Friday, December 10, 2010

U.S. Speaks Out At Cancun Climate Change Meeting

Dec 9: Todd Stern, U.S. Department of State, Special Envoy for Climate Change delivered a statement on behalf of the U.S. at the 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Stern's statement was part of a day-long "high-level" segment where statements from heads of states, governments and delegations were delivered. Stern said:
    "Mr. President, I am honored to be here and represent the United States at this Conference, and to support the President of the COP and the Government of Mexico in pursuit of a successful outcome. I want to specifically thank Mexico for the outstanding work that they have done in hosting this event and in working on it all year. I think we all know how extraordinarily difficult it is to manage an event like this and to be in the role of the President. President Calderon, Foreign Minister Espinosa and her whole team have done an outstanding job.

    "Last year in Copenhagen, President Obama joined with leaders and others representing countries from around the world to find a formula that could bridge a wide variety of interests and perspectives and forge a new path on climate change -- one on which all Parties would embark together. The resulting Copenhagen Accord did not find universal acceptance, but it provided a significant step forward in our work -- including for the first time international agreement by all the world's major economies to implement their mitigation actions and targets in an internationally transparent manner, and that also paved the way for new institutions and support for climate finance, technology, adaptation, and REDD.

    "The United States has worked hard this year to move forward on elements that our leaders agreed to last year. We have invested more than $90 billion dollars to transform the way our country produces and consumes energy, and taken a range of new regulatory and other actions to reduce emissions. And we will continue to work strenuously with our Congress on legislative solutions to enhance our energy security and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have also secured approximately $1.7 billion dollars worth of climate assistance in our first year of Fast Start financing that will support adaptation activities for the most vulnerable countries around the world, combat deforestation in the world's most biologically diverse tropical forests, and help put countries on a path toward low-carbon development. Again, this is just the first of three years and we will be looking to increase that amount in each of the next two years.

    "Mr. President now is the time for us to take the next step. We can and must do this through a balanced package of decisions that builds on the understandings our leaders reached in Copenhagen and makes meaningful, comparable progress on the key elements of our negotiations. In this package, we can agree to launch the establishment of a Green Fund to serve as the centerpiece of an enhanced financial architecture for climate change. We can also move forward on substantial new arrangements for technology, adaptation, and REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation]. And we also must at the same time move forward to capture, to anchor, as the word has come to be used in these negotiations, the targets and actions that countries agreed to implement last year in a decision by the Conference of the Parties, so that these are an inherent part of our ongoing effort going forward.

    "And we must also clearly lay out the elements of transparency -- including International Consultations and Analysis -- that will provide us confidence that we are all carrying out, carrying through on our undertakings, and that will help gauge our progress in our collective worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    "We can and we should and we must do all of these things and begin a new operational phase in our work, even as we continue to work to progressively strengthen the Convention over time. Mr. President, I want to assure you the firm commitment of President Obama and the United States to working with all countries towards a solution to climate change, and toward a successful outcome this week here in Cancun. Thank you very much."

    According to an IISD report of the meeting, as of 9 PM last evening (December 9), an informal "stocktaking session" was convened by COP and COP/MOP President Espinosa. Ministers leading the informal consultations suggested that while "issues had been 'better elaborated,' compromise texts on the Kyoto Protocol, mitigation and MRV had not been crafted. The stocktaking ended at around 11 pm with a reminder from President Espinosa that 'very few hours for actual negotiating' remained. Already-tired delegates therefore prepared themselves for "another marathon all-nighter." One high-level representative indicated that 'there is still a deal to be done -- but we could also end up with a belly flop.'" Reports from earlier today indicated that informal ministerial consultations continued throughout the night. The Conference is scheduled to end today.

    Access the complete text U.S. statement (click here). Access various webcast (click here). Access the State Department COP16/CMP6 website including links to press briefings, the U.S. Center, extensive other links, schedules, reports and fact sheets (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for complete details, documents and live, on-demand webcasts (click here). Access the Mexico host country COP16 website (click here). Access detailed, day-by-day coverage from IISD (click here).