This week I’ll be heading to Cancun, Mexico for the international climate negotiations, known as COP 16.
The talks officially begin on the 29th of November, and are scheduled to end on the 10th of December. In that time, it is hoped that 192 nations can come a little closer to finding the common ground necessary to move towards a global deal that will save the climate.
Although it is unlikely that a binding agreement will be reached in Cancun, it is hoped that some real progress can be made in terms of a non-binding set of decisions. That would put us on a path to a legally binding agreement at COP 17, to be hosted by South Africa in Durban next year.
Progress in the negotiations has been very slow this year, and a major stumbling block has been the approach that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. The problem being that there is a LOT that needs to be agreed - now it is hoped that countries will being to have the approach of ‘nothing is agreed until enough is agreed’.
Forward movement in these negotiations is essential.
What is also clear is that the Mexican and South African presidencies must continue to show leadership in the negotiations and help build trust after Copenhagen. South Africa must emerge from Cancun as a climate leader – hosting the negotiations next year places the South African government in a position of leadership, but also huge responsibility.
I’m feeling a little anxious about the negotiations – it’s hard to tell which way things are going to go at the moment, but I’m also optimistic that our elected leaders will find the courage to act in Cancun, and follow that through with a legally binding deal in 2011.
At the end of the day, the climate talks are where our hopes lie for concerted, international action on climate change. And it is the combination of international and domestic action on climate change that will mean that a sustainable, clean future can be built, based on green jobs and clean, renewable sources of energy. My fingers are crossed.