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Back on track, but a long way still to go

By Sarah Whittington | 13 December 2010

After two long weeks of negotiations between world leaders, and relentless campaigning by charities and NGOs around the globe, agreement has finally been reached at the climate change talks in Cancun.

Countries have agreed to establish a Green Climate Fund for developing countries and have thrown a lifeline for a more comprehensive deal to be reached at next year’s talks that will take place in South Africa.

Mohamed Adow, Senior Adviser on Global Advocacy at Christian Aid, is cautiously optimistic, saying 'Copenhagen derailed the world's effort to solve the climate crisis but here in Cancun, negotiators have just about heaved it back on track.’

However, it leaves the future of the Kyoto Protocol still hanging in the balance and countries need to go much further if the world’s poorest people are to be protected against climate change.

Watch Christian Aid’s senior climate justice adviser Sol Oyuela’s reaction to the outcome of the talks below:

Stalling on Kyoto

Kyoto is the only international treaty that exists to ensure rich countries – those most responsible for causing climate change - cut their carbon emissions in line with what the science demands. 

Dispute between countries on its future has been the abiding theme of the conference after Japan announced it would not be signing up to a second commitment period after 2012. 

This caused wide spread condemnation both in Mexico and across the world.

Throughout the negotiations, Christian Aid campaigned hard for countries to sign up to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Time for Climate Justice bannerFrom participating in negotiations and events at the UN talks, to leading lobbies in Mexico and the UK, we fought to keep this treaty alive for the sake of the world’s poorest people who are increasingly suffering from the damaging impacts of climate change.

A compromise was finally reached to continue discussions but the future of the Kyoto protocol remains in jeopardy.

Although countries recognise that emission pledges are not sufficient, another concern is that the Cancun conclusion is silent on how far global emissions must be reduced to keep the temperature rise within safe levels.

Show us the money

Although there has been agreement to establish a Green Climate Fund for developing countries, there are no details on where this money will come from and there is also concern about the role the World Bank might play because of its poor record of protecting people and the environment. 

This is not the fair, ambitious and binding deal the world needs but agreement here sends a strong signal that the world is ready to move forward and is a stepping stone to a deal in South Africa.

It is now left for leaders to find the political will to ensure significant progress is made in the coming year.

What you can do

Sign up to our International Photo Petition is a visual message to the world's most powerful decision-makers, calling for a fair and meaningful approach to tackling climate chaos.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, it's not too late to call on the government to deliver on David Cameron's pledge to make this government the 'greenest yet'. Email environment secretary Caroline Spelman.

Get the latest from Christian Aid and our global campaign partners via the Time for Climate Justice website.  

 About the author

Sarah Whittington

Sarah Whittington manages Christian Aid's climate change campaign