In Cancun this morning there is a collective feeling similar to a hangover after an epic night out. Everyone is sharing juicy stories, some of us are still trying to figure out exactly what happened last night, some are elated, some are dismayed and everyone is absolutely shattered.

And an epic night it was: In the early hours of this morning the Cancun Agreements were signed. A deal was done. This isn’t the ambitious or binding deal the world is looking for, but many are saying the Cancun Agreements lay the foundations for that deal to be made in Durban, South Africa next year at COP17. The mood inside the venue went from resigned and depressed to optimistic and energetic. After midnight, when the deal was being finalised, there were standing ovations in the plenary, praise heaped upon the Mexican presidency, phrases like ‘new beginning’ being heard in the halls and pats on the back all round.

Personally, I heard about this all from my hostel in downtown Cancun, rather than being in the thick of it. Earlier in the day, around twelve of us were forcibly removed from the UN for taking part in a peaceful protest. We stood arm in arm inside the entrance of the Maya building with gags over our mouths saying ‘UNFCCC’. This was to symbolize the silencing of the voices of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples, women, youth and those from the global south in the UN process. Security herded onto what we’ve been calling ‘deportation buses’ and dropped off about 5km down the highway.

This wasn’t the only protest on the last day of COP. The frustration the youth here have felt, which I blogged about earlier, spilled over last night when a group descended on the steps of the main conference building and began counting to 21,000; the number of climate change related deaths this year alone. At first security tolerated the protest, but as night closed in and the group showed no signs of giving up and going home, they demanded they leave. Eventually this group was also kicked out off the premises.

Despite the shift in mood that was reported in the wee hours of the morning when a deal was signed, the tears and anger involved in these protests yesterday were testament to the exclusion that led to that deal.

Despite the flaws in the text of the Cancun Agreements, most NGOs are not criticising it too heavily for fear of further loss of faith in the UNFCCC.

So what are the key elements of this agreement?

• Statement of the shared goal to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, and acknowledgement that current pledges are not commensurate with the deep emissions cuts required to achieve this.

• No second commitment period agreed upon, but countries with obligations under the Kyoto Protocol agree to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty.

• The structure and details of a Green Climate Fund have been decided. However this involved equal rather than equitable representation, which may lead to limited representation for marginalised groups. This fund is also to be administered by the World Bank for the first three years.

• Developing countries have agreed to take on actions to limit the rise in their emissions and, critically, agreed to independent verification of the effectiveness of these actions in exchange for funding and technology transfer from rich nations.

• New rules around Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) have not been decided upon, which the NZ Government is not happy about.

• Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) rules have been agreed upon and only mentioned as a market mechanism. No mention of the possibility of REDD still being a fund. Many indigenous and climate justice groups are incredibly unhappy with this.

We now all begin to look towards COP17 in Durban next year. We in the New Zealand Youth Delegation have begun to think about the election this year, our local politics and how we can get climate change higher on the agenda. Because as has been illustrated here, countries come to COP with their own position and decisions already made. I continue to question the UNFCCC and whether it will produce the real solutions to climate change while economics rules over ethics. In order to think globally, we need to act locally. We need to question the systemic problems that lead to the lack of progress in the UNFCCC, and stop calling that questioning radical. After all, what is so radical about survival?

Lastly, a big shout out to Adrian Macey, the former head of the New Zealand government delegation who has just been promoted from Co-Chair to Chair of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. I hope that despite his history of being a New Zealand negotiator he will act in an unbiased way towards both developed and developing countries. I hope he acknowledges that these negotiations have not been democratic or transparent and that he will act to improve on that in Durban.