Political Will Needed to Travel Last Mile

Posted on 10 December 2010 by admin

Hammer in Vía Campesina march. Credit: Renee Leahy/IPS

By Nastasya Tay

CANCÚN, Dec 10, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) – Countries must redouble their efforts, to “travel the last mile to a successful outcome,” says U.N. climate chief Christina Figueres.

“More needs to be done,” Figueres told the press on the penultimate day of climate negotiations in Cancún.

Earlier in the week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned against high expectations.

“Don’t expect an all-encompassing global agreement in Cancún,” he said following the opening of the High Level Session of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There are possibilities for progress to be made, but the negotiations around a climate deal remain “not a sprint but a marathon”.

Ban affirmed the need for progress on all fronts, but highlighted specific areas where he feels important decisions could be made/agreement could be reached.

The Secretary-General also listed mitigation, transparency and accountability, as well as the future of the Kyoto Protocol as additional focus areas.

As the Friday close of negotiations approached, the future of Kyoto remained uncertain. Canada, Japan and Russia were reported to be resisting pressure to accept an extension of the Protocol; many parties see the Kyoto Protocol, which placed a legal requirement on developed countries to cut emissions to five percent below 1990 levels by 2012, as symbolic of a fair and binding agreement.

The argument for extending the Kyoto Protocol is that developed countries should continue to assume a share of responsibilities in line with their historical contributions to global warming. But the group resisting an extension say there’s little point in extending an agreement that does not include the world’s two largest polluters: the United States – which never signed on to Kyoto – and China, who between them produce around 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Civil society groups have called for greater political will and creativity on the part of ministers and negotiators in the talks.

The establishment of a global climate fund, with balanced and accountable governance, as well as frameworks for technology transfer and adaptation support would constitute success in Cancún, David Turnbull, the Climate Action Network’s Executive Director, told TerraViva.

However, emissions reductions must also be addressed, Turnbull asserted. “We want see the pledges on the table confirmed and anchored into the negotiations, but we also want to see countries recognise that they are simply not enough, and that we need to see greater ambition to close the gap between what’s currently on the table and what the science is calling for.”

UNFCCC negotiations are due to conclude Dec. 10.

Financing adaptation

Pledges made by countries since the Copenhagen conference are approaching the $30 billion committed for the 2010-2012 period, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. But the discussion on long-term financing must be advanced further, especially with regards to the additional $100 billion promised annually from 2020 by developed countries.

However, during the High Level Session of the Cancún Conference of Parties, the prime ministers of Kenya and Ethiopia questioned the disbursement of the $30 billion fast-start climate financing pledged in Copenhagen, with Kenya’s Raila Odinga stating that less than 20 percent of the money has appeared.

Odinga bemoaned the air of resignation and despair permeating the meeting, and urged all countries to share the blame, without playing the victim.

He described the protection of forests, support for climate adaptation, arrangements for technology transfer and some elements of finance as areas where measures are “ripe for adoption”.


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