Amy Higgins
On the third day of talks both tracks held plenary meetings in the Moon Palace complex. Many developed and developing countries have expressed the need for a legal outcome from both the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) and the Kyoto Protocol tracks. The future of dual-track system has come up in discussions more after Japan announced they did not want a second commitment period of Kyoto. Small-island states requested that a contact group be established to discuss the overlaps in the two-tracks and to explore how that could lead to a legally-binding outcome from COP 17, and this proposal passed without objection. Working groups met to discuss progress on adaptation, mitigation, finance & technology. In the Mitigation group, developing countries were interested in discussing financial support for nationally appropriate…

REDD+ Negotiating Text - Now Three Options

The LCA REDD negotiating text contains two options – Option 1 (from Tianjin) and Option 2 (from Copenhagen) .  Most groups thought that Option 2 would likely prevail at the negotiations in Cancun.  Thus, preparations were made to comment on and suggest text as it pertains to Option 2.  However, the Chair’s text (CRP.1) was introduced just prior to the opening of COP-16 in Cancun.  The consensus among most NGOs is that the Chair’s REDD text sets a good starting point, but most are refraining to officially comment until the delegations have indicated which option they wish to pursue.

The groups I am working with are still attempting to incorporate language that includes international demand side drivers and…

In a briefing to civil society organizations yesterday, COP 16 President Patricia Espinosa resoundingly praised the efforts of local governments and subnational authorities for their efforts to fight climate change. Cathy Oke, a representative of the Melbourne (Australia) government, posed the question to Espinosa of how the recently signed Mexico City Pact, and other examples of subnational commitments to address climate change, could be recognized in the negotiations as an effective strategy that should be supported in international dialogues. Espinosa emphatically responded that the Mexico City Pact is a very important contribution to the negotiations, as it signals the readiness of local authorities to act, significant in that any future UNFCCC agreement would be largely implemented through local and subnational channels. Espinosa highlighted Mexico as an example of a nation…

Unlike some of the European countries sign on to a second commitment period of Kyoto protocol to begin in 2013, yesterday Japan stressed that it would never accept a second commitment period and would never agree to place its greenhouse gas emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. This is no doubt a great shock for other participants who were hoping for a more stringent mitigation goal. And the biggest concern is the effect that this announcement will have on the other Annex 1 countries. The announcement came of course as a major disappointment to small island states like Tuvalu, which, just the day before, had expressed its concern that developed countries seemed to lack the resolution to move on. If AWG-KP has no achievement in setting a post-2012 reduction…

Excerpts of this blog were featured on Damien Ma’s blog on The Atlantic.

While expectations for the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Cancun have been intentionally kept low, China is doing the opposite – raising the bar for developing countries that have no obligation under current international regimes such as the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change, while urging developed countries to step up to the plate.

Last week, the Chinese government officially recognized – for the first time – its position as the top global emitter of greenhouse gases.  Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission and China’s top climate official, Xie Zhenhua told reporters at a press briefing, “Our emissions volume now stands at number one in the world.”  To place…

This is the second day of the climate change negotiations in Cancun. The role of Mexico in these negotiations is very interesting. Yesterday during the plenary many parties highlighted the efforts that Mexico, as president of the COP, has conducted in bringing back transparency to the process. Patricia Espinosa, Foreign Affairs Minister and president of the COP16, stated that they would conduct several consultations with the parties and expected a positive outcome of this year’s conference.

On a different note, today I ran into a former colleague from Mexico’s National Forest Commission. She was telling me about the booths in the Cancunmesse and other events in the Village. When she asked me if I had already been there, I think that she could see in my face that I…

It’s the first day of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention, and I can’t imagine a more different conference from what I experienced in Copenhagen last year. The sun is brighter, my room isn’t in a youth hostel with six other grad students, and the negotiations are being held in a resort called the “Moon Palace” rather than the stark and utilitarian Bella Centre. But aside from the obvious differences between venues, what strikes me most is the difference in attitude and expectations.

Most of the international community went into Copenhagen last year expecting a landmark legally binding sequel to the Kyoto Protocol. Hundreds of heads of state flew in from all over the world, and countless protesters clamored outside, eager to have…

Students from the Instituto Tepeyac Xcaret show off their amazingly detailed work. On the left, their dark representation of what the Earth will become if no action is taken on climate change, and to the right, their representation of the eco-friendly world in which they hope to live.
I’m here in Cancun working with the international sustainable art organization ARTPORT_making waves. Yesterday my team and I went to Climate Change Village, the official cultural site for COP16, to screen some of the first selections in the film program we’ve put together. The Village, a collection of carnival tents erected along a roadside 13km north of the Moon Palace, is intended to “promote dialogue related to environmental issues amongst non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.”

But several journalists with whom I’ve talked think the decentralization of the COP16 venue is going to take some fizzle out of what is usually a lively cultural and artistic scene. In fact, at the physical heart of the COP so far seem to be the autoroutes between the…

I am a member of the Yale Delegation at COP 16, but I am also a delegate with the Federated States of Micronesia. The conference officially opened this morning with a welcome session.

Prior to the welcome session I spoke with a woman from another delegation on the shuttle ride over to Moon Palace, one of the main meeting locations. She seemed apprehensive about what, if any outcome would be achieved during the Conference. I am hopeful, that there will be a positive outcome from the conference, but I also wasn’t in Copenhagen at COP 15. People are still talking about it, and it’s disheartening to see that many of them still aren’t happy about it. It seems that the trust amongst parties has taken a beating, which is…