Creating practical and economically sustainable solutions to meet climate-change objectives was a major theme of two conferences held in late November and December in Cancún, Mexico. The first, the United Nations Climate Change Conference held Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, 2010, was the 16th conference of the 194 parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the sixth meeting of the 192 parties to the Kyoto Protocol . Coincident to the UN conferences was the first-ever World Climate Summit, which is an open and collaborative global 10-year framework designed to help businesses, investors, and governments accelerate solutions to climate change.
United Nations Climate Change Conference
Approximately 15,000 participants, including government delegates from the 194 parties to the UNFCC and representatives from business and industry attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference. At the conference, the 194 parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Cancun Agreements , a set of decisions to direct governments more firmly on the path to a low-emissions future and enhanced action on climate change in the developing world. “Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed toward a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourage countries to be more ambitious over time,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres, in a Dec. 11, UN press release.
Key elements of the Cancun Agreements are:
Industrialized-country targets are officially recognized under the multilateral process. These countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies and assess how best to meet them, including through market mechanisms, and to report their inventories annually.
Developing countries’ actions to reduce emissions are officially recognized under the multilateral process. A registry is to be established to record and match developing-country mitigation actions to finance and technology support from industrialized countries. Developing countries are to publish progress reports every two years.
Parties meeting under the Kyoto Protocol agreed to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty.
The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms were strengthened to drive more major investments and technology into environmentally sound and sustainable emission-reduction projects in the developing world.
Parties launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures.
A total of $30 billion in fast-start finance from industrialized countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise $100 billion in long-term funds by 2020 was included in the decisions. The first fast-start finance reports to the UNFCCC secretariat are due in May 2011.
In the field of climate finance, a process to design a Green Climate Fund under the Conference of the Parties, with a 24-member board with equal representation from developed and developing countries, was established.
A new Cancún Adaptation Framework was established to allow better planning and implementation of adaptation projects in developing countries through increased financial and technical support, including a clear process for continuing work on loss and damage.
Governments agreed to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support.
Parties established a technology mechanism with a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Center and Network to increase technology cooperation to support action on adaptation and mitigation.
If all the targets and actions of the agreement are fully implemented, UN estimates show they could deliver 60% of the emission reduction needed to stay below a recognized standard of a two-degree in average temperatures, although staying below this temperature rise does not guarantee survival of the most vulnerable people, according to a Dec. 20, 2010 UN press release. “All countries, but particularly industrialized nations, need to deepen their emission-reduction efforts and to do so quickly, said Figueres in the Dec. 20 release. Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries announced pledges totaling $28 billion.
The next meeting of the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC is scheduled to take place Nov. 28 through Dec. 9, 2011, in South Africa.
World Climate Summit
A key part of countries in achieving climate-change goals is to develop the financing and technology needed to meet these objectives. As part of that effort, the World Climate Summit was held Dec. 4–5, 2010, in Cancún. The global platform was deigned to assist governments, companies, and investors build bottom-up solutions to meet 2020 climate-change targets. Founding partners of the World Climate Summit included: TIME , CNN International, Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Europe, Dow Jones, The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, The Climate Group, UN Global Compact, Bright Green, United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Club of Beijing, Local Governments for Sustainability, Sir Richard Bransons Carbon War Room, and the support of the Mexican Government Trade and Investment Promotion Agency ProMexico. More than 800 delegates and 140 business leaders attended the summit. The following initiatives were announced at the conference:
The launch of the Gigaton Awards, which recognized the efforts of six companies reducing carbon emissions: Reckitt Beckinser, Nike, 3M, Vodafone, GDF Suez, and Suzlon.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (an independent US agency) will provide at least $300 million in financing for new private-equity investment funds that could ultimately invest more than $1 billion in renewable resources projects in emerging markets, thereby representing one of the largest initiatives by the US government to support the international effort to mitigate climate change.
The Carbon War Room (a nonprofit organization for climate change founded by Richard Branson, CEO and chairman of the Virgin Group) announced the first-ever universal energy index for the shipping industry
Avoided Deforestation Partners (a nonprofit network for thought leadership and action on deforestation) announced a fully approved Voluntary Carbon Standard methodology for avoided deforestation that will enable immediate flow of capital to projects that reduce deforestation rates
GreenTEK venture announced a $150-million Mexico Fund dedicated to climate change mitigation
The Prince of Wales Leadership Group on Climate Change, which brings togethers business leaders from the United Kingdom and European Union, reported that 350 companies signed the Cancun Communique, a platform for businesses to work together for climate change
The World Climate Initiative was launched and led by Casas GEO, a voluntary code of conduct for reductions of greenhouse-as emissions, integration of sustainability into core strategy, and leadership to drive change for global companies
SwissInso launched KRYSTALL, a new solar-powered autonomous system that can bring clean water supply to remote regions of the world
Philips launched their “Livable Cities” programs with local governments to provide energy efficiency and lighting in all cities around the world.
The World Climate Summit also announced its 2011 program, a set of high-level roundtables and summits in Brussels; Xian and Beijing, China; and New York and Washington. The next World Climate Summit will be held in Durban, South Africa Dec. 3–4, 2011.