Cancún-Mountain Trails

Dec 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Events, UNFCCC

Cancún Mexico: 29 Nov-10 Dec 2010 Summed Up

What was COP16/CMP6?

COP16/CMP6 was the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) and the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). “Parties” refers to all the national states that signed and ratified both of the international treaties, committing to observe and comply with its terms regarding international cooperation against climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been signed by 194 State Parties (list) and the Kyoto Protocol has been ratify by 184 State Parties (list). In accordance with Article 7 of the Convention, the Conference of the Parties in its authority of the supreme body has the mandate of adopting the necessary decisions for the promotion of its effective application.

The name COP refers to the english acronysm of the reunions of the State Parties on numerous International Treaties (“Conference of Parties”). However, due to the relevance of the subject within the international agenda, the name COP is related to Climate Change. These conferences are celebrated annually between the months of November and December. This year, the Conference will take place in Cancun, Mexico, yet it is important to highlight that it is the Convention’s Secretariat that organizes them in conformity to the reunions standards established by the United Nations.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was composed of two general categories of participants: The State Parties and the observers. The observers were divided into Intergovernmental Organizations and Nongovernmental Organizations (Article 7 section 6), who must register and accredit themselves before the Convention’s Secretariat in order to participate in the Conferences. Only the representatives of the registered organizations were allowed to assist attend the sessions of the different bodies of the Convention, as observers.

Pre-Cancun Brefing by IIEA:

The latest round of UN negotiations on climate change, COP 16, took place in Cancún, Mexico, from Monday 29 November to Friday 10 December 2010. The Copenhagen Accord, which was the outcome of last December’s climate conference (COP 15), established a “bottom-up” ledge and review process for national mitigation targets. The  top-down” legally binding Treaty that had originally been envisaged by the EU for Copenhagen proved impossible to agree. While some countries expressed qualified satisfaction with the outcome, notably China and India, initial responses from many world leaders pointed to widespread disappointment.

Negotiations have continued towards the delivery of a legally binding agreement in a variety of formal and informal fora over the past year. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) working groups have met four times since Copenhagen – in Bonn (the home of the UNFCCC Secretariat) in April, June and August and, most recently, in Tianjin in October. Climate change has also been on the agenda at several international fora: the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change1, the G8 and G20, the Geneva Informal Dialogue on Climate Finance, Ministerial Meetings of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China – the four major emerging economies that negotiated the Copenhagen Accord with the United States), and at a variety of bilateral summits.

This briefing looks forward to the Cancún negotiations. It first sets out what was agreed in Copenhagen on a number of key issues. Second, it examines the positions of key actors in the negotiating process on these issues. Third, it looks at general expectations for COP 16, and finally, it draws implications from the analysis presented.

Download Document: WhatCanCancúnDeliver


Who Took Mountain Agenda Forward at Cancún


ICIMOD Event: Mountains in Peril: Mainstreaming the sustainable mountain development agenda into climate change agreements


[2 December 2010, at Cancun Messe; Room: Águila]

This side event  held to highlight mountain issues and challenges in the light of climate change, and to link these to the debate on how to mainstream the sustainable development agenda while planning adaptation and mitigation activities in mountain areas, including the management of risks and hazards in the fragile mountain environment. The side event was attended by expert institutions and relevant government organisations working in the field of climate change from around the world to share with a global audience their understanding of mountain issues, and their experiences, insights, and solutions to make mountain systems more resilient and sustainable. The focus was on specific and relevant topics that are important to the mountain ecosystem and overall development of mountain communities from a climate change point of view. Details>>

Download Flyer: Cop 16 side event flyer


MOUNTAIN PARTNERSHIP EVENT-I: Adapting to the impacts of climate change in mountain areas: Innovative approaches at local and national level


[7 December 2010 Aguila room, 13:20-14:40, ]

This side event was organized jointly by the governments of Chile and Peru in the context of the Mountain Partnership and it focused on sharing positive experiences and innovative examples of adaptation to climate change in mountain regions. The examples illustrated how the effects of climate change are dealt with at local and national level and will present promising institutional, technical, financial and policy approaches.

The event aimed to identify several key areas of intervention that the various stakeholders – individuals, communities and governments – should consider in climate change adaptation efforts, based on the experiences presented. Practical next steps were suggested, promoted and converted into action programmes in the context of the Mountain Partnership. Speakers included the Ministers from Chile, Peru and Nepal.


MOUNTAIN PARTNERSHIP EVENT-II: Regional approaches for climate change adaptation in mountain areas: sharing the experience


[Thursday, 9 December 2010, 15:00-16:30,Venue: Jaguar room]

The second side event was jointly organized by the Government of Montenegro and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat and focused on positive experiences and innovative examples of regional approaches and mechanisms to address adaptation to climate change in mountain areas.

Experiences were shared from the Balkans, Alps, Carpathians, Andes and Hindu Kush Himalaya, highlighting different approaches to cooperation within and between mountain regions. Both formal mechanisms – such as legal conventions – and less formal arrangements were presented by government representatives as well as information on the role and contributions of supporting institutions, such as the Alpine and Carpathian Convention Secretariats, and mountain centres such as ICIMOD.

The event aimed to enhance ongoing efforts in regional cooperation through the sharing of experiences and to use the lessons learnt as a basis for initiating new cooperation in mountain regions that would like to pursue closer joint collaboration on mountain issues. Speakers included Ministers from Montenegro, Bhutan and Slovenia.

For further information please contact Rosalaura Romeo or Douglas McGuire


Cancún climate talks: what you needed to know


The talks that are meant to fix the world’s climate resume on Monday for a two-week meeting in Cancún, Mexico’s top beach resort. Almost 200 national governments are participating, and their objective is to agree a successor to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which limits emissions of greenhouse gases from most industrialised countries except the US, and runs out at the end of 2012. But no one thinks this will happen. Diplomats are still bruised after their high-profile failure to reach agreement last December in Copenhagen. While governments argue, however, time is running out.

Could there be a deal this time?

Almost certainly not. There will be no Cancún protocol. With confidence shattered after Copenhagen, the best hope is for a deal at next year’s climate summit in Durban, South Africa. But that would be a perilous delay: investment in renewable energy and carbon-offset projects is already being cut back because nobody knows what the rules on emissions will be in future.

A further factor is the weakness of the US. President Barack Obama, who favours an ambitious deal, is much less powerful than he was a year ago. His much-vaunted climate legislation – aimed at cutting emissions by 17 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020 – is effectively dead, following Republican gains in Congress after the recent midterm elections.

Without firm and believable US commitments, China and many other nations will probably sit on their hands. Finally, the economic recession has doused the enthusiasm of the European Union, formerly the banner-carrier for firm action.

But hasn’t the economic slowdown bought us some time?

No. Emissions last year were slightly lower than the year before, because of the economic downturn in the west, but they were still the second highest ever. Much of the slack was picked up by developing countries, many of which are still growing fast: China’s carbon dioxide emissions rose 8 per cent, for instance. Because a lot of technology and industry in developing countries makes inefficient use of energy, most such countries emit more carbon for every dollar of their GDP than industrialised nations, so improvements in the “carbon intensity” of the world economy are stalling.

The biggest effect of recession, however, may be to slow investment in the low-carbon energy technologies we desperately need.

But hasn’t the warming stopped?

No. Depending on how you do the stats, you could argue that it has slowed a bit in the past decade. Those who claim warming has stalled usually take as their start point the highly anomalous year of 1998: then, a strong El Niño – a weather pattern that always causes warmer-than-average years – gave the world a heatwave.

This year is on course to be in the top three hottest ever recorded, with 1998 and 2005 – even though some natural cycles have led to short-term cooling, including low solar activity and changes in the distribution of heat between the oceans and atmosphere.

Some researchers argue that this last effect has been moderating the warming caused by greenhouses gases for the past decade. If so, we may soon see hyper-warming as human and natural effects come back into sync.

The bottom line is that whatever the natural fluctuations, the physics of how greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane trap heat is unassailable – and we have continued to add to the atmosphere’s load.

So if the need remains urgent, what will come out of Cancún?

There will probably be steps towards an overall agreement, including perhaps a deal on funds to help poor nations adapt to climate change. Many hope Cancún will agree the small print on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), an initiative to compensate countries that slow or halt deforestation.

Like burning fossil fuels, deforestation transfers carbon from trees and soil into the atmosphere, and stopping it is one of the cheapest ways to fight climate change. Everyone can be a winner with REDD. Rich nations find a cost-effective way of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, with plenty of potential for “carbon offsets”: they can invest in forest conservation as a cheap alternative to reducing their own emissions. Poor forested nations in the tropics can rake in billions of dollars for committing to conservation. Conservationists, meanwhile, get new allies and new funds for saving rainforests and protecting biodiversity. But of course a deal will only come into effect if the wider agreement on a replacement for Kyoto is completed.

What if it all goes belly-up?

However badly it goes, nobody will declare the final failure of the talks until the Durban meeting next year. But if the worst comes to the worst in Durban, many countries may simply register with the United Nations commitments on emissions that they have already made: Europe has promised a 20 per cent cut by 2020, and China has agreed to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, regardless of any global deal.

That would be something, but as the UN Environment Programme pointed out this month, those current commitments are nowhere near enough to cap warming at 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, which many regard as the maximum “safe” warming. Fearing the worst, leading climate scientists at a conference in Oxford, UK, last year warned that we could see 4 °C of warming as early as 2055, with likely effects including massive changes to rainfall patterns, the wholesale collapse of African farming and forced migration of hundreds of millions of people.

In the case of a diplomatic stalemate, our last resort may be geoengineering solutions like parasols in space or large-scale chemical carbon capture from the atmosphere. Researchers distressed by the failure of diplomacy are increasingly keen to explore such options as a planetary insurance policy, though a meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Japan recently sought to ban such efforts if they threatened species.



Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

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