Background to the 16th United Nations Climate Change Conference
The key objective of the recent UN Climate Change Conference at Cancun, Mexico (otherwise known as the 16th Conference of the Parties, or simply ‘COP-16’) was to reach agreement on a global climate treaty, capable of averting dangerous climate change. A new treaty is required to succeed the Kyoto Protocol when it expires at the end of 2012 and which, though flawed, remains the most comprehensive piece of climate legislation.
With 2010 among the warmest years on record, and with increasingly dire predictions about the impacts of climate change upon people and nature worldwide, there is near-universal agreement on the need for urgent action. Despite this, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) discussions have been beset with delays and disagreements. As a result, expectations of achieving any real progress toward a Kyoto-successor at Cancun were muted at best.
What COP-16 means for World Land Trust
One issue high on the agenda at Cancun was the critical need to address emissions from global forest loss and degradation.
The World Land Trust (WLT) was looking to negotiators to advance a global framework on what has come to be known as ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’, or REDD+. Widespread forest loss in the tropics is a leading cause of species extinctions as well as carbon emissions, and excellent progress toward an international REDD+ framework at Cancun is very good news for conservation as well as for our climate.
Negotiators must now address weaknesses in the emerging REDD+ framework to ensure forest dependent people do not lose out and that forest biodiversity is safeguarded. As the Carbon Balanced Programme at the WLT has successfully shown, REDD+ projects can safeguard local livelihoods, save threatened wildlife and prevent carbon emissions. We urge negotiators to urgently complete and implement a global REDD+ framework that will enable such successes to be realised across the tropics.