Modest advances made at Cancún climate talks, forests and finance among winners

After talks in Cancún predictably went hours over their scheduled Friday-evening end, the United Nations climate conference approved, early this morning, a modest package of climate initiatives that includes preserving forests and creating an international green fund.

Jennifer Haverkamp, managing director of EDF's international climate program, said the package of climate initiatives was "modest, but important":

The U.N. has now put its seal of approval on compensating countries for protecting their forests.  And Mexico’s skillful leadership here has helped to rebuild confidence in the U.N.  process.

However, not all issues were decided in the Cancún talks.  To reach agreements, the conference postponed some of the toughest decisions, but pledged to make progress on them before next year's meeting in Durban, South Africa.  Haverkamp said this morning's outcome:

represents only a fraction of what’s needed.  Despite the best efforts by many countries, glaciers are still melting faster than this process is moving.

Key components of the Cancún Agreements

The package of initiatives agreed to this morning, referred to as the "Cancún Agreements", includes provisions for:

  • Implementing key elements needed to compensate countries for protecting their forests under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).  The initiative includes environmental safeguards for preserving threatened forests and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. The conference agreed to allow state-level REDD+ programs for a limited time, with a clear goal of establishing nationwide programs.
  • Creating a Green Climate Fund to help developing countries find ways to reduce their emissions and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
  • Transparency and accountability. The conference agreed to obligations and the development of guidelines for accurately accounting for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and for countries' financing commitments.

This is part of a series from EDF's experts, who are blogging regularly from the U.N. climate conference in Cancún on EDF's Climate Talks blog.

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