I think it’s fair to say that delegates’ expectations were not high in Cancun at the start of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. I was here in Stockholm working with Sweden as EU Presidency ahead of the Copenhagen conference last year and I know that the disappointment following Copenhagen ran very deep. So the fact that the Cancun Agreement was adopted – to the visible delight and relief of delegates from over 190 countries – represents a major step forward. We are back on track for a global deal to tackle climate change.
For those that don’t follow this closely the Cancun Agreement covers a wide range of measures. Decisions were reached on reducing deforestation, bringing details of both developed and developing countries’ actions to reduce emissions into the UN system and developing systems for measuring, reporting and verifying emission reductions and actions in line with countries’ commitments. The conference also agreed the establishment of a Green Climate Fund to support policies and activities in developing countries.
For the first time we have an international commitment to deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. This includes measures that will allow us to agree targets for peaking emissions as soon as possible and substantially reducing them by 2050.
But for me the single most important aspect of the Cancun Agreement is that it sends a very clear and positive message: the UN process is back on track, and with renewed momentum. This is hugely important. It shows that the international community wants to tackle climate change. But it also shows that we have the international processes to achieve this. Governments and business will be emboldened to take the action needed to prevent dangerous climate change threatening our global security and prosperity. And the UK and Sweden will continue to be at the forefront of that movement – with ambitious goals to reduce our carbon footprint and to develop green industry and technology that helps others and brings growth and jobs to our economies.
There remains much to do in the run-up to the 2011 climate conference in Durban and beyond. But Cancun represents a quiet but substantial triumph for international co-operation. Hats off to Mexico!