Climate Adaptation at the Cancun COP Meeting

December 13, 2010

With the proceedings in Cancun just completed over the past weekend, we can begin to evaluate what was achieved — and what was not addressed — at COP-16.  Real progress was made on several issues, including climate adaptation.  A Green Climate Fund under the UNFCCC will support climate adaptation efforts in developing countries.  Also, a Cancun Adaptation Framework was announced under which countries are invited to submit to the UNFCCC secretariat by 21 February 2011 views on the composition and procedures of an adaptation committee, which is supposed to help least developed countries formulate and implement national adaptation plans. 

With attention and dollars now flowing towards the adaptation space, 10 NGO’s  — including Transparency International, Germanwatch, and IIED — announced in Cancun [press conference webcast] the formation of AdaptationWatch, a collaboration intended to monitor the various streams of adaptation financing as well as to track examples of good practices.  William D’Alessandro, writing in Crosslands Bulletin, suggests that the Cancun outcome represents a further dismantling of the Kyoto framework, "weeding out the thorny remnants of the Kyoto Protocol. " [www.crosslandsbulletin.com]

Indeed, US lead negotiator Todd Stern acknowledged in a post-mortem press conference [webcast]  that Cancun was all about building on last year’s Copenhagen Accord.  Stern candidly revealed that US positions have never revolved around Kyoto.  "[T]he US would not do a legal agreement in the old Kyoto style, which is to say that only the developed countries are in it, and countries like China and India and so forth, are not.  That is not something we are going to do.” Many of the more difficult decisions regarding climate targets have been deferred for another year; the climate change negotiations will next head to Durban, South Africa for COP-17 in late 2011.