Cancun climate talks: which country will show real leadership?

Feature Story - 30 November, 2010
Unlike Copenhagen, the 2010 international climate meeting Cancun has begun in Cancun, Mexico with little fanfare – but vital issues are still very much on the table.

Greenpeace flies a hot air balloon over Chichen Itza © Luis Pérez / Greenpeace

Cancun will not see a global deal, but governments need to make some absolutely crucial decisions on key areas like climate finance and forests - and to agree a clear path toward resolving some of the more difficult issues.

Greenpeace expectations for the countries attending Cancun are in five key areas:

Reiterate their goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2°C, and review this number in light of the fact that a 1.5° rise will have dangerous impacts.

Acknowledge that the current targets are not enough to avoid dangerous climate change - and agree on a process to increase those targets.

Set up a Climate Fund for poor countries impacted by climate change.

Agree a workplan on long-term climate finance.

Establish a mechanism to tackle emissions from deforestation and ensure this mechanism protects both biodiversity and indigenous peoples' rights.

The greatest fear is that failure to pass cap and trade legislation in the US will slow moves toward a global treaty.

But countries like China are perfectly positioned to take a leadership role - a role sorely lacking from developed countries. And the EU is already close to reaching its climate target and could easily shift up a gear to a strong target of 30% cuts in emissions by 2020.

"It is time for countries to stop hiding behind the US and become leaders," said Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Wendel Trio.

To avoid dangerous climate change, governments need to ultimately conclude a legally binding global agreement to cut emissions. The industrialised world must also provide money for climate action in poor countries.

They are unlikely to get there this time, but by the time delegates leave Cancun it is essential that building blocks for a treaty be firmly in place.


Read more about the global impacts of climate change