Politics and Economics of Climate Change
The Politics and Economics of Climate Change: Cancun 2010
Negotiators and representatives met in Cancun to press forward with global talks on curbing climate change. Europe needs to may a major role on the fashioning of international approaches to the economics and politics behind climate change politics - focusing both on key geographical concerns and the art of diplomacy necessary to secure 'a deal' that might stick. What could be done differently to prevent Cancun becoming another Copenhagen (COP15). With the media relatively unfocussed on the debates and expectations so low, what can we expect?
Questions on the table include: What economic and development sacrifices can, and will, Europe make in the quest for an agreement? Can Europe and surrounding regions afford the impacts of climate change if no agreement is reached? What are the economic and social costs of climate change in Europe? Is the UN Framework for Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) an effective framework? Are issues of inter-state diplomacy, cities and regional issues neglected? Should decisions be imposed on nation states? Can sanctions be put in place with those non- compliant? Can this work with such powerful countries such as the US and China back at the table?
We invite students and scholars to enter the discussion by contributing their views on issues surrounding the conference. Interested participants should contact the Europaeum office with submissions.
Submitted on 17/12/2010 by Lubica Pollakova, University of Oxford:
Comparing the Cancun summit with the previous one at Copenhagen, one is struck by the lack of publicity surrounding the event. This was caused partly by the strong focus on the Wikileaks and other issues, such as the negotiations with Iran. However, the main reason is that the participating countries have not been able to agree on anything substantial so far and they are not expected to reach a major deal by 10th December. The participants are more interested in their domestic political issues and have not shown sufficient willingness to compromise. Overall, the momentum lost at Copenhagen has not been recovered.
Submitted on 15/12/2010 by Christina Traher, Keble College, Oxford
The Cancun climate change debates have a drastically different focus from the Copenhagen talks. A much more pessimistic attitude towards dramatically cutting emissions pervades: the targets agreed in Copenhagen - particularly in regard to renewable energy investment - seem significantly less feasible in the current economic climate (the figure of $100 billion a year was set at Copenhagen as the necessary sum needed just to support developing nations whilst reducing global warming). In addition, it seems that many experts have come to the conclusion that successfully cutting emission levels will be much harder and more costly than previously thought, especially in regard to agreement of a treaty: many developing nations want the Copenhagen Accord and Kyoto Protocol renewed, but some developed countries want poorer countries to reduce emissions as well, which will impede their economic growth. In addition, China's reliance on coal may be a sticking point. There is a general feeling that the summit will not produce a binding agreement.
Submitted on 12/12/2010 by Laurent Lambert, DPhil Cand. - St Antony's College, University of Oxford:
Joyful faces, loud and prolonged applauses, people congratulating one another, we really could enjoy nice images from Cancun’s ending negotiations recently. Apparently, a ’climate deal’ has finally been reached in Cancun. Great! But, what’s his name actually?
Well, there is no real name for it. It is not a new protocol, agreement or accord that would be comprehensive, or legally binding. There is instead a ’package’ (the UNFCCC’s term). From a diplomatic perspective, one can only be intrigued or even alarmed that the UN climate negotiations have gone through a gradual process of declining ambitions. From a legally binding Protocol in Kyoto, it went through an 'Accord’ in Copenhagen last year (so a sort of non-binding declaration of intention), to now reach the state of ’Agreements’ in Cancun. Agreements? That is generally what diplomats use when they do not reach any better stage in the negotiations, a treaty or accord for instance. So following this creative but honestly frightening diplomatic trend, we may wonder what’s up for next year? A Johannesburg 'promise'? A COP-17 ’statement of possibilities’? Or a South-African ’talk’?
Submitted on 11/12/2010 by Isobel Edwards, University of Nottingham
The low expectations for the Cancun event - feelings I very much share - have been proven correct. Almost 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit I believe that the divisions of industrialized and developing countries still prevail. However, considering the levels of emissions and environmental degradation that some developing countries, namely China, India and Brazil, are now responsible for, their lack of commitment to change is something I find particularly concerning. Another problem is the lack of public interested, and therefore accountability of governments to put change in place. Overall, after the first week of Cancun I feel that the central result has been a series back-tracking from, and renegotiation of, the Bali Action Plan.
Submitted on 7/12/2010 by Kaarina Kolle of the University of Helsinki, Finland (to study for MSc in Nature, Society & Environmental Policy at Kellogg College, Oxford)
The expectations for this COP16 in Cancun were not so high this time around - and this has lessened the political pressure. However this also seems to suggest momentum is slipping away in my opinion.
However, that is not to say the meeting will be of no importance. Details of the current climate regime will surely be worked on and - and with a lot of luck, even a COP-decision could be hammered out. Unfortunately, it is better not to hold your breath for any ground-breaking and globally- binding deal for a post-Kyoto world. In my opinion, unless major shifts in political standpoints emerge, the Kyoto Protocol may just have to remain as the torch-bearer agreement, which will not have a global replicate in the near term. This is not to say that climate change will not be tackled at all, just that the main arenas could shift elsewhere away from the UN system of decision-making procedures.
Overall, Cancun will probably turn out to be a pale and weak cousin of Copenhagen's and may witness the start of the diminishing importance of COP-meetings. It can offer an opportunity as well: this meeting may encourage subnational actors and individual nation states to act on their own. After all, the UNFCCC is not the only kid in the playground !
Submitted on 29/11/2010 by Diana Mastraci, University of OxfordLast December, it seemed the whole world was anxiously and eagerly anticipating the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This week, 29th November, just days before the world’s representatives gather in Cancun (COP16) Mexico, for the 2010 UN Climate Change Summit, many believe that the steam and smell of the climate change negotiations have evaporated.
Perhaps they are right. Certainly there is not much coverage in the world’s media. However the momentum and intricacies of last year’s frenzied debates, however, were brought back to life for me on 12 November, when I took part in a Europaeum workshop with 17 other young graduates and scholars drawn from eight universities – and from more than a dozen nationalities, at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, as a prelude to this coming round of the global debate on the environment in Cancun.