Low Expectations for Climate Talks


This year’s round of negotiations through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicks off next Monday in Cancun. I’ll have more on what to expect there in a piece tomorrow and will be reporting from Cancun. Last year, world leaders headed to talks in Copenhagen with the hope of producing a new global treaty. That didn’t happen, though they did emerge with a non-binding political accord whose fate is still unclear. Now negotiators will decide what comes next.

US climate envoy Todd Stern briefed the foreign press on what to expect on Monday. “It is now widely understood that a legal treaty this year is not in the cards,” said Stern. He emphasized a need to reach agreement on some key components of a deal, rather than on forcing a decision on the total package. “None of this would preclude or prejudge an eventual legal treaty when the time is right, but our view is that we should be making concrete progress now.”

His full remarks are here. An excerpt:

The challenge, I think, before us in Cancun and the one that we have been, frankly, focused on all year is to find a way to build on the progress made last year in the Copenhagen Accord through the direct intervention of many of the world’s leaders, including President Obama. Even though it fell short of what many had hoped for, the accord took an important step forward in addressing climate change. Progress was made on all the key elements of the negotiations, and much of it in direct, face-to-face discussions among our leaders.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.