CLIMATE CHANGE | Building Blocks, Bridges, and Compromises


The road to COP16 was a slow one this morning. We had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as lanes were reduced to allow Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his entourage to travel to Moon Palace for the Opening of COP16. The Opening Ceremony and Plenary Sessions were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and after two and a half hours we were still on the bus about half way through the Opening Ceremony.

Upon (finally!) arriving at the Cancunmesse we could not wait to get off the bus. The Convention center was filled with exhibitions such as that of the U.S. Center, where we played with some stellar graphic climate technology that allowed us to spin the planet at the touch of a finger examining varying sea levels, snow and cloud cover, as well as glacial movements – instantly and on the world scale. The U.S. Center seems to be taking an educational approach at COP16 and appears to be well prepared to impress the rest of the world with its technology. What I want to know is how the knowledge gained from this technology will be put to action. We’re excellent at gathering data and our resources surpass those of many nations at COP16 but how will our technology relate to the necessity of creating legally binding climate policy, and will we respond adequately to what the technology is telling us?

In the afternoon, I attended the meeting for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). The AGW-KP reflects on the Kyoto Protocol assessing how it fared and deliberating as to whether to extend it, and if so in what form. Nations expressed their aspirations for the conference and we heard from the World’s more industrialized nations regarding their aspirations for a new climate policy that is legally binding.

Mexico stated that we cannot delay agreement, and that support for developing nations will be essential to our success. Venezuela discussed the necessity of strong infrastructure, concrete political will and the need for a legally binding agreement in South Africa at COP17, which will take place as the Kyoto Protocol expires. Lesotho, speaking on behalf of the least developing countries (LDCs) stressed the critical importance of financing for LDCs. Yemen stated that we cannot afford to leave Cancun empty handed and that the process here in Cancun must be open and transparent. The general focus of each nation was on building blocks, bridges, and the need for compromises – but also the need for legally binding climate policy in order to move forward.

State Senator Ellen Anderson, Representative Kate Knuth and a delegation of University of Minnesota students are attending the COP 16 conference in Cancun, and students will share the experience with TC Daily Planet readers through blog post from the conference.