“The rule of consensus doesn’t mean unanimity”

Cancun closed with a bang, not least because Mexican Foreign Secretary and Cancun talks chief Patricia Espinosa declared that, “The rule of consensus doesn’t mean unanimity.”

Patricia EspinosaThat sentence alone should occupy legal scholars for years to come. Most economists would only applaud. Getting 190-odd countries to agree on anything is extremely difficult. Unanimous consent is almost always out.

If the Espinosa consensus stands, it will certainly insert some new vigor into the UN climate talks. It proved to be crucial to breaking the logjam in Cancun, which would otherwise have been held up by Bolivia as the lone dissenter. (Bolivia is now appealing Espinosa’s decision.)

The building blocks for a global deal are still elusive. Cancun punted on some of the most important issues. Some other crucial ones like Avoiding Deforestation (REDD+) and the basic building blocks for a Green Climate Fund saw some real progress.

Head over to EDF’s Climate Talks blog for a rundown of the most important issues.

In the end Michael Levi has it exactly right:

The Cancun agreement should be applauded not because it solves everything, but because it chooses not to.

It focuses on what the UN does well, and avoids the rest.

That, and the Espinosa consensus—if it withstands Bolivia’s appeal—may well be the most important legacies of Cancun.

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