Copenhagen wasn’t the end. Another year, another COP. But what a contrast. Compared to the hype and hope of last year’s event, the build-up to Cancun 2010 is remarkably understated. The Economist is a lonely voice among major international newspapers in leading with climate change this week. And their message is muted: Climate change is happening – fast; these negotiations are going nowhere – slowly; and the world must get used to it.
Is there a more hopeful message? Would anybody be listening if there was? I share the frustration of Johann Hari from the Guardian. Climate is yesterday’s news, it seems, despite floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in Moscow and, yes, even perhaps a second white Christmas in a row for London. Is this not enough to make us sit up and take notice?
Clearly not. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Governments are doing their best to limit even the modest hopes of the Mexican organizers. China’s foreign ministry has reiterated its opposition to any hint of aid-linked climate funding, let alone legally-binding commitments on its part. And the new political climate in the US is hardly conducive to progress.
But Mexico does want a REDD COP. And it might still get its wish. There will be fewer prominent civil society protests, this time round, to distract negotiators from the task at hand. In part, Cancun is just too far, and too expensive, for most of the Europe-based lobbying outfits. But clever scheduling also helps. My favourite forum of the year, the REDD+ Partnership, is holding its multi-stakeholder workshop as I write, three days before the negotiations officially start. I received my invite last week (thanks, guys), just a little too late to change my travel plans. So perhaps not too many NGOs will be present at this meeting. But they are certainly on their way in force and, armed with Greenpeace’s latest report on Indonesia’s REDD+ strategy, they will demand answers.
Despite appearances, there is still plenty at stake (see Cancun Dead Ahead for REDD, below). We’ll keep you posted over the coming fortnight.
Posted by Ben Vickers