For Climate Change Action, a Key Opportunity in Cancun

Last year around this time, all eyes were on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen, as the international community attempted to create a comprehensive, legally binding global climate change agreement and to determine the next phase of emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Doing so would have been an unprecedented example of international coordination; unfortunately, the nations of the world fell short of what might have been an extraordinary outcome.

This week, world leaders have another opportunity to put us on track to address the global issue of climate change. This time they are gathering in Cancun, Mexico, where the UNFCCC’s 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) is about to take place. However, many people appear to be writing the talks off as a failure before they even begin.

Success. Failure. These words make for good headlines, but in reality the outcome from Cancun is likely to be more nuanced than that. And that is good news.

It’s true that the climate talks in Cancun are unlikely to result in the type of comprehensive agreement that many had hoped for in Copenhagen. But these negotiations can put us back on course. A new comprehensive global climate agreement is still possible in next year’s meeting in Durban, South Africa — possible and necessary. Because here’s the deal: when it comes to climate change action, we can’t afford to wait.

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. Without integrated international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts, we are putting the lives and livelihoods of billions at risk. The UNFCCC is the only international climate change body that includes every country in the world; therefore, true climate solutions will not be possible without decisive actions by this group.

But time is running out. Without the advancement of key negotiations in Cancun, a comprehensive post-2012 agreement may slip through our fingers once and for all.

Our Goals

COP16 provides a critical opportunity to advance the work that was left undone in Copenhagen.

At the meeting, delegations from 196 countries will be joined by indigenous groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and other stakeholders. CI staff members working in nearly 20 countries will participate in the meeting as both national representatives and advisors. After a year of preparation, negotiations and engagement with governments and key stakeholders, we are prepared to work around the clock to inform decision-makers about important issues based on our field experience and scientific and policy expertise.

We hope to support the political process and development of policies in Cancun in order to achieve these main goals:

  • Advancement of UNFCCC negotiations and agreement on a timeline that puts the world on track for comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement(s).
  • A detailed REDD+ decision that, among other things, includes social and environmental safeguards and activities beyond deforestation and forest degradation; secures adequate and sustainable financing; and initiates a process to establish clear guidelines on reference levels and Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV).
  • A detailed adaptation decision that includes a framework for adaptation action and support for community and ecosystem-based adaptation solutions.

The conference, which runs from November 29–December 10, is likely to be a rollercoaster ride of hectic days and late nights. Check back on our blog for the latest updates on the COP16 negotiations.

Rebecca Chacko is the director of climate policy in CI’s Center for Conservation and Government. Read all of our policy recommendations for COP16 (PDF – 101 KB).


  1. M Andrus says

    Please . . . the time is now!!! We CANNOT delay any longer – for the sake of the world and everything in it. PLEASE move toward clean, renewable energy NOW!

  2. Monique Duphil says

    We have inherited an incredibly beautiful and organized world, offering everything we could need or wish, to have a happy, fulfilling, dreamlike life. But we invented and crowned a God called Money, which created a sickness named Greed. Now that we are almost all infected, we are relentlessly killing each others, enslaving, torturing and murdering as many animal species as possible, and devastating and robbing the seas, the earth, the rivers, the forests, the plants. Everything with some form of life is the target for destruction with which we hope to make offerings to the God Money, and satisfy and apease the sickness Greed. The speed of destruction is constantly doubling, we can already imagine what the grand final will be.
    Never mind, there are most probably other livable worlds, still intact.
    BUT NOT FOR US, Greed consumed and Money enslaved humans.

    May be we can still reverse, find back love and purity.
    I am ready. Are you?

  3. Paula Menyuk says

    Those in power need to face up to the fact that time is running out to preserve the planet in its complete and perfect form. We are in danger of leaving a planet that is sorely beset by the effects of climate change. We must save the planet for our grandchildren and the generations that follow.

  4. Sandy Chacko says

    The work toward protecting our world from climate change is so important and needs immediate attention. I am thankful for all who are working on this issue. I wish legislators and citizens of the USA would open their eyes and ears to the scientific data that clearly points out the problems and take actions now in setting policies to protect our environment. The USA should be a leader in this important issue.


    Well anothertalkfest.May be some of the NGOS can make a impact,let the Tokelauns,Pakistani farmers,indigenous mountain tribes,tribal South American Indians,etc talk about what they want and denounce the time of the emitting countries to share their opinions.Yes money and greed is only good for exploiting our last reserves of minerals and fossil fuel energys but I hope that logic comes to the fore.We have seen peat fires in Russia,earthquakes,floods and widespread depravaation never before seen this decade.As we begin this second decade of a new millenium what will we tell our children when the last resource of oil,metal ore and flora and fauna isn’t there anymore.I know that we have to they will forever hate our generation for not enacting a true green policy and have the laws of this planet as our decree.Reuse,recycle,preserve and guardian our natural heritage like she is our mother.

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