Cancun Climate Change Conference Closes with Deal

The United Nation's climate change conference here in Cancun came to an end at around 4 a.m. this morning. It would be cynical to call it a bribe, but the Cancun agreements were largely reached because the rich countries continued their vague promises to hand over $100 billion in climate aid annually to poor countries beginning in 2020.

Basically the deal on emissions is that countries will agree to agree on cuts at the next climate change conference in Durban. Big developing country emitters like China and India still refused to agree to any legally binding limits on their emissions. Of course, neither did the developed countries.

Essentially, the conference of the parties (COP) adopted the elements of the deal I outlined in my previous post, Further Cancun Update. One item that I didn't note is that the COP accepted the notion that industrialized countries should strive to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 in order to remain on a path that would keep the Earth from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The spinning has begun. The AP reports the Union of Concerned Scientists representative Alden Meyer as saying that it "wasn't enough to save the climate, but it did restore the credibility of the United Nations as a forum where progress can be made." Chief U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern declared, "What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward." And Greenpeace's Windel Trio said that the deal "goes beyond what we expected when we came here."

I repeat the highlights of the Cancun Agreements below:

(1) As far as I can tell, the COP has indeed kicked the Cancun down the road by agreeing that they "shall aim to complete" further commitments by rich countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions "as early as possible." They do include the saving phrase "and in time to ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment period." Translation: Additional cuts should be agreed to before 2012. The telling words are "shall aim to complete." No real promises here.

(2) The shared vision says that the parties set the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions "so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels...." The parties will think about trying to hold average temperature increase to 1.5 later after further scientific review in 2015.

(3) The shared vision drops the earlier text that would have required that the world cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and that developed countries cut their emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050. Instead, the parties will "work towards identifying a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050" and consider it at the next meeting in Durban.

(4) The shared vision also drops the proposal that global greenhouse gases should peak by 2015.

(5) The text also sets up a process for creating a system for accounting and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries. As far as I can tell from reading the rather opaque text, the U.S. has not been roped into a process that leads to legally binding emissions reduction commitments.

(6) China, India and other emerging countries also have not been roped into legally binding commitments, but if they take mitigation actions that are supported by outside money, those activities will be subject to some kind of international auditing. On the other, the world will have take their words for their domestically funded activities.

(7) The text also says that the parties decide to establish a Green Climate Fund under the authority of the Conference of the Parties with a board of directors consisting of 24 members, half of whom will be from rich countries and half from poor countries. The devloped country parties commit to "mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries."

More analysis next week.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Old Mexican||

    Cuncan Climate Change Conference Closes with Deal

    It's "Cancun."

  • ||

    OM: Yikes. Typo fixed. Thanks. Now it's off to the jacuzzi with me - the beach here is too damned chilly.

  • ||

    I think that sentence just summed up every climate conference ever.

  • Binky||

    "What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward."

    What does that even mean?

  • PIRS||

    It means that nothing was actually acomplished (thankfully in this case.)

  • ||

    It means even if they throw it out completely at some future date, a rough draft is always part of the process.

  • ||

    It means that they agreed to exactly the same things that Bush proposed and did on climate policy, except that this is Their Team agreeing to it, so they're putting on a happy face, whereas they would have criticized whatever Bush did because he's on the Other Team. (As seen by thereaction to Bush's particulate regulations, low-sulfur diesel regulations, and increase in MPG requirements.)

  • The Ghost of Duke Ellington||

    It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!

  • Billy Shakespeare's Lawyer||

    "What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward."

    What does that even mean?

    What it means is that, generally speaking, and without getting overly specific, most of the attendees, that is to say, over half, committed their respective governments, to the extent that such power to commit had been extended to each conferee or attendee in the document or documents of conveyance providing for designated authority of agency pursuant to the mission of the conference, to a positive statement of assertion, setting forth the basic idea that agreeing to agree to a possible agreement, or potential agreement, either now or in the future, or possibly in the past, but without limiting the scope of action or nonaction of said government with respect to ... what was the question again?

  • Wind Rider||

    Nice. Millions of dollars flushed for a juicy, delicious nothingburger. Which is a good thing, all things considered. Still they're all going to jet off to Durban, rinse, and repeat. Hopefully, by that time, the scam will be even more thoroughly discredited, and even less will be 'accomplished'. Can we hope that the desperation level will rise to the level of drum circles and huge puppet heads? One can only hope.

  • PIRS||

    Wind, thats OK, we can afford it. After all, it isn't like we have a huge national debt or anything.

  • Wind Rider||

    Yeah, what was I thinkin. Thanks for that. Visa or Mastercard? Better yet, let's use Discover, and get Cash Back! WooHoooooo!

  • .||

    Save the planet, and get cash back? That's a win/win!

  • ||

    That's like, totally crazy multipliers right there with the cash-back. Like nine, ten, fifty!?

  • Viking horde||

    Let's go for Capital One and get DOUBLE MILES every time we use our card!

    We can use the miles for our trip to Durban...

  • PIRS||

    Is Max going to post us a comment wishing us a good morning and providing us with his usual cheer and good nature?

  • C'mon man||

    The real question, PIRS, is will you stay committed to your ideology if it means mass extinction? Checkmate!

    What happened to that Ra-tard?

  • PIRS||

    Good question. Perhaps he is trying to think up a new handle.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    The shared vision says that the parties set the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions "so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels...." The parties will think about trying to hold average temperature increase to 1.5 later after further scientific review in 2015.

    New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming

  • ||

    Anytime that I read an article like that, I immediately pretend that it is "propaganda from a right wing noise box." I want the article to be true, but I really don't know who to believe anymore. If you agree with either side too much, you are accused of being brainwashed. I just don't want to get my hopes up.

  • The Rich Countries||

    the rich countries continued their vague promises to hand over $100 billion in climate aid annually to poor countries beginning in 2020.

    Oh, what the heck. Make it $200 billion annually beginning in 2015.

  • ||

    It'd be easy really. Just set the Federal Reserve Xerox to draft mode and up it 30,000 ppm in lieu of current 25,000 ppm.

  • x,y||

    Your problem, Bailey, is that you're not cynical enough. Pathetic.

  • pancakes||

    It's pathetic the way you libertards celebrate when nothing is accomplished. They spent lots of money and emitted tons of greenhouse gases to have this conference, and it was all for nothing. These are the worst pussy sackless malthusians I have ever seen. I mean, what the fuck!? This isn't how one should save the planet. Fuck it, I'll be in my biodome.

  • ||

    Instead of flying down to Cancun to heckle the attendees in person, we engage in energy efficient snark via telecommuting. A simple thank you from you would have been appreciated.

  • ||

    Is that a picture of the Island of Orlando, 50 years from now after ocean levels rise 70 ft (source Al Gore) because of the evils of capitalism (source Michael Moore)?

  • Dello||

    "It's pathetic the way you libertards celebrate when nothing is accomplished."

    This reminds me of a liberal who accussed me of wanting Obama to fail. I said that when the bus driver is headed for a cliff and standing on the gas, wouldn't YOU want him to fail?

    She didn't get it.

  • Obama||

    ...ditch...slurpees...blah, blah...racist!

  • .||

    Remember when the economy was great and every American was a millionaire or about to become one and the news media were all over these crucial climate summits and the only question was how much of our gold we should fork over to the backward places in the world, and what would be the best way to get it there (by jet or mule)? Good times.

  • Rich||

    It's pathetic the way you libertards celebrate when nothing is accomplished.

    "I put my faith in the people
    But the people let me down
    So I turned the other way
    And I carry on, anyhow
    That's why I'm telling you

    I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
    I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
    Another day of living,
    I just want to celebrate another day of life

    Had my hand on the dollar bill
    And the dollar bill blew away
    But the sun is shining down on me
    And it's here to stay
    That's why I'm telling you ..."

    Rare Earth.

  • sevo||

    Binky|12.11.10 @ 9:55AM|#
    "What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward."
    What does that even mean?"

    While not quite as good as "hope and change", that's a nearly perfect political statement.
    It's totally devoid of actual information content, but allows any reader to claim it means what the reader wishes it to mean.
    Hey, stuff like this got a total loser elected to the presidency!

  • BenDU99||

    "the rich countries continued their vague promises to hand over $100 billion in climate aid annually to poor countries beginning in 2020."

    Nope, no chance of graft or money disappearing there.

    Since global warming is such a grave threat to our existence shouldn't these people have done this meeting over teleconference instead of flying to Cancun from all over the world?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    What's the use of scamming everyone if you're just going to do your scamming over the phone?

  • ||

    I'm surprised the goal ". . . to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels...." is included. Even with immediate and massive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, there's almost no chance of holding temperatures below 2 degrees C. It's too late for that, and I really wonder what the delegates were thinking to propose it.

  • sevo||

    With all due respect, you're addressing the issue as a matter of science.
    I find it hard to believe that the meeting was much beyond political grand-standing, spiced with jargon.

  • ||

    "With all due respect, you're addressing the issue as a matter of science."

    It's what I do. Love me.

  • sevo||

    "It's what I do."
    Yeah, and they don't.

    "Love me."
    I hardly know you!

  • Old Timer||

    Come the next ice age, you city slickers is gonna be pining for them good ole days, when things was warm.

  • In Time Of War||

    Call me when the Vikings invade again. Until then, this planet is too damned cold.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Basically the deal on emissions is that countries will agree to agree on cuts at the next climate change conference in Durban.

    Of course the biggest scientific problem of our time, and the one of the most import or else we face the end of the world can wait until our next swank vacation to decide.

  • ||

    Let It Snow 

    Oh, the weather outside is frightful, 
    But our fraud is so delightful, 
    So off to Cancun we'll go, 
    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. 

    We have no plans for stopping, 
    And your cash we'll soon be copping; 
    The curly lights really blow, 
    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. 

    When we've given you a good fright, 
    About some drought or a storm; 
    And if we get our way you might, 
    Not be able to keep yourself warm. 

    The fraud is slowly dying, 
    And, my dear, we're all still lying, 
    But as long as we're in Mexico. 
    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. 

  • Cytotoxic||

    America creaks under debt. Europe is being swallowed by contagion. So of course, another 100 billion dollars to 'solve' the 'problem' of global warming climate change.

  • Mike M.||

    Gore Effect hits Minneapolis: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome roof collapses early Sunday morning under 20 inch snowstorm!

  • Mad Max||

    Did you notice this part?

    'China, India and other emerging countries also have not been roped into legally binding commitments, but if they take mitigation actions that are supported by outside money, those activities will be subject to some kind of international auditing.'

    There's a certain amount of propaganda by eugenic-minded people in the rich countries that the way for the poor countries to lower their carbon footprint is to lower their populations. This means some form of "family planning" - strictly voluntary of course - after all, didn't the U.S. State Department solemnly inform us that the U.N. only cooperated with the *voluntary* aspects of China's population policy?

    (Prompting the Chinese government to ask, "wait, there's a voluntary component to our population policy? How did that get in there?")

  • ||

    They should hold the next conference in Detroit.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement