The Cancún climate conference, aided by artfully maintained low expectations after Copenhagen, and first-class management by the Mexican hosts, is pleased with itself. The final package was approved unanimously minus Bolivia: Cuba, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia deserted the holdout camp at the last moment. But what did they actually agree to?
Here´s the press release and the full package of agreements. This paper seems to to be the key part. The final declaration (if there was one) isn´t yet up on the website. (Update: I think there isn’t one, deliberately so – reflecting Figueres’ pragmatic, incrementalist, no-big-bang approach.)
UN documents are so larded with PC gestures to gender equality, indigenous peoples, self-determination and the like, (Update: as well as esoteric insider references to earlier meetings and processes) that the uninitiated (including me: I worked for a European, not a UN organization) find it very hard to echo-locate the meat if any. My skim may well be wrong. However, the green NGOs like Greenpeace are pretty happy with the deal, cautioning that most of the real work has been kicked – yet again – down the road.
- The target of limiting global warming to 2°C limit was reaffirmed, and every country should act urgently towards it. This was already in the final Copenhagen ¨accord¨, but that wasn´t a true consensus, as in Cancún. Bolivia wanted 1.5°C, like the small-island nations; so we can say that a 2°C ceiling at most is strictly unanimous within the international community of states. GOP denialists really have no friends left in power abroad.
- To meet this, greenhouse gas emissions must peak fairly soon. (I think this recognition of the bleeding obvious is in fact new.)
- The Kyoto Protocol, expiring in 2012, should (they say) be updated and extended without a gap. As China, the USA, and India are not in the list of commitment countries, the badly distorted existing régime will continue, at best. (But notice how badly this is turning out for Germany on growth, exports and green technology?)
- The USA, with no leverage left, gave in to China on binding monitoring. (I think). Reporting on emissions will be national and I assume creative.
- Rich countries promised a $30bn green technology fund for LDCs, run ¨initially¨ by the World Bank. (A nice recovery by Zoellick from the appalling goldbug gaffe.) The Bank takeover was one of Bolivia´s objections.
- Latino women make good diplomats: credit to conference chair Patricia Espinosa (Mexico) and executive secretary Christiana Figueres (Costa Rica).
- Espinosa´s final decision to tell the grandstanding Bolivians to STFU is a precedent, and shifts the UN system away from strict consensus and one-country veto. If Bolivia can be overruled today, a bigger country can be overruled tomorrow. About time; strict consensus among 193 players is an impossible rule of governance for anything.
Corrections welcome in comments. I´ll update the post to remove the most egregious errors you point out.