Statement: Cancún Climate Talks Take Steps to Strengthen Climate Action

Statement of Elliot Diringer
Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

December 11, 2010

The Cancún agreement demonstrates that the multilateral climate process can produce tangible results. For too long, parties have acted as if it’s binding or nothing and we’ve gotten nothing. Finally we’re seeing some modest but real steps to strengthen climate action.
Ultimately we need a comprehensive binding climate treaty, but there are fundamental differences among countries over how and when we get there. Thankfully they were willing to put those differences aside for now and agree on incremental steps that will deliver stronger action in the near term and lay the foundation for binding commitments down the road.

The Cancún agreement formalizes the fundamental elements of the Copenhagen Accord and starts to implement them. Key among these are a stronger support system for developing countries, including a new climate fund, and a stronger transparency system to better assess whether countries are keeping their promises. Both will build trust and confidence, which will help produce stronger action and agreements in the future.

The agreement also incorporates the targets and actions pledged earlier under the Copenhagen Accord. This marks the first time all of the world’s major economies have made explicit mitigation pledges under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change since its negotiation nearly two decades ago.

Much work remains ahead to strengthen countries’ efforts and fully implement these new mechanisms. But a year after the crisis of confidence in Copenhagen, the Mexican government deserves real credit for resuscitating the multilateral climate effort. Cancún has restored trust and, hopefully, represents the start of a new, more productive phase in the global effort.

Cancún Climate Conference Resources

Pew Center Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146