COP 16/CMP 6 UN Climate Change Conference Cancun 2010

December 11, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

The two week conference from November 29 to December 10, 2010 on climate change strived to approach the global environmental challenge by adopting UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Kyoto treaty mandating the carbon emission reduction below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in addition to COP15 Copenhagen proposals such as –

Industrialized nations $100 billion pledge by 2020 towards financial assistance to the poorer nations in combating environment disasters.

The Green Climate Fund for technological aid and forest preservation appear to have been recognized leading to a consensus among the negotiators.

Although the fund sources and management details have not been presented as yet, the preliminary step to provide economic relief to poor and developing nations is a positive measure.

The debate arising from the once contentious issue is – expediting funding and setting the eligibility criteria due to the demand from many nations seeking financial help under ‘vulnerable’ category that could potentially deprive the precarious recipients from qualifying for adequate benefits.

Hence it is essential to arrive at a conclusion on the specific content and fund allocation to the qualifiers in desperate situation as part of the post-Cancun agreement.

Further there is an urgent requirement to accelerate the transformation from fossil dependency to green energy economy.

Unfortunately the political will necessary to enforce the change is controlled by corporate investments denying the people in the rich and developing nations an opportunity to a clean energy economy and lead the less affluent nations achieve similar status.

No climate meetings are meaningful without addressing the catastrophic incidents from mining to off shore and shallow water oil exploration.

Wars and relentless military operations continue to have devastating impact on the environment in the economically struggling regions of the world. The use of deadly weapons and incessant bombings in retaliation is attributed to extreme environmental damage.

Pakistan for instance experienced the worst floods recently amid explosions and ongoing drone attacks exacerbating the flood victims’ plight. These are fundamental reasons to hold international forum to discuss never ending conflicts resulting in widespread destruction and loss of life.

Environment cannot be safe and secure without ending violence claiming innocent lives through prolonged artillery attacks and use of explosives.

Peace and healthy environment are inter-linked in the evolutionary process.

The Cancun summit emphasis on the Kyoto treaty renewal in 2012 is vital to realize the environmental goals.

Japan and Russia’s objection in this regard is related to the major carbon emitters’ viz. China and United States non-commitment to the Kyoto accord ratification.

Kyoto agreement is currently reported to have 37 signatories representing 27% of the carbon emission in the atmosphere. Unless the remaining pollution contributors unconditionally endorse the Kyoto Protocol and exemplify through actions, the climate talks would not be entirely purposeful.

Other members’ efforts and determination could easily be offset by those in violation of the environmental standards with no accountability for their dominant role in the negative impact.

During Copenhagen negotiations, the economic powers elected voluntary emission control rather than a universal policy and at Cancun the checks and balances to that effect is hopefully enacted for fair verifications.

While it is encouraging to witness the powerful nations’ acknowledgment on the individual obligation only the demonstration would confirm the facts.

The mandatory reporting scheduled every year in June could be more effective when an independent international committee comprising scientists, environment activists, economists and ethicists appointed to review the progress or the lack thereof by each nation.

It could also possibly eliminate mistrust and political influence in the monitoring and assessment of the vital environment regulation.

Considering the grim forecast on the ozone depletion and ocean rising it is imperative to sustain greenhouse gas emission below 1.5 degrees Celsius against 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and incrementally drop to pre-industrial level at 280 parts per million from the present 390 ppm.

Community awareness and involvement in basic programs such as tree planting, recycling and green job creation with eco-friendly products and services in the market evolving into a national environment protection plan are crucial in the immediate and long run.

Industrial wise, the recommendation for greenhouse gas levy on aviation and maritime transportation would not only generate revenue but also contain carbon and other gas emission.

United States clean energy legislation is predicted to be a foregone conclusion given the Republican majority in the House following the mid-term elections.

The scenario is no different from last year with the reversal and the climate bill was still regarded a tall order that precipitated COP 15 failure.

Washington gridlock is predominantly sponsored by special interests with their investments in both political parties. The elected representatives bear responsibility for their decisions in national and international issues.

It is incumbent upon United States to establish a track record as the leader of innovative green economy and environment bastion in the twenty first century.

Political blockade in passing climate bill is endangering self and the future generation survival.

Scientific data and prevalent weather patterns with 2010 declared the hottest year in a long time proves the relevance to reconcile terms with reality.

Ignoring the ramifications on the island nations and other inhabitants could eventually hurt the origin in the human manufactured greenhouse gas causing global warming.

There are no winners for there will be no survivors in the profit motivated environment degradation. With the escalating temperatures and melting glaciers the alternatives are conservation and preservation of natural resources.

Nevertheless, it is a refreshing start to gain assurance from China, United States, India, Brazil, EU…in accepting Cancun climate deal despite selective terms and conditions applied to suit the domestic agenda.

Mexico deserves credit for the exceptional organization of the global event and successful mediation between international delegates in arriving at mutual concurrence on some key elements in the climate matter.

Congratulations! To Ambassador Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, President of the COP16, President of the United States of Mexico Felipe Calderon, the Honorable delegation from 194 nations, NGO’s and every participant at the sixteenth United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico for the solidarity and initiatives in reaching a preliminary agreement.

The transparency and inclusiveness reflected in the United Nations sixteenth conference is praiseworthy setting precedence for forthcoming summit in 2011 – Durban, South Africa.

Please Save the Planet – the only habitat for all.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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