COP16 — Hope for the holidays

Something truly magical is happening in Cancun.  Patricia Espinosa got a standing ovation when she returned after giving people a couple of hours to peruse the text.

Patricia and I had gone back to the hotel, eaten and packed.  In a couple of hours, we’ll leave the Moon Palace and start making our long way home.  But, fingers crossed, the remaining hours here will be a denouement.  Every country but Bolivia expressed not only support for the text presented, but also profound gratitude to the Mexican leadership for their hard work, transparency, openness and commitment that has led to a renewed faith in multilateralism.  The text presented is something all can live with, which is a miracle in itself.

The even bigger miracle is that the text is actually pretty good.  It acknowledges the necessity to strengthen ambitions to reach the necessary targets, it leaves open a potential for a 1.5 degree target, it stipulates an imminent peak in global emissions and a commitment to avoiding a gap between the first commitment period of Kyoto and a subsequent agreement.  It has bridged the deadlock between those who insist on a second Kyoto period and those who refuse it by simply insisting on the need to inscribe targets one way or the other.

There’s a sense of awe, wonder and exhaustion in the air.  There’s a lot of work ahead to bring all this together.  But if humanity can agree on this much here, it give me profound hope.

[Adriana is blogging from the UN climate change negotiations in Cancun, in an attempt to keep the Canadian delegation honest.]

3 responses to “COP16 — Hope for the holidays”

  1. David Wilson writes:

    so – if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, is that it?

    is “it give me profound hope” a typo or a rhetorical device? works either way but in my mind it brings on Manuel, the Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers …

    be well.

  2. David Wilson writes:

    what about this then?

    [Why Bolivia stood alone in opposing the CancĂșn climate agreement]

  3. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    I read Pablo Solon’s comments. He is trying to justify himself, which is understandable. He also appears to believe his own rhetoric. Given how much effort was expended by the intransigents of the developed world (Canada, Japan, the US, etc) in ensuring that a new agreement would guarantee measured, reported and verifiable emissions reductions, his claim that this accord will result in only aspirational targets is difficult for me to accept. Sure, a lot of the rhetoric was directed at making sure developing countries had to meet targets as well, but we can assume that developed countries would be bound by the same rules.

    I have never heard the IPCC suggest that emissions need to peak by 2015 to stabilize at 1.5 degrees. In fact one of the problems identified in the UNEP Emissions Gap report is that no comprehensive assessment of plausible emissions trajectories to 1.5 degrees have ever been done. The UNEP report proposed several, all of which had a peaking year of 2020 at the latest, but (somewhat to my horror) they all required deep negative emissions later. Obviously, I’d prefer a 2015 peaking year. We all would. But the reality is that the deal in Cancun offers hope for a 1.5 degree limit in a way that no other deal in history has.

    It isn’t great. I know. But it is much, much better than what we all dreaded, and a very positive step forward.

    What Solon was saying in Cancun was insisting on a 1 degree limit without any sort of massive sequestration projects, a proposition which is mathematically impossible now, as well as writing in the elimination of capitalism into the accord and the rights of Mother Earth – ideas that are vague, unenforceable, could not possibly achieve consensus and go wildly beyond the mandate of the UNFCCC.

    Keep in mind that the most vulnerable nations on the front line said that while two degrees is completely unacceptable, the absence of a deal which limits emissions in any way is far more completely unacceptable. All of them were gratified that this deal not only firmly limited emissions under 2 degrees with language that identified the need to meet the emissions gap and ensure the line was not crossed, but also left open the possibility that we would reach for 1.5 degrees as the science firmed up in upcoming years.

    I find the line about “delaying decisions until next year” bizarre beyond belief. What country did most to delay decisions? What country continues to stand in the way of cementing this deal and leaning on countries to do what they will need to in order to limit warming to 2 degrees and leave options open for more aggressive targets? For once it isn’t Canada, but weirdly, Bolivia. If this deal were to fall through because of Bolivia’s shenanigans, we would find ourselves next year even further behind. I don’t see how Solon can, in good conscience, write that line about delaying a year.

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