Gone is talk of quickly crafting an binding successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which effectively expires in 2012. Yet even diminished goals, the six-day Tianjin climate talks made so little progress that some diplomats openly wondered whether continuing the UNFCCC process was even politically worthwhile.
A few high-profile American executives shared their perspectives on sustainable business. They offered a first-hand view of government shortcomings, the powers and limitations of private sector action, and the role US citizens have played in stymieing the global climate talks.
While the embattled Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have been the leading climate-related news the past couple weeks, of more importance to the international negotiations were two meetings at opposite ends of the globe.
The World Resources Institute recently released updated estimates of the “fast-start” climate mitigation and adaption commitments rich nations made to poor countries after the Copenhagen summit. The headline figures are pretty impressive: Developed nations have set aside an estimated $27.9 billion, a combined total that is only $2 billion shy of the amount they promised between now and 2012.
While everyone else is downplaying expectations for the year-end Cancun climate summit, Mexican negotiators still believe there can be a “spectacular breakthrough.” After the failure of the recent Bonn climate talks to achieve any substantial progress, one has to wonder how Mexico is defining success in Cancun? And more importantly, how does it aim to facilitate that outcome?
At the beginning of the climate conference in Bonn, Germany, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called on delegates to do what was “politically possible” and make “incremental” progress. By most accounts, the Bonn talks fell short of even these modest goals. Rifts between poor countries and rich nations that were papered over in Copenhagen reopened leaving delegates with more to debate at the final climate conference in Tianjin, China before the year-end Cancun summit and less common ground from which to begin discussions.
Ed note: we are pleased to introduce Corbin Hiar to our roster of contributors. Corbin is a journalist at PBS MediaShift. He has covered environmental issues for Mother Jones, The New Republic, The Economist and its sister publication More Intelligent Life and will be covering the international climate talks for Dispatch.