Cancún is slowly sliding into the Caribbean Sea. A combination of climate change, natural weather patterns and disastrous tourist development along the narrow strip of Mexican coast is dragging the resort town back to the sea.
Cancún was therefore perhaps the most meaningful location for the UN climate change conference, which ended Dec. 10th 2010. As Cancún slowly continues to slide toward the abyss, so the conference slipped below the mainstream media’s radar and other coastal regions around the globe are left to drown.
Susann Scherbarth, Climate Campaigner from Friends of the Earth Europe reported from Cancún:
“The first words which come in my mind: Sun, heat, busses, hotels, beach, people, flexibility and balance. Cancún is the most touristic place I ever saw, hotels all along the beach with white sand and blue water. It is incredible and not the real Mexico. No sign of indigenous people here at the touristic island. And there the climate negotiations are happening. I immediately lost the feeling to the real world where climate change is happening, literally just next to me.
The negotiations are even happening in a huge hotel resort. The Mexican prepared everything quite well but also use many emissions to cool down all the rooms and provide the luxury people expect. One very funny thing are the buses. Participants need to take the bus for at least 30 minutes to get to the negotiation center. The first day it took me 3 hours, there was a huge chaos but the Mexicans did well. And even inside the negotiation area you have to take buses for 20 min because the distances between civil society area and government negotiation area is so distant. That makes a good participation of civil society even more difficult.
But more on the politics. Expectations are low. The aim is to get to an international agreement amongst parties. After the failure of Copenhagen last year the ambitions are much lower. But no binding agreement will be expected here in Cancún. We expect decisions on some of the hot topics: forest issues, finance and technology issues and legal issues. So Cancún is rather a milestone to South Africa where the next big international climate negotiations will happen - the COP17."
World leaders, on paper, committed themselves to limiting global warming to 2°C, considered a safe level of warming. But the pledges, made by countries over the past year under the Copenhagen Accord, that is now part of the Cancún agreement, won’t be enough. Going by the pledges, the temperature rise in this century may be somewhere between 3°C and 3.9°C. Small island states and countries most vulnerable to climate change impact argue even 2°C temperature is too high and that global warming should be limited to 1.5°C.
Civil society groups spoke out against what they said was a flawed United Nations process. As the talks wrapped up inside the conference rooms of Cancún’s luxurious Moon Palace resort, civil society groups protested the process - and found themselves increasingly iced out, as Democracy Now! Reported.
The only way negotiators could reach a “fairly modest agreement” that “does not require the broad changes that scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change” was by ignoring their own rules on decision making and overruling the objections of countries like Bolivia.
Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, said in a statement after the conference:
“The world needed strong and determined action to tackle climate change in Cancún - the outcome is a weak and ineffective agreement but at least it gives us a small and fragile lifeline. Friends of the Earth is pleased that a Global Climate Fund has been established to provide developing countries with the money they need to tackle climate change. But we're very concerned that the pledges of finance are very far off what's needed. We don't think that that the World Bank, as one of the largest lenders for fossil fuel projects in the world, should have been given a role as trustee of the Fund.”
As the Climate Policy Director of Greenpeace International, Wendel Trio, commented,
“Cancún may have saved the process but it did not yet save the climate.”
Energy Union project partners Friends of the Earth wrote in a statement:
“The UN negotiating process remains alive. Friends of the Earth will be working hard for an agreement in South Africa next year that's in line with the science, closes dangerous offsetting loopholes and is fair on developing countries who have done least to cause climate change.
Friends of the Earth is concerned that we now have very little time left to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The chance of a fairer, stronger binding deal at South Africa will be increased if the UK and EU increase their reductions targets and close the loopholes and if finance starts flowing in earnest to developing countries.”
In December 2011 the 17th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of the Parties (COP 17) will take place in the South African coastal city of Durban.
Check out the FoEE summary of Cancún outcomes: http://www.foeeurope.org/climate/download/Cancun_20_12_2010.pdf