The climate bloggers Lan Marie Berg and Florent Baarsch are questioning whether the climate deal of Cancún really is a step in the right direction. In their chronicle in Ny Tid on January 14th, they are underlining, correctly, that climate change is about ecological sustainability and human suffering, not about numbers and percentages. But it is also crucial to ask the question of what is politically possible. Where would we be without the Cancún-agreement?
All other constructions in human history – trade, disarmament, and human rights – are built stone by stone, agreement on agreement. Unfortunately, the alternative to the Cancún-agreement would not be a better, more ambitious and legal binding climate deal that would have ensured that we would get global warming under control.
Without the Cancún-agreements, we would have been left with the far less comprehensive and binding Copenhagen Accord. It would have been a huge set-back in the international climate negotiations. The UN would have been discredited, and then it would indeed have been a reason to fear that the big countries would have enhanced their influence at the cost of the poor.
Bolivia’s “braveness” was about to block the whole agreement. Bolivia had a lot of good suggestions that is easy to agree on – but it wasn’t politically possible. If you want to get anywhere in politics, and in life, you have to compromise. Sometimes it is necessary to walk step by step to reach your goal in the future. Bolivia doesn’t deserve any support for its “lonely-walk”. We were many trying to get them on the right track. Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador, for example, and Norway.
The Cancún-agreement delivers too little when it comes to emission reductions. We are far from the 2-degrees target. But the countries agreed on a process that might lead to stronger commitments.
In 2011, we will negotiate global mitigation targets towards 2050. Norway, and many with us, will work to strengthen the ambitions and the deal. The Cancún-agreement is a balanced compromise in the right meaning of the word. Everybody had to give and take. That is why the island states also supported the agreement and worked actively to get consensus in the last phase.
Norway wants the Kyoto protocol to be the foundation for a new international regime that includes all countries. We didn’t get as far as we wanted in Cancún and the agreement shows that this road is still long. The Kyoto-problem is not solved, but we can’t let that stop us from finding solutions on many other areas, as mitigation, adaptation, measurement, reporting and verification mechanisms, rainforest protection and finance. The deal is anchoring the mitigation targets from the Copenhagen Accord and encourages the countries to strengthen their emission targets.
In 2011 we will negotiate what legal form we can get on an inclusive and global climate agreement. In 2015 the whole agreement will be reviewed to see if it is a sufficient answer to the global climate challenge.
The Cancún-agreement gives a large space for countries to propose individual initiatives. Now, we are starting the work to secure further progress in Durban. This is high priority for Norway. I am glad that Lan Marie Berg and Florent Baarsch are emphasizing the need to mobilize the climate movement. We need your help to pull the negotiations in the right direction!
Erik Solheim, Minister for the Environment and Development.