The successes of Cancun are now widely reported and praised in the media: the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, positive text on REDD+, and the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period extended a lifeline until Durban next year. The parties agreed in spite of Bolivia’s objections that the texts did not do enough to counter climate change’s dangers.
The COP 16 in Cancun talks were a reversal of those at COP 15 in Copenhagen last year. Low expectations yielded surprising success here, whereas in Copenhagen high hopes were dashed. A tremendous amount of credit must be accorded the Mexican government. The facilities were well laid out and polished, access was not impeded, the shuttles ran on time, certainly Mexico’s efficient hosting and administering permeated every aspect of the working environment. As well, Pres. Calderón was deeply involved and troubleshooting intensely throughout.
I’ll post more about aspects of the experience later, for now I’m inserting pictures that I was able to capture of some of the memorable sights.
A group of young people count in whispers to the number of climate-change related deaths while individuals among them punctuate the chant with accounts of particular tragedies like flood and mudslide deaths
A protester jeers Japanese PM Naoto Kan's opposition to extending the Kyoto Protocol
Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala de Calderón is center at this empowerment of women climate change side event that said in fact the Convention was empowering women
Chichen Itza, Not Far from Site of COP 16
The solution to the climate change problem can be reached incrementally, I say. The climate change solution is a structure at the summit of a Mayan pyramid that can be ascended from different sides, a step or a few at a time, on each side. REDD-plus is one such expanse of steps: counter-deforestation, reforestation, agriforesty, improving the lives of native peoples around and in forest carbon sinks. Technology transfer is another stair. Imagine what would have been the greenhouse gas reduction accrued since the time of Edison and Tesla if an advanced society had provided the now-developed countries detailed plans for solar panels and wind turbines, and startup grants thereto. Or if Henry Ford had been handed the plans and necessary technical assistance to manufacture Toyota Priuses. The Green Climate Fund (8,10) outlined in the Copenhagen Accord last year is another set of surmountable stone steps pointing to the pyramid’s pinnacle. The CGCF calls for $100 billion climate aid annually by 2020, for adaptation to the least-developed countries, and mitigation all around the developing world. It calls for substantial aid in the meantime too, $30 billion annually through 2012. These are increments that can be accomplished to a very meaningful extent at COP 16. I’ve given three examples, a Mayan pyramid has four sides, but there are many sides of the climate change solution that can be incrementalized and ascended in Cancun, a step or few or several at a time.