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Waving or drowning? : The legal impacts of the Cancun climate negotiations

Gita Parihar

elni Review 2011, Issue 1,  pp. 21-26.

Negotiators from all over the world gathered in the beach resort of Cancun in December 2010 in the hope of rescuing the international climate regime from the ignominy of the failures of the Conference in Copenhagen. Their mission has been widely lauded as a success - but was it?
This article examines the decisions taken in Cancun and considers their legal impacts. It considers the decision relating to the Kyoto Protocol and its implications, as well as the decision in the Long Term Cooperative Action (or LCA) track, which focuses on the “full, effective and sustained” implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The discussion highlights the fact that many of the most contentious issues in the negotiations have been left for Durban. After touching on the question of whether agreement was reached at all, the article concludes that moving all significant progress in the negotiations into the LCA track whilst failing to conclude a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will result in a severe weakening of the international climate regime and must be resisted. It also highlights the large gap between the targets on the table and those demanded by science and equity as well as going on to consider the implications of this in practical terms.

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