Last year in Copenhagen, international negotiations to combat climate change fractured. And the rifts have not healed. Developing countries want recognition of the long history of greenhouse gas pollution by developed nations. And they remain skeptical of the Copenhagen Accord. Small island states and others on the frontlines of the consequences of climate change want hard targets and the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. And the U.S. stands alone, not least because even the promises it has made in the past are unmatched by any domestic legislation to cut carbon dioxide.
At least the negotiations are happening in balmy Cancun, right?
Actually, progress of sorts is being made. Chinese and Indian negotiators have indicated a willingness to consider international monitoring and verification of greenhouse gas reduction efforts. Developed countries have begun to lay out a plan for funding technology transfer and adaptation efforts. There might even be an agreement to stop deforestation.
But, the landmark Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and even Japan—the country that gave it its name—opposes renewing it. That's probably okay given that some countries that signed it ultimately ignored their commitment. Ahem, Canada.
Whatever comes out of Cancun at the end of this coming week, as UN climate chief Christiana Figueres noted at the conference, it is no doubt "pathetically insufficient" compared to what's needed to begin to slow and reverse climate change. And the temperature keeps rising.