Michael Wilks: the last day of the Cancún conference

The end of any international meeting is always fraught with uncertainty, and compromises are more likely as deadlines loom. On this last full day, Cancún looks like being very difficult to spin other than at a level that takes a deep sigh of relief that any structure exists on which to build further agreements ahead of the next COP in Durban.

Generally, the language of the draft text is weak, and full of “takes notes” and “considers,” hardly phrases on which to base the future of the planet.  More specifically, there is a strong element of denial about the size of the “gigatonne gap” within the EU team, the Japanese are still holding out against an extension of their Kyoto commitments, and the US is tepid on the financial commitments needed to make much of this happen.

In the meantime, we have had meetings with European MEPs, and with the EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, and worked with WHO and some negotiators to make a final attempt to bring specific adaptations on health into the final text.  A group of African nations is leading on this, and we’ll know tomorrow if our efforts have been successful.

Most of the ire of NGOs is being directed at Japan, since a failure to extend its Kyoto commitments represents a major threat to the future of a UNFCCC process that will be inclusive enough to justify its existence.  The US is believed to be relaxed about this, believing in the power of local or regional agreements to solve some of the intractable global issues.  So many delegations appear to have forgotten that “global” warming is just that – “global.”  As one protester’s banner put it, “there is no planet B.”

As individuals, there is something we can all do.  Please go to http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/index-e.html  and register a request that Japan extends its Kyoto commitments and stays within the UNFCCC process.

Michael Wilks is attending the Cancún meeting as part of Healthcare Without Harm (HCWH), a health professional and environmental group.