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Cancún summit gives just breathing time

12/13/2010 - The climate summit of Cancún is over – its outcome got mixed reviews. “The patient ‘World Climate Aggreement’ has been kept alive, but no real therapy has been agreed upon”, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Studies (PIK), told the leading German press agency dpa.“I am happy that trust in the negotiation process has been rebuilt”, he said, referring to the much debated outcome of the previous summit in Copenhagen. But the result of Cancún, he said, gives just some breathing time. “All substantial issues have been postponed to 2011.”

The next climate summit  is scheduled for Durban, South Africa, in twelve months. “The good spirit of Cancún”, Schellnhuber said, “has to be underpinned now”. Climate science shows how risks will grow if emissions of greenhouses gases are not reduced. The parties in Cancún did not agree on a binding global reduction scheme.

The planned Green Climate Fund and a fund for adaptation “give reasons for hope”, Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist and vice director of the PIK, said in an interview with Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung which was picked up by press agencies. This kind of institution-building counts, he said, it is one of the positive elements of the agreement. In the long run, it could lead to creating a global carbon bank. Moreover, the creation of those funds “show developing countries that the industrialized countries are willing to support their efforts against climate change”.

The Cancún summit is stabilizing expectations of agents worldwide. This is one outcome that should not be underestimated, Edenhofer said. Investors get the signal that the climate issue remains on the table, that emission reductions become more likely, and many of them will act accordingly. “The management of expectations is enormously important.”

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