant!
  • There is also additional measures mentioned in regards to adaptation, with enhances planning and disaster risk management. There is even the potential for a ‘climate insurance risk facility’. (ideas for this will be submitted up until Feb 2011, and you can bet that the IFMSA will be first in line with its submission!)
  • “Long-Term Cooperative Action” has had its mandate extended until the end of 2011, although there is no deadline for a legally binding outcome by this date (despite calls from some countries).
  • Despite the hassle caused by Japan, Russia and Canada around the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, it’s not dead just yet. It seems as though we will agree to continue to discuss the issue into the future, with an aim to have NO overlap period between commitment period 1 and 2. If we can do that, we will be taking significant steps towards a FAB deal.

So what we’ve got here, is some very, very significant steps towards a solid climate deal. We don’t yet have the deal though. We’re still missing the absolutely essential commitment… We still haven’t talked about emissions reductions, and the much anticipated slash in reductions is almost entirely absent from the text. But never fear! This is a very deliberate step… Here in Cancun, we’re looking to build the foundations for a stable negotiation process which we can work on in Durban (COP17). What we have here is $100 Billion on the table, a temperature target, technology mechanisms, adaptation submissions and payments to protect the world’s tropical forests… We’ve come a long way since Copenhagen in 2009.

We’ll keep you updated as developments move forward. It’s an amazing process, and we’re excited to be part of it!

For a safer climate future,

Nick and the COP16 team.

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