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The Cancun Climate Summit: a Moderate Success

Keywords: Cop 16, Cancun, Climate policy, UNFCCC

Author(s): Ibon Galarraga, Mikel González-Eguino and Anil Markandya

Date: 2011-01-14

Issue: 2011-02

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The Cancun Summit started with the conviction that a binding agreement would not be possible and with significantly lower expectations than the previous summit in Copenhagen. If the outcome of the summit had to be defined, it could be claimed to be moderately satisfactory given the context in which it took place. The reader should be aware of the limited scope of the agreements and progress that can be achieved in this type of summits where the negotiating stakeholders (or countries) number over two hundred and the nature of the texts discussed is subject to tenacious qualification and discussion prior to their formal approval.

The agreement reached in Cancun – which verged on unanimous (with only Bolivia opposing it) –enables significant progress to be made in terms of measures to adapt, reduce deforestation and set up financial aid for developing countries. Furthermore, they leave the way open to a binding agreement to reduce emissions at the forthcoming Durban summit (South Africa) in 2011 to consolidate the Kyoto protocol. We believe that this can be qualified as a moderate success.

This document performs an initial assessment of the Cancun summit agreements (formally COP 16 and CMP 6) based on the drafts of the official documents of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the information obtained by the authors from part of the team being present at the summit as observers and the opinions of observers and international analysts.

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