Cancun agreement puts climate negotiations forward

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The outcome of last week's United Nations climate change conference in Cancún, Mexico, has put the negotiation process back on track, a UN official told reporters at UN Headquarters.

 "The fact that there was a hunger for a deal and a recognition of the stakes showed that governments have come to grips with the fact that their negotiation suffered a blow in the previous year and it was their responsibility to get it back on track," said Robert Orr, the Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning and Policy Coordination.

Agreement was reached on anchoring climate change mitigation commitments of all countries into the formal process of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ().

"We now will have a system for receiving those commitments for monitoring, reporting and verifying those commitments," Mr. Orr said. "There will be a process that will be quite transparent," he said.

A deal was also struck on deforestation and land use, a development that is expected to "unlock capital" for forest conservation efforts because close to a one-fifth of the accumulation of harmful greenhouse gases has been blamed on deforestation. "This agreement framework will have concrete impact on the ground," Mr. Orr said.

On climate change financing, progress was made on the "fast-track financing" which will require developed countries to raise $30 billion over a three-year period to help poor countries cope with the consequences of climate change.

"The agreement in Cancún is important in that it establishes a mechanism to register and track these [financing] commitments," Mr. Orr said.

Delegates also reached agreement on the proposed longer-term "green climate fund" and endorsed the report of the Secretary-General's High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, which concluded that while challenging, the goal of raising $100 billion annually by 2020 is feasible. Details on the fund's set-up have still to be worked out.

On the future of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the Convention that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whose first commitment period is due to expire in 2012, the Secretary-General's call for a compromise was accepted with delegates agreeing to ensure that there was no gap. Negotiations on the second commitment phase of the Protocol will continue.

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