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Global Climate Change Talks Resume at CancĂșn

News item submitted by Flora O'Brien
News item dated 29 Nov 2010


At the sunny beach resort of Cancún, Mexico, environmental ministers from 193 countries have gathered for the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  After the disastrous outcome of the talks in Copenhagen last December, COP-16 will be pivotal in determining whether the global mission to combat climate change is to succeed. 

The greatest achievement of the Copenhagen conference in December 2009 was merely a two page document, void of legally binding policies, which ultimately declared a single aim to limit future temperature increases by 2°C. Talks dissolved after developing nations complained that rich countries were not doing enough to cut carbon emissions. Thus a lesson has hopefully been learnt: in order to progress in the fight against climate change, the burden must be shared fairly, with developed countries lending financial support to help poorer nations cut CO2 emissions.  However, with the gloomy cloud of the recession hanging over us, world leaders may be less willing to do so.   Yet it must be done, as the environmental situation is steadily worsening.

Hopes that the economic downturn may have had a positive effect in terms of energy usage decreasing were recently dashed following the announcement that China’s CO2 emissions rose by 8% in 2009.  Last week, the Met Office released a statement that 2010 is set to have been one of the top 3 hottest years on record.  Then today it emerged that scientists have predicted that the average global temperature will rise by 4°C in as little as 45 years time.  Such widespread evidence cannot be ignored.  Nevertheless, there is very little likelihood of COP-16 resulting in legally binding policies.  Instead, we can realistically hope for smaller agreements to be drawn up, which may still prove to be a vital stepping stone along the path to creating policies where the fight against climate change and poverty are both incorporated as one. One possible outcome of the conference is that the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) initiative will be agreed to, which would see countries being financially rewarded for reducing deforestation rates.

The main aim of the Frontier Costa Rica project is to investigate the impact of climate change on the biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula, with a particular focus on amphibian and sea turtle populations.  Such work is essential in order to predict and prevent potentially irreversible effects of global warming.

Read more about the Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtle Conservation project