Organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the talks that started Monday in Cancun don’t appear to be laden down by the heady excitement that was palpable when last year’s annual conference began in Copenhagen.
As the world now knows, that optimism soon turned sour as the resulting so-called Copenhagen Accord was neither a legally-binding treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol which lapses in 2012 nor a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in the run up to this year’s conference, policy makers have been warning for months now that a new binding treaty won’t be attainable in Mexico either.
Reaching such a verdict before the meeting even began hasn’t downsized the enormous interest in dealing with climate change and our toxic addiction to coal and oil, however.
In addition to the army of negotiators, politicians, scientists and lobbyists — including the European Wind Energy Association’s Regulatory Affairs Advisor Remi Gruet — attending the talks until 10 December, journalists are also a formidable presence.
In my wanderings around the Internet world, I’ve found the best single media site for information about the talks and the behind-the-scene politicking is the Guardian newspaper which appears to be committing extra resources to covering the event. That coverage can be accessed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cancun-climate-change-conference-2010.
And the UNFCCC has a stellar site itself, full of background material, speeches, statements and links to some of the major media reports. That site can be found at http://unfccc.int/2860.php.
In her opening speech, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres played down the dissent that has followed the Copenhagen Accord by welcoming the thousands of delegates from 193 nations to the land of Ixchel, the ancient Mayan goddess of the moon, reason, creativity and weaving.
In a prepared statement, Figueres said negotiators urgently need to “weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change” because greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at their highest level since pre-industrial times.
“It is urgent because the poorest and most vulnerable need predictable and sufficient assistance to face a serious problem that they did not cause,” she said, adding “the task is not easy, but it is achievable.”