Climate negotiations begin in Cancun

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The United Nations climate change negotiations get underway in Cancun, Mexico on 29th November, where UK negotiators are striving for progress on issues affecting developed and developing countries.

The meeting is the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UK is looking for Cancun to provide progress on a range of issues important to developing and developed countries, acting as a stepping stone to a legally binding global treaty.

The UK is looking for progress on:

  • Anchoring existing developed and developing country mitigation commitments from the Copenhagen Accord into the formal multilateral UNFCCC process.
  • Setting out how to enhance a measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system.
  • Starting to get the delivery of long-term climate finance working by establishing the Green Fund, building on the conclusions of the Advisory Group on Climate Finance.
  • Agreeing on high collective ambition to reduce the destruction of the world’s forests.
  • Helping developing countries have access to the technology they need to tackle and adapt to climate change.

The UK delegation will be led by the Department of Energy & Climate Change Secretary of State Chris Huhne. John Ashton, the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, will be representing the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

John Ashton shared his hopes for Cancun in a video message recorded in France last week where he emphasises the need for low carbon recovery and growth:

‘We’re about to embark on a major political debate about growth and the sources of growth. Unless we can conduct that debate in a way that establishes low carbon growth at the centre of the growth model then we will fail on climate change.’


‘Politically, the deep challenge is to build a growth model that will give people confidence that they will have prosperity, jobs, competiveness, and at the same time, will be driving a shift in the direction of low carbon growth’.

The COP is the highest body of the UNFCCC and comprises environment ministers from 192 countries who have met once a year since the 1992 Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro. The last COP took place in Copenhagen in 2009. In noting the Copenhagen Accord, countries declared their 2020 targets for reducing their carbon emissions.