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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As per UNFCCC Official material, at the Tianjin climate gathering governments saw that there is no agreement on actions, so they could come closer on defining what can be realistic targets for the Cancún UN Climate Change Conference .

Speaking on October 9th – the final day of the Tianjin UN Climate Change Conference (4-9 October) – UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that governments had made progress in defining what could be achieved at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún (29 November to 10 December) – just making it crystal clear that it is agreed not to seek major goals at Cancun.

One wonders thus why this need to go to Cancun at all? Would it not have been easier to redefine the meeting as a business representatives get-together in order to iron out the potential coooperations that could then smooth the way for Government-to-Governmwnt agreements?

“This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancún. Governments addressed what is doable in Cancún, and what may have to be left to later,” she said.

Ms. Figueres said that governments had discussed each element of a package of decisions, including a long-term shared vision, adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, key operational elements of climate finance and capacity building, along with the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Governments need to finalize these decisions in Cancún – but she did not produce the details – specially on the fate of Kyoto.

The action on climate change that could be agreed in Cancún and beyond was about turning “small climate keys to unlock very big doors” into a new level of climate action among rich and poor, business and consumers, governments and citizens, she said.

“If climate financing and technology transfer make it possible to give thousands of villages efficient solar cookers and lights, not only do a nation’s entire carbon emissions drop, but children grow healthier, women work easier and families can talk, read and write into the evening,”she said. “In the end, this is about real people being given the opportunity to take control of their future stability, security and sustainability,” she added.

Nevertheless, as illusions must persist somewhat, addressing the media together with Ms. Figueres on the final day of the
Tianjin meeting, Mexican Foreign Minister and President-designate of the Cancún UN Climate Change Conference Patricia Espinosa said that the Cancún meeting can and should be a significant step forward to benefit everybody, above all the most vulnerable and poor countries.

The Tianjin climate meeting was attended by around two and half thousand participants from more than 176 countries, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.

The conflict between the old wealthy countries that insist on deep and verifiable cuts in emissions from major developing countries like China and India,  the poorer nations are asking the rich countries to do more to reduce their own pollution and come up with more money to help the rest of the world adapt to the changes wrought by a century of unchecked carbon gases from the industrialized world – these are the same divisions as in the past dozen years.

Developing-country negotiators continually chide American officials for the failure of the United States to enact any sort of comprehensive climate and energy legislation and this as if there was no real change of attitude in Washington. Is one supposed to think that the US Copenhagen achievements were nullified in a year of indecisions?

Todd Stern, the chief American climate negotiator, acknowledged that some countries were trying to pull back from promises made in Copenhagen. He insisted that the Obama administration stood by its international commitment to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 despite the lack of action in Congress.

After the Copenhagen meeting, Mr. Stern and others raised questions about whether the United Nations was the forum for dealing with such issues. They have quietly explored options involving far fewer countries and tackling the difficult pieces of a climate deal separately rather than as one grand package. But no one is quite ready to pull the plug on the global talks — yet.

Many diplomats who have long been involved in the process talk about Cancún as a meeting needed for “healing” and “reassurance” to countries that had lost faith in the treaty process.

“It’s very important that you get back on the bicycle and get it moving and that it doesn’t fall over again,” said John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change. “We have to make progress on a few fronts without overreaching: we won’t be able to get over the finishing line at Cancún. The task there is to rebuild momentum and confidence,” he said.

In the light of the above, our own website will continue to post information about Cancun as a follow-up to our Copenhagen COP15 category, with the hope that serious discussions between the G2 States – China and the US – will restart after the US November elections, so that a motor involving also India, Brazil, and perhaps South Africa and Korea, could continue to meet and formulate cooperation that eventually could be presented to the full body of the UNFCCC..

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