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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Foreword | WWF International Defining Success in Cancún

Defining Success in Cancún

WWF International

WWF Climate rescue team come to the aid of an ill planet Earth as part of a WWF awareness stunt inside COP15. © WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse
WWF Climate rescue team come to the aid of an ill planet Earth as part of
a WWF awareness stunt inside COP15. © WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse

The failure to mobilise a global response to climate change is starting to put Earth’s systems under more stress than they can bear – environmentally and economically. The natural catastrophes in July and August this year were an unsettling illustration of the disruptions that will become more frequent as the planet heats up, and the catastrophic economic and human costs they will bring.

Copenhagen did not deliver the global deal that is needed, but the urgency of forging such a deal has not diminished – a just and effective response to climate change needs a global agreement that ensures ambitious action to prevent dangerous climate change and that protects the victims, especially the weak and vulnerable.

The Copenhagen Accord is certainly not such a deal. But as a list of promises that countries have made, it can and will be used as a yardstick to test how serious they are, especially the industrialised countries that have made specific commitments to provide the increased financial support that will be essential to success.

When the parties reconvene in Cancún, it is essential they find a way to agree on key building blocks of a global deal, and thereby begin to build the trust and confidence that will make a comprehensive deal possible.

First and foremost, they must come to agreement on finance, which is crucial to progress on other issues. In the Copenhagen Accord, industrialised countries promised US$30 billion in short-term finance for the period 2010 to 2012. In Cancún , this promise must be translated into concrete reality – real commitments of funding that is ‘new and additional’ as the Accord demands.

Parties must also agree the architecture for longer-term finance under the UNFCCC to address the needs of developing countries, and a schedule for rapidly scaling up funding to the level promised by the Copenhagen Accord – $100 billion per year by 2020.

Parties should build on the forthcoming recommendations of the UN High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Finance (AGF) and agree on innovative sources of climate finance that can generate the public finance required, which can in turn leverage the much greater amounts of private investments needed.

Action from industrialised country governments on finance is the best way to start building the trust needed to make progress on the other parts of the UNFCCC agenda.

Adaptation, Technology, and Forests

Cancún must make a difference in three policy areas linked to the finance question: adaptation, technology, and forests. The adaptation chapter in the negotiations is written but most of the text is still bracketed or with options – Parties can and should remove the brackets, decide on options and have this part of the text agreed, to open the way for adopting an Adaptation Framework for implementation within the UNFCCC.

There is broad agreement on a mechanism for strengthening international technology cooperation, an area that emerging economies such as South Africa, México, India and China see as crucial for the overall negotiations. To be successful, Cancún will need to see at least some progress in this field.

A strong text on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) was proposed at Copenhagen and needs to be approved at Cancún without further dilution. The REDD+ partnership has shown the right kind of initiative by establishing mechanisms to coordinate the US$4.5 billion pledging to stem tropical forest loss.

Cancún COP16 successes are within reach; if they can be achieved they will provide the platform for negotiating a comprehensive and ambitious climate regime in South Africa a year later.

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organisations, with over five million supporters and a global network active in morethan 100 countries.

Its mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:

  • Conserving the world’s biological diversity;
  • Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable; and,
  • Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

WWF International logo
James P. Leape
Director General, WWF International

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