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Progress possible at climate talks in Cancun?

By Juliet Eilperin

The upcoming climate talks in Cancun can still produce a handful of meaningful agreements even if they don't create a legally-binding treaty on global warming, Mexico's top climate official told reporters Thursday.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, Mexico's special representative for climate change, said his country had focused on "rebuilding trust" between developing countries and industrialized ones over the past nine months, and hoped the United Nations negotiations starting in late November would translate into greater transparency in countries' climate policies and firm commitments on money to help nations adapt to and combat global warming.

"We can go further and do much better, but the worst [thing] is not to start," de Alba said.

The Dutch government, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and other organizations recently launched a website aimed at tracking nations' financial commitments to the developing world when it comes to climate change, which can be found at

De Alba, speaking at a session hosted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said several of the countries that refused to sign off the Copenhagen Accord--the political pact forged at last year's U.N. climate talks--are now willing to reengage if organizers listen to their concerns about a more ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and measures to protect indigenous peoples' rights.

While de Alba lamented the fact that the U.S. will enter this year's negotiations without having adopted a binding climate bill, he said that should not keep it from fulfilling its pledge to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels.

"It's certainly unfortunate that the administration will not participate in Cancun with new legislation to back and to support [its commitment]; to me it is most important to trust and to encourage the administration to act as much as they can to obtain the level of commitment of the 17 percent without legislation," he said.

In the run-up to this year's negotiations, several experts have warned that a binding legal treaty may be more than a year away. Elliot Diringer, vice president for international strategies at the Pew climate change center, said negotiators should focus on "building out the infrastructure" of the bare-bones agreement reached under the Copenhagen Accord.

"A set of decisions in Cancun that would begin to fill out the infrastructure would, in fact, be a significant success," Diringer said, adding that while some people hope the 2011 U.N.F.C.C. meeting in South Africa will produce a binding climate treaty, "we think it will take longer than that."


Anne Bartlett

 |  September 16, 2010; 12:33 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I couldn't agre more with Ambassador de Alba. Cancun needs to begin to implement key aspects of the international response to climate change, such as deforestation reductions, clean energy deployment, and support for adaptation. It also needs to ensure a continued focus on the actions that countries undertake and the support provided to developing countries. I discuss these in a recent post here:

Posted by: jschmidt3 | September 16, 2010 3:56 PM
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Climate scientists and climatologists are to science what M^%$m terrorists and alter boy abusing Catholic priests are to religion. Yes, scientists are fallible and they sleep with the politicians you fading climate changers cling to like Greenzis.
History will also view Climate Change as journalism’s Iraq War of lies and lazy copy and paste fear mongering and exaggeration.

Posted by: paulmerrifield | September 16, 2010 3:21 PM
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