Two days to the Cancún Conference
Dear friends, this Monday, November 29th, there begins the 16th meeting of member states of the Convention for Climate Change, sponsored by the United Nations, which bearing the acronym COP16, and which meets in the Mexican city of Cancún. After the high expectations placed on the conference in Copenhagen in December last year, and its disappointing results,there is widespread doubt this year about the ability of Cancún to revive a set of international commitments around climate change – both in terms of mitigation and of adaptation.
What is reasonably expected of Cancún is that it should leave a way open to the 2011 conference in South Africa, so that there can be reached there a shared commitment that is just, sufficiently ambitious, and binding on all parties. That would mean acknowledging a shared responsibility, though with specific engagements that were differentiated as between developed and developing countries. The obstacles are by no means small, and clearly the current economic crisis will weigh heavily, and negatively on the negotiating states. Besides, there is no clarity about what kind of agreement should emerge from these conferences, both as regards the degree to which commitments are binding, and as to what precise elements will be subject to formal regulation. There is a general opinion in favour of the establishment of a fund to finance efforts to combat climate change, and studies are being carried out to design new types of funding mechanisms: but there is no agreement on who should manage such fund. It is not surprising that in many places, there is currently a degree of distrust of the international financial institutions.
One of the most controversial issues for this conference concerns the measurement, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions by developing countries. Measurement and verification procedures clearly bear on questions of national sovereignty: but they need still to be carried out, in order to ensure the credibility of all states who are members of the Convention.
The Ignatian Advocacy Network on Ecology intends to follow this Cancún conference, as we did last year in Copenhagen. Jesuits, collaborators and colleagues, and partner organisations from various parts of the world will help us to follow events, so as better to understand the content of the negotiations, and to reflect from a perspective of faith about a phenomenon of unique importance for our societies and the planet. Members of the Ignatian family present in Cancun will offer a close-range account of the negotiations.
Climate change is without doubt the most profound threat to our future: equally, though, it offers a great opportunity to promote societies that are more equitable and mutually accountable. Our blog will be active throughout the conference, and is open to your comments and suggestions.