Climate Talks Begin in Tianjin, China – Countdown to COP16

With less than two month before the start of the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, the latest round of preparatory climate talks began today in Tianjin, China.
Following is the opening press statement from UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres:

Press release from the UNFCCC
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres called on governments meeting in Tianjin, China, to accelerate their search for common ground to achieve strong action on climate change. With less than two months to go before the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, she said that a concrete outcome in December was urgently needed to
restore faith in the ability of Parties to take the negotiations forward.

“Governments have restored their own trust in the process, but they must ensure that the rest of the world believes in a future of ever increasing government commitment to combat climate change,” she said. “Governments need to agree on what is doable in Cancún, and how it will be achievable in a politically balanced manner,” she added.

Ms. Figueres said there is a growing convergence in the negotiations that Cancún could deliver a balanced package of decisions that define the pillars of action to address climate change.

Such a politically balanced package of decisions could include a new global framework to help countries adapt to the already inevitable changes to the
climate system, the launch of a new mechanism to drive faster deployment of technology to developing nations, a decision to establish a new fund to oversee the long-term money raised for the specific climate needs of developing nations, and a decision on early and large-scale action to protect forests and the livelihoods of those who live in them.

“The agreements that can be reached in Cancun may not be exhaustive in their details, but as a balanced package they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short term as well as set the stage for long term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner,” Ms. Figueres said.

Ms. Figueres acknowledged there were areas of political disagreements, mainly over how and when to agree on a fair share of responsibilities of present and future action on climate change, but said they were not insurmountable.

“Governments seem ready to discuss difficult issues. Now they must bridge differences in order to reach a tangible outcome in Cancún,” she said.

For example, governments can formalise the many pledges and promises they have made to cut and limit emissions, along with providing clarity on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

During the next six days of the Tianjin climate meeting, government delegates will discuss negotiating text under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). This negotiating group, comprising all 194 Parties to the UNFCCC, is tasked to deliver a long-term global approach to the climate challenge.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) is meeting in parallel to discuss the emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012.

Ms. Figueres said that this year’s floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and mudslides in China had been a wake up call to the dangers of extreme climate.

“The bottom line is that it is in no one’s interest to delay action. Quite on the contrary, it is in everyone’s ultimate interest to accelerate action in order to minimize negative impacts on all,” she said.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Tianjin is being attended by around three thousand participants from more than 176 countries, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions. The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, will take place 29 November to 10 December.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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