11/30/2010, 00.00
ASIA - UN

Global climate summit begins in Cancun, with few hopes

Climate change hits the countries and peoples of Asia and Africa particularly hard. The Mexican president asks delegates to transcend national interests. One study predicts a rise in temperature between now and 2060 of four degrees Celsius, with dangerous consequences.

Cancun (AsiaNews / Agencies) – One year on from the disappointing Copenhagen summit on the environment, the international community is meeting again, this time in Cancun, in an attempt to regain credibility and revive negotiations to address climate change. Out of more than 190 countries invited, only 132 were represented at the opening ceremony yesterday November 29. "Climate change is already a reality for us," said Mexican President Felipe Calderon, quoting abnormally heavy rains and hurricanes that hit his country, after the great drought of 2009. He added: "In these two weeks the world will have their eyes on you ... it would be a tragedy not be able to transcend national interests." The summit will close December 10, 2010. As of December 7 the delegations of negotiators will be reached by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Energy of the respective countries.

In the worst case scenario envisaged, the global temperature could rise by four degrees Celsius by 2060, and it takes 270 billion U.S. dollars annually just to combat the rise in sea levels, according to recent studies on climate change. Such a change in the lifetime of many who are young now, is twice the limit set by 140 countries at the summit organized by the United Nations last year in Copenhagen, and will result in disastrous consequences on water resources and food in many areas of the globe. This study, published November 28, 2010, on the eve of the summit in Cancun, said that few researchers have considered the impact of a rise of four degrees Celsius over pre-industrial economies. "In many areas - coastal cities, agriculture, water resources, ecosystems and the impact of migration will be much greater" than that provided in Copenhagen, writes Mark New, University of Oxford. Other studies describe "a pragmatic estimate" forecasting a rise in sea level by half a meter to two meters in the century that has started if the temperature rises to four degrees. Other consequences might be the disappearance of ice from the Arctic in the summer, and the gradual drying of the Amazon forest. The construction of dams, Dutch style, to defend the coast would cost 270 billion U.S. dollars per year, according to a study. The populations most at risk are those living on islands and in the large deltas of Asia and Africa.

In Cancun, however, there does not seem to be an objective to seek a binding global agreement for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol, which set specific stakes in the reduction of greenhouse gases to industrialized countries (except U.S.), expires. The ambitions are more modest: UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres called for " a balanced outcome that could serve a basis for other agreements".

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