Opinion Brief

Climate summit: Will Cancun succeed where Copenhagen failed?

After last year's disastrous talks, negotiators are giving it another go in Mexico

Negotiators from 192 countries kicked off this year's United Nations climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, on Monday, hoping to revive climate talks after last year's disastrous conference in Copenhagen. Unlike the 2009 summit, which had aimed for a broad international treaty on fighting global warming, the Cancun meeting will focus on smaller steps, such as establishing a fund to help poor countries adopt environmentally-friendly technologies and formalizing targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Can the Cancun summit make a difference? (Watch an al Jazeera report about the summit)

Absolutely. This could be a turning point: Cancun could be the place where "a global deal is put more within our grasp," says Lucy Brinicombe at Britain's Guardian. After Copenhagen, critics said the U.N. was too big to get anything done. But if negotiators at Cancun can determine how to raise $100 billion a year for a "fair climate fund" to help poor nations fight global warming, they will prove the naysayers wrong.
"Cancun climate talks are too big to fail"

The Cancun talks will fail: "Cancun will be as useless as Copenhagen was," says Derek Scissors at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog, "and for the same principal reason: Chinese coal." There is simply no way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in any meaningful way without getting China to slash its use and production of coal. China insists it's going green, but it has "done nothing at all" to cut back on coal use, and until it does climate talks are doomed to fail.
"Climate change is still about Chinese coal"

The important thing is doing better than Copenhagen: Expectations are low for Cancun, says Emma Woollacott at TG Daily, and that's probably a good thing. Negotiators there could accomplish more than in Copenhagen by focusing on "various smaller issues," such as establishing a fund to help "protect tropical forests." This "at least has a reasonable likelihood of being achieved," and even limited success will quiet voices "grumbling" that U.N. climate talks are useless.
"Leaders gather for Cancun climate summit"

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