Final accord reached at Cancun despite Bolivia's objection
2010/12/11

CANCUN, Mexico, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.N. climate change conference finally came up with a way forward in the fight against global warming early Saturday after an all-night session, overruling objections from Bolivia.

The agreement covers establishment of a new Green Climate Fund to help poor nations, measures to protect tropical forests and a mechanism for clean energy technology transfer to poorer nations. It also reaffirmed a commitment reached at last year's Copenhagen conference to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars a year to help developing countries fight global warming.

Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, said the conference was a success and the Kyoto Protocol had been reaffirmed.

Xie said the parties advanced with the guidance of the "Bali Road Map" and reached success at Cancun.

"The achievements of the conference are the result of the parties' efforts and the advantages of the multilateral mechanism, which can promote the negotiation progress. We have full confidence in the multilateral mechanism after the conference," he said.

The next climate conference will be held in Durban, South Africa, in 2011. According to Xie, the parties are confident about the South Africa conference. "We can step forward in South Africa, if we can continue to consolidate and carry on the spirit of unity and coordination formed at the Cancun conference," he said.

Although the results were positive, it could not be described as "perfect." Some details were left to solve in South Africa, Xie said.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, chair of the conference, said, "The texts on the table represent the work of many delegations that carry the hope of delivering what our societies expect."

"I take note of your opinion, but if there are no other objections, this text is approved," Espinosa told Pablo Solon, the Bolivian representative.

Bolivia rejected the two documents of the deal, saying they amounted to a blank check for developed nations because the commitments set were in documents which had not yet been published.

Solon also challenged the validity of the agreement, saying the rules stipulated it could not be passed when one state strongly objected. "We will get every international body necessary to make sure that the consensus is respected," he said.

"Consensus does not mean that one nation can choose to apply a veto on a process that other nations have been working on for years. I cannot ignore the opinion of another 193 states that are parties," Espinosa replied. Her response received a huge applause from the floor.

Another Bolivian official also complained that his nation had been denied basic rights by the conference.

"We had asked for a workshop to consider the topic of intellectual property in 2011," the official said, "Bolivia has been not even given the most basic opportunity."

The deal was approved at the plenary session after being considered first by an informal plenary session and then being passed to the two working groups under the Kyoto Protocol and longer commitment actions (LCAs), respectively.

At the start of Friday's session, host country Mexico published a draft of the deal that included detailed financing plans but no plans for binding emissions cuts.

Most nations, including some of those most vulnerable to climate change, expressed support for the draft documents, although there were several nations that expressed reservations about the final accord.

The two-week long talks in Cancun were aimed at setting new targets - and finding new ways - to combat climate change.

The measures in the draft documents were widely supported by participants in an informal session late Friday.

Most speakers said the deal was partial but still represented progress at the climate summit held in this resort city on Mexico's Caribbean coast.

"It is not perfect and it is not a done deal, but let us accept it and let's move forward," said Karl Hood, Grenada's minister for environment and foreign affairs.

Grenada's opinion is significant because it has the presidency of the 41-member Alliance of Small Island States, the nations most likely to suffer first from global warming.

Oceans are rising at twice the rate of the 20th century, researchers say, and Pacific islanders report they're already losing shoreline and settlements to encroaching seas.

"The parties have made good efforts in these negotiations," said Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of China's National Development and Reform Commission. "We have been satisfied because the negotiations have been guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibility."

Both the United States and the European Union spoke in favor of the agreement during the meeting.

"I think this text points the way forward," said Todd Stern, the U.S. representative in the climate talks, "Let us now do what it takes to get this deal done."

Connie Hedegaard, the Danish diplomat representing the 27-member EU, praised the nations for their commitment to reaching an agreement and also offered the bloc's conditional support.

Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh said, "The most important thing is that the multilateral process has received a shot in the arm, it had reached an historic low. It will fight another day. It could yet fail. I don't think that the structural problems of multilateralism have been addressed. India is very happy with this package."

Meanwhile, British energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said, "What this does is show that there is still a consensus internationally and a growing consensus from places that you would not have expected a year ago, from China, India, that actually we do have to go down this path to a low-carbon economy, and that it is the road to prosperity, to a sustainable economy."

Norwegian environment minister Erik Solheim said, "We restored the confidence in the U.N. It proved to the world that Cancun can deliver. In Copenhagen we gave up the idea of one big bang agreement. What we have achieved in Cancun is remarkable; we have constructed many floors in the future climate house."

Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Saturday praised the conference attendees for finally reaching a deal to fight global warming.

"Cancun has been a success for all because it has taken a big step in convincing the international community of the value of multilateralism," Calderon said.

Nongovernmental group Greenpeace also said in a statement that "some called the multilateral climate negotiation process dead, but governments have shown that they can cooperate and can move forward to achieve a global deal."

The Chinese delegation, in a statement, reaffirmed the Chinese government would take a highly responsible attitude toward the Chinese people and people in the world, and remain committed to promoting green, low-carbon and sustainable development as its contribution to combating climate change.

The delegation also hailed the efforts of the Mexican government and its people during the negotiations and their hospitality, and it appreciated the positive role of the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The president of the UNFCCC published a new draft document covering long-term commitment actions (LCA) on Friday, which includes detailed financing plans but no binding emission cut targets.

The document proposes a governing body for the fund with 40 national representatives, including seven each from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and two each from the groups of small island states and least developed nations. The document, which still needs the approval of ministers, also proposes a standing committee to design the fund and develop conventions on reporting.

The document, however, fails to set mandatory targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction.

The two-week long talks in Cancun to set new targets and find new ways to combat climate change attracted 25,000 government officials, businessmen and researchers from over 190 countries.

 

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