Activists bring icons from around the world to Cancun

by Jess Miller

December 8, 2010


With just 3 days of negotiations left, activists once again took to the water to bring their message to the decision makers at the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.

Early this morning, reproductions of the some of the most recognizable monuments from around the world were planted in sea. The result is a striking image of some of our most beloved statues, temples and iconic buildings half submerged in water. A symbolic action to remind governments that the rising tide of climate impacts, be they economic, environmental or humanitarian will affect each and every one of us  – rich and poor if leaders don’t make the choice in Cancun to take immediate action to combat climate change. Here is the latest update on the current state of play at COP 16:


The establishment of a climate fund has been pushed back till next year. This is extremely disappointing because it was one of the promises leaders made last year in Copenhagen. This is money that is needed to help developing countries combat climate change and invest in renewable and sustainable futures. Now the world will have to wait another year to see if developed countries will make good on their promises.

Equally as troubling are the discussions on how to increase the weak emissions reductions pledges originally made last year by industrialized countries. Scientists have repeatedly warned that the pledges are completely inadequate to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C or less. The difference between how much we need to reduce emissions by and the pledges currently on the table is known as the “gigatonne gap”. You may have heard of it before.  Sounds like an inconceivable number? Well that’s just how far away we are from where we need to be but those countries with the weakest targets of all, USA, Canada and Russia, are not even willing to acknowledge this gap.

You might think that the EU is much better when it comes to addressing the gigatonne gap. They are happy to acknowledge its existence but when it comes to acting on it, the EU refuses to even shift its target up to 30% by 2020 (at 1990 levels) to address the problem. Australia is in a similar position, also acknowledging the gap but refusing to increase its target. So we have countries that refuse to acknowledge the problem and others that admit we have a big problem but none of them are willing to take action to make sure we close the gap!


When we first arrived in Cancun, Japan shocked everyone by saying they were pulling out of the second commitment period of Kyoto. Since then, Canada and Russia have joined Japan in turning their backs on the only international climate treaty that exists. We are calling on Canada and Russia to return to backing the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol as part of a larger, legally binding agreement. Greenpeace is demanding all governments agree on the legal form of the final deal.

Keep up to date on our Cancun page and this blog over the next few days- we promise to keep you updated on the negotiations and everything we are doing to bring your demands for action to Cancun.

Think you name all the icons in the photos? Give it a try in the comments section.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.