Outcome of the UN Climate Conference in Mexico: small results, but big hopes

The UN Conference on Climate Change held on November 29 - December 11 in the Mexican city of Cancun has brought neither significant results, nor big disappointments. Russia's position over the last year has not changed and has not become more constructive. The Conference adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions stated by countries a year ago. These goals are still too weak to solve the problem of climate change. The Green Climate Fund was agreed to be established for adaptation to climate change. The set of decisions adopted at the conference gives hope for the possibility of a new comprehensive climate agreement.

Conference participants confirmed the primary purpose of the climatic process - to prevent the rise in the average Earth temperature higher than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. At the same time, countries recognize that knowledge about human influence on climate is incomplete. In 2013-2015, on the basis of the next, Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the tasks will be reviewed. Emergent measures may even be required to keep the human-induced temperature rise at 1.5 degrees only.

Targets for reducing emissions, which, according to the decision in Copenhagen a year ago, the country could indicate voluntarily, now are recognized officially. In the framework of the multilateral process, developed countries will draw up plans for low-carbon development and report annually on what has been done. Actions by developing countries to reduce emissions will be also officially recognized and included in a special register, with which they will receive financial and technological assistance from industrialized countries.
The summit decision, in particular, purports that there was no 'gap' in climate regulation after the Kyoto Protocol completion in 2012. In addition, the parties agreed to discuss the possibility of extending the Kyoto Protocol to the second period, the plan bitterly opposed by Russia, Canada and Japan (not to mention the U.S., which remain outside the "Kyoto"). Russia and Japan managed to reach the decision provisions that leave them the possibility to avoid tightening of the Kyoto Protocol commitments.

The establishment of the Green Climate Fund was announced. The "climate" funding shall reach $ 100 billion a year by 2020. In 2010-2012, the funds will amount to 30 billion dollars. The Adaptation Committee will be established, whose task will be to assess and prevent risks, and to make the decisions of damage compensations to the most weak and vulnerable countries.

Governments agreed to strengthen their actions to address deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. The document on accounting boreal forest and different land uses was approved by the conference.

At the same time, the agreement leaves open the question of whether any of the proposed measures, including emission reduction, will be legally binding.

Russia's position has not changed during the year that has elapsed since the Copenhagen climate summit. The head of the Russian delegation, adviser to the President of the Russian Federation on climate change Alexander Bedritsky repeated in his speech in Cancun the former Russia's intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15-25% compared to 1990, which is an actual increase in emissions by 2020 by 10-20%. Also, Russia is not willing to facilitate the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. However, it continues to advocate for the opportunity to transfer unencumbered quotas on greenhouse gas emissions to future agreements. These positions have been criticized (линк на новость от 09.12.2010) by the Russian Socio-Ecological Union and other environmental organizations. The positive point in the official statement of the Russian delegation to the conference is that Russia recognizes its responsibility for climate change, as the world's third largest emitter of CO2. This responsibility must be translated into constructive action by Russia both internationally and domestically.