Miquel Muñoz

Climate change negotiations are set to resume in Bangkok in early April. Three weeks ago, we published links to a broad range of analyses of the Cancun Climate Summit. We asked readers to suggest resources that we may have missed, and we have now updated the original post by adding the following resources below. We hope you find them useful, and we look forward to further discussion during and after the Bangkok meetings. (See the recent video interview with Nicholas Stern and the talks by Martin Weitzman and Lord Stern on “Toward a New Economics of Climate Change,” and see further extensive coverage on this blog.)

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Miquel Muñoz

It has been twelve weeks since the conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún. There were mixed feelings on the Cancún outcome. While many felt that, in substantive terms, not much was achieved, the agreement was also perceived as process-saving, especially when compared with the Copenhagen debacle a year earlier, and thus the closing session in Cancún met with thunderous applause.

Official climate change negotiations will resume in Bangkok, Thailand in early April. There, work will continue for the working groups on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA 14) and on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16). The agenda includes, among others, issues such as a global goal for emission reductions and global peaking, adaptation, MRV for developed and developing countries, the registry, forests financing, technology, capacity building and market/non-market mechanisms. The Bangkok meeting will be the first in preparation for the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17), to take place in Durban, South Africa, November 28 –December 9, 2011. As such, no particular outcome is expected, other than progress towards an eventual deal in Durban (or beyond).

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Triple Crisis blogger Martin Khor originally published this commentary on the shallow successes and deeper failures of December’s Cancún climate change conference in Economic and Political Weekly.

Complex Implications of the Cancún Climate Conference

When the dust settles after the Cancun climate change conference of the United Nations, a careful analysis will find that the adoption of the “Cancun Agreements” may have given the multilateral climate system a shot in the arm, but that the meeting also failed to save the planet from climate change and helped pass the burden of climate mitigation onto developing countries. Instead of being strengthened, the international climate regime was weakened by the now serious threat to close the legally binding and top-down Kyoto Protocol system and to replace it with a voluntary pledge system.

Read the full article at Economic and Political Weekly.

Ahmed Abdel Latif, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

The agreement to establish a new Climate Technology Mechanism is one of the concrete outcomes of the Cancun climate change conference which has gone relatively unnoticed, in contrast to other important decisions such as the creation of a Green Climate Fund and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

The main goal of the Mechanism is to accelerate the development and transfer of climate friendly technologies, in particular to developing countries, to support action on climate mitigation and adaptation. It is premised on the wide recognition that the large scale diffusion of these technologies is pivotal to global efforts to reduce green house gas emissions.

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Frank Ackerman

Triple Crisis blogger Frank Ackerman published the a short post-mortem on the climate negotiations on Grist:

What should we learn from the dual disappointment of Copenhagen and Cancun? The climate policy war isn’t over, but those who are fighting to cut global emissions haven’t won the last few rounds. The decisive defeat in this latest battle, however, did not occur at an international conference. Rather, it took place in Washington, D.C. …

…read the rest of the post on Grist

Tom Athanasiou, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

Cancun was not a surprise.   Nor was it a failure.  This much is easy to say.

But was it a success?  This is a more difficult question.  I used to have an irritating friend.  Every time you made a strong, implausibly simple claim – something like “Cancun was a success” – he would reply “Compared to what?”  It was a pedantic device, but it worked well enough.  It made you think, which, I suppose, is why it was irritating.

Compared to what the science demands, Cancun was obviously a failure.  The Climate Tracker crew made that clear in an evaluation filed before most people even got home – if the pledges in the Cancun Agreements are delivered upon, but only just barely, the result would be at least 3.2C of warming, and possibly far more – the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere would be about 650 ppm in 2100.

Why then wasn’t Cancun a failure?  Because, just maybe, it will put us onto a better road.

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Kelly Sims Gallagher, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit. This piece was previously posted by the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP).

What to make of the new Cancun Agreements?  Those lauding the agreement seem to be relieved there was any agreement at all. UN Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres declared, “Faith in the multilateral climate process has been restored.” But, the agreement itself does little except make more concrete many of the provisions already agreed to in last year’s Copenhagen Accord by enshrining these agreements in a formal decision of the Conference of Parties.  In fact, the multilateral process seems hardly improved, and most of the difficult decisions were deferred to the future.

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Martin Khor
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit. This piece was previously posted by Third World Network.

The United Nations’ Cancun climate conference which adopted a text early on Dec 11 had a strange outcome.

It was acclaimed by many for reviving the spirit of multilateralism in the climate change system, because another collapse after the disastrous failure of the Copenhagen talks a year ago would have knocked another hole into the reputation in the UN Climate Convention.

Most delegations congratulated one another for agreeing to a document in Cancun. But this Cancun text has also been accused of falling far short, or even going backwards, in controlling the Greenhouse Gas emissions that cause climate change.

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Elizabeth A. Stanton, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit. The following is based on a recent E3 Network paper, “Why Do U.S. States Emissions Vary So Widely?” by Elizabeth A. Stanton, Frank Ackerman, and Kristen A. Sheeran.

Much of the U.S. resistance to ambitious global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions reflects a fear common amongst Americans that high emissions are necessary to maintain high standards of living. While the examples of Belgium, Demark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom – countries where emissions per capita are roughly one-half of the U.S. average – demonstrate that lower per capita emissions are consistent with high living standards, many Americans remain unconvinced that the same standard of living can be produced with varying emissions levels. This is true despite the fact that some of the best evidence for this can be found within the U.S.: individual states vary only modestly in average incomes, but have widely differing per capita emissions.

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Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, a result was trumpeted in the great hall of the Moon (the official venue of UNFCCC COP16 talks in Cancún, Mexico), as crowds congratulated President Calderon, themselves, and one another. The outcome surpassed widely held low expectations, which were masterfully weather-beaten throughout the year by the frank Yvo de Boer and other opinion-makers à la suite. The tortuous consensus (minus Bolivia’s erratic stand), speaks of a blueprint for the long-term, and a continuation of sorts of the Kyoto Protocol.

From a quick reading of the advanced unedited versions of the main documents just agreed upon, and paraphrasing on-site reports by Ana Kleymeyer, other ICTSD colleagues, and Charlotte Streak of Climate Focus, Cancún sets 1.5 degrees as a global goal, and provides measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) for mitigation actions by all countries, including developing ones, with China’s agreement. It also agrees to a timeframe for a global and differentiated “peak” for emissions by 2011’s COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.

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