Wednesday, December 1, 2010

COP16: Building the Foundation

While attending events at the Moon Palace, I had several chances to hear the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres. Although she talked to very different audiences throughout the day (ranging from the Associated Press to a large group of non-governmental observers and party members), Ms. Figueres had a few main points regarding the climate negotiations taking place. The first of these is that COP15 in Copenhagen was not a failure. Many say that COP15 was a “failure” due to the fact that nothing major came out of the meeting that was hoped to result in an agreement. Secretariat Figueres believes that Copenhagen was important as it brought international attention to the issue of climate change. Although no major agreements came out of the conference in 2009, the media attention brought the issue to the public, who may have ignored the issue of climate change.

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres

The second major issue according to the Secretariat is the fact that a major, perfect agreement will not come out of COP16. No one can expect an agreement when three countries have decided that they will not agree to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. According to Ms. Figueres, we should not be aiming for an ultimate agreement this year, as “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. Secretariat Figueres also warned that we should aim for the "good" and not complain if Cancun indeed leads to an imperfect agreement. Cancun is merely building a foundation on which a fuller, better agreement can be built. If the world sees what comes out of COP16 in Cancun as a failure, we will get nowhere on our goal of reaching a better planet. Although we cannot save the planet overnight (or even the course of the COP meeting), we can hope that a plan to save our planet will be reached within the next few years.

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