The United Nations climate change talks in Cancún have concluded with a package of decisions to help countries advance towards a low-emissions future, delivering what the world body's top officials have hailed as a victory in the battle against one of today's biggest challenges.
The outcome is an “important success for a world much in need of it,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued on Saturday, following the conclusion of the two-week meeting.
“Governments came together in common cause, for the common good, and agreed on a way forward to meet the defining challenge of our time.”
Dubbed the “Cancún Agreements,” the decisions include formalizing mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to protect the world's forests, which account for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions.
Delegates meeting at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also agreed to ensure no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the Convention that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whose first commitment period is due to expire in 2012.
Agreement was also reached on establishing a fund for long-term climate financing to support developing countries, and bolstering technology cooperation and enhancing vulnerable populations' ability to adapt to the changing climate.
“The outcomes in Cancun have given us important tools. Now we must use them, and strengthen our efforts in line with the scientific imperative for action,” stated Mr. Ban.
Welcoming the agreements reached, UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres said nations have shown that they can work together to reach consensus on a common cause.
“Cancún has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored,” said Ms. Figueres, who is the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.
“Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time.”
The next Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is scheduled to be held in South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.