What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, we were predicting certain doom for any chance of an agreement and today, we’ve got an agreement that most observers say is better than anyone expected.
Here’s what’s being said this afternoon about the agreement:
Writing for The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin provides a summary of the major provisions of the deal, which creates a Green Fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change; encapsulates current emissions reductions commitments from both developed and industrialized nations and recognizes that further reductions need to be made; and outlines how developing nations can be paid for maintaining healthy forests through market-based and non-market-based mechanisms.
She includes a quote from Karl Hood, Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development which nicely sums up the general feeling around Cancun: “We know it’s not a done deal. But we can still say we have left Cancun with something workable which we can all be pleased with.” (The Washington Post)
John Broder of The New York Times rightly notes that the agreement is modest and sums up how the United States and China came to a compromise over emissions verifications:
Although the steps were fairly modest and do not require the broad changes that scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change, the result was a major step forward for a process that has stumbled badly in recent years.
China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, appeared to have agreed Friday night on a formula for ensuring that all nations were adhering to their pledges to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The accord sets standards for reporting actions each country is taking to cut its emissions, with requirements for detailed statements of data, economic assumptions and methodology. That seemed to satisfy American concerns that countries could manipulate the emissions and economic data they submitted for international review.
Richard Black for the BBC also dives into the U.S.-China compromise and sums up how compromises came down on a second round of commitments from the Kyoto protocol. He also calls the Cancun agreement “the chihuahua that roared,” which is pretty awesome:
The US partly achieved its main priorities – giving the World Bank first go at running the big new fund, and having some degree of international monitoring on China’s emissions – but the wording also allows China and other developing countries to escape with their sovereignty, as they see it, unaffected.
And Japan and Russia have been given a way to slide away from the Kyoto Protocol while maintaining the pledges they made around the Copenhagen summit.
Writing for for Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard ruminates on what it means for the international process:
The greatest success may have been that the Mexican organizers, particularly Espinosa, were able to restore faith in the process for most parties, which had been compromised in Copenhagen as process debates paralyzed much of the negotiations, multiple draft of text were drafted in informal groups, and the final political agreement was crafted by a small group of leaders and not approved by the entire body. Much of what is included in the 32-page agreement for a new climate agreement is based on the spare Copenhagen Accord, formalizing it within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The summit, though, seemed to renew enthusiasm for the process and optimism that a global agreement on climate change will live to fight another day.
Finally, Brad Johnson for Think Progress’s The Wonk Room celebrates the agreement, but notes that it is just a start of a generation-long struggle to solve and adapt to the climate-change problem:
The first lesson of the Cancun talks is that the governments of the world can in fact work together on global warming, even though decoupling civilization from greenhouse pollution is a herculean task. However, the second lesson is that their leadership only gets humanity so far. Only the full mobilization of the present generation can overcome the institutional barriers to change and protect our fragile civilization from the raging climate system our pollution has created. The Cancun compact has restored hope around the world, but now the actual work has to begin.
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