UN climate change summit kicks off in Cancún

The latest round of UN climate change negotiations (COP16) begins today in Cancún, Mexico. Representatives from 193 countries will meet over the next fortnight, in hopes of securing an international deal on climate change. Several world leaders including the US president and UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, will not be attending the conference, amidst worsening claims that developed countries are not committed to creating the ‘green growth’ economic model required to tackle climate change.

It is widely thought that Cancun will fail to produce a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. However, key issues on the table at COP16 include the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme, and international climate finance, for adaptation in developing nations.

The Energy and Climate Change secretary, Chris Huhne, will join the second week of talks, having already downplayed hopes of reaching any legally binding agreement. In a statement to the Guardian last week, the secretary warned that: “The objective is to reinvigorate the talks. Success means getting the world to within shouting distance of a deal, keeping the show on the road and making practical progress on areas like forestry, finance and reduction commitments”. However, the prime minister has stated that Britain would act unilaterally if a deal could not be reached, in a letter to the Observer published yesterday. The UK will be pushing for more ambitious targets in the EU-moving towards at least a 30% cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 – targets which could also be economically beneficial across the European bloc.