Climate Change Talks shaping up: From Copenhagen, Bonn, Tianjin to Cancun and onwards

The frustrations and disappointments of the previous climate change talks in Copenhagen have reverberated in the opening until the last day of the succeeding Bonn and Tianjin climate talks.

What happened in Copenhagen last year?

With much anticipation, the Copenhagen’s 15th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) finally presented its conference output, the Copenhagen Accord. Supposedly, the output would be the successor of the Kyoto Protocol which is set to expire on 2012. But the Copenhagen Accord appears to have the elements of an agreement on virtual and conceptual generalities, to the dismay of the developing countries which will be most affected and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The group of developing countries wanted a definitive and concrete goals and pledges to arrest the worsening climate change and help them cope with the impacts of it by providing technology and funding.

Two years ago, the Bali Action Plan set the 2-year roadmap and process of finalizing a binding agreement which is now the Copenhagen Accord. Back then, the expectation was high to be able to achieve such goal of reducing greenhouse gases emissions which cause global warming.

Even lowering the expectation could not calm down the dissatisfaction on the process the Accord was drafted in its current form. Delegates to the COP15 from the industrializing countries were marginalized from the basic decision-making of an accord that was deemed too important for the current and future generations.

The Bonn talks tried to set things in perspective, taking on the experiences and progress of the previous talks. It attempted to draw a framework of acceptable points by all parties. It recognized that the process and output must be owned by countries involved, not by the few which can set the roadmap of the world based on their interests, and not for the common good of all.

The Tianjin talks placed China, said to be the largest greenhouse-gas emitter,  in the global stage to showcase its efforts to cut emissions. It was reported that much of the blame on the collapse of talks in Copenhagen was of China's doing due to its disagreement on having mechanism to verify emission cuts. Its hosting of the talks was seen as taking on the challenge of being a global important player by leading the world in the investments on renewable energy projects, and of cutting emissions by closing thousands of polluting old factories.

And the Cancun talks at the end of this year will make the progress more pronounced by having a draft of a general framework of acceptable points where negotiation of details can start. Yes, there are already common and accepted points of the draft, such as that emissions have to be cut, developed countries will help technologically and financially developing countries to mitigate and adapt to impacts of climate change, and the urgency of the need to have a binding agreement to succeed Kyoto Protocol. The devilish details which again can hold the talks hostage are on what year levels should be the benchmark of emission cuts, what acceptable mechanisms can verify these cuts, and the sustainability of technological and financial assistance to developing countries.

Let us not forget that we are doing this more for the future generations and poor who will carry the brunt of our decisions and actions today. Let us not fail them. They are looking up on us. This is our opportunity to show our sincerity and responsibility to care and compassion for one Earth we have and will pass on to the next generations.

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