10Smith School of Enterprise and the EnvironmentSmith
EnvironmentSmith School of Enterprise and the Environment11Chapter 3Copenhagen and CancunChapter 3: Copenhagen and CancunThe Cancun Outcomes in ContextThe outcomes of the last COP at Cancun can only really be understood in the context of the Copenhagen negotiations. This is for two main reasons; first, the Cancun Agreement is largely based upon the key elements of the Copenhagen Accord. Second, the reaction to the Agreement is largely due to the differences in build-up between the Copenhagen and Cancun negotiations and the disappointment that resulted from the outcomes of Copenhagen. While the actual outcomes of the two conferences are not substantially different, the reaction to that of Copenhagen in most cases was one of extreme disappointment. The outcome from Cancun, on the other hand, has been heralded as a veritable success. There were notable differences in build up between the two COP meetings. Prior to the Copenhagen negotiations, expectations in the media were raised to an impossibly high level. Copenhagen was therefore perceived by many as a failure. Curiously, many people (outside the media) could see clearly in advance of the meeting that a fully-formed legal agreement would be unrealistic, the negotiations having failed to progress at the rate necessary to produce any decisive agreement . But the media built up false expectations not in any way dampened by the absence of a much-needed sense of realism from the UNFCCC, or from the Danish Government. With a record attendance of NGO representatives and researchers, the circus atmosphere did little to douse expectations. Despite this, the negotiators did make some productive advances; instead of a legally-binding agreement, the Copenhagen conference produced the Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement which was negotiated by 28 countries in the final days of the conference. But the failure of the Copenhagen conference to produce a legally-binding agreement led some to question the UNFCCC as a forum for decision making. Many negotiators left Copenhagen with a sense that the UNFCCC process was broken . All this did little to build expectations for Cancun and as such anticipation for the outcome was low. The Cancun Agreement that emerged from the COP meeting in comparison was therefore a pleasant surprise for those who had been following the negotiations.The Cancun AgreementsThe Cancun Agreement is based heavily upon the Copenhagen Accord and the pledges made to it following the Copenhagen negotiations. The Copenhagen Accord marked an unprecedented drafting exercise on climate change, but, at only around two and a half pages, contained only twelve operational paragraphs. As this would suggest, the Accord was not strong on detail but represented many delicate and hard-won compromises between competing interests . When the Accord was being negotiated however, other countries were not kept informed of the progress of the negotiating group and the Copenhagen Accord negotiations were conducted separately from the official UNFCCC negotiating groups. When the Accord was revealed to the COP for adoption a small number of states blocked consensus. As a result, the legal status and future of the Copenhagen Accord within the UNFCCC process was unclear .