Cancun agreement builds towards a global climate deal

Feature Story - 13 December, 2010
Governments chose hope over fear at talks ending in Mexico over the weekend and put the building blocks back in place for a global deal to combat climate change.

Dive at Underwater Art Installation in Cancun

For the first time in years, governments put aside some major differences, and made small, but important steps, towards an international climate deal.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, this is what was agreed

Governments not only acknowledged the gap between their current weak pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions and where they need to get to, they actually stated that cuts needed to be in line with the science - 25 to 40 percent cuts by 2020 - and that they need to keep global temperature rise below two degrees.

Governments established a fund to deliver US$100 billion needed for the developing world to deal with climate change and stop deforestation. The next step is to establish how they will provide that money.

Governments agreed on how to protect rainforests while safeguarding indigenous peoples' rights and biodiversity. The 'REDD agreement' sidesteps some corruption issues in developing countries like Papua New Guinea, but there is time to strengthen the deal over the coming months.

Thankfully, the UN climate conference in Cancun saved the international process from collapse - but we have not yet been saved from climate change. Governments have a lot of work to do to follow through on the Cancun agreement.

At home we need to demand that the Australian Government hasten change. Australia's emission reduction targets are still some of the weakest in the developed world, and Australia uses arbitrary definitions of 'land-use' to get out of our fair share of emissions reductions.

If Australia wants to be taken seriously at upcoming international climate negotiations we need to take targets similar to other developed countries and close the sneaky loopholes that diminish our contribution to the fight against global warming.

The Australian Government can make sure we're able meet our promises on the international stage next year by putting a price on carbon pollution.

So they have recongnised the scale of the problem, now they need a deal to match. That deal needs to be struck twelve months from now in Durban, South Africa for COP17.