Saturday, 11 December 2010

Foundation for climate deal laid in Cancún

Governments at the UN climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, managed to approve a series of tangible if modest steps that sets up a "global climate fund" to help poor nations, create a mechanism to share clean technologies, protect tropical forests and help the poor adapt to impacts ranging from storms to rising sea levels, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The UN climate talks are off the life-support machine, following a last-minute agreement that gives the Kyoto Protocol a lifeline, says international agency Oxfam.

The deal’s Climate Fund will be designed by a committee with a strong voice for developing countries, which should ensure that life-saving finance will be delivered to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Climate Fund will be a major channel for adaptation finance, helping to plug the gap in adaptation funding, so that vulnerable communities have the resources they urgently need. Meanwhile, the emissions cuts pledged after Copenhagen have been set as a minimum, with an expectation to raise them according to the demands of climate science.

Oxfam International’s Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said: “Negotiators have resuscitated the UN talks and put them on a road to recovery. This deal shows the UN negotiations can deliver.” But many of the most difficult issues remain. According to Oxfam, we will not be able to offer a safe future for vulnerable women, men and children unless governments realize that we swim together or sink together. Our challenge is to elevate our vision and commit to the deep emissions cuts that are urgently needed.

“The progress in Cancún puts talks back on track and revives hopes that a wider, legally binding treaty that sets concrete and credible targets to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions is possible in the future,” also says Stewart Maginnis, IUCN’s Director of Environment and Development. "Under Mexico’s strong leadership and guidance, governments in Cancun have ensured that confidence in the UNFCCC process is being rebuilt, which brings us a step closer to that final deal.”

Adaptation, finance and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) were some of the key issues the 194-nation talks moved forward on. According to IUCN, today’s deal is a move in the right direction, but in the end, only an equitable, comprehensive and legally binding agreement will bring the much needed international commitment to manage the climate crisis.

The inclusion of REDD as part of the Cancún deal is a key step towards resolving the issue of climate change, says IUCN. Other NGOs have strongly opposed it. However, “reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time conserving forest natural resources on which millions of vulnerable people depend is a win-win solution for people and nature,” says Maginnis. “It has been one of the most promising developments in the negotiations so far, and now this further push by governments makes REDD an integral part of the climate deal.” IUCN welcomes the recognition of women within the deal struck on REDD. Women make up 70% of the world’s poor and provide up to 90% of the food in forest-dependent communities. They depend on forest resources for gathering fuelwood, forest fruits, vegetables and medicines.

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