Now that the dust has settled from the latest round of climate negotiations, it is time to take stock of where we really are and how far we have come. Hopenhagen was the buzz word only a year ago. Through all the political agendas, negotiations and debates - hope shined through. At the end of COP 15, we did not have the outcomes we vied for, but left Copenhagen with an accord which, though fallible, has carried us through the year.
Change is often a (sometimes frustratingly!) slow process and more often than not, carried through one step at a time. So while the ideal conclusion to a world meeting such as the Conference of Parties would be a binding legal contract on all nations - not achieving that can't, to my mind, be simply called a failure. We had small but significant victories at COP15 such as the Copenhagen Accord, REDD+, and even on the Kyoto protocol. And having examined carefully the proceedings of COP16 at Cancun, I believe here too we have taken a step forward.
Most nations agreed that a legally binding agreement is absolutely necessary and many have agreed that they will define and volunteer emission targets to achieve climate change goals, with both industrialized and developing countries required to publish progress reports at regular intervals. I am particularly excited about India's participation - ahead of the conference, India officially published an assessment report about mid-term impact of global warming and climate change. As a first among the developing nations to take this step, I am extremely happy India has taken the lead.
Looking forward, the previously pledged Green Climate Fund - with an annual budget of US$ 100 billion - is now closer to becoming reality. To be managed by the World Bank, the agreement governing this fund looks to enact mechanisms to fight deforestation and deploy clean technology in the developing world. Along with the reform and broadening of the scope of the Clean Development Mechanism, it will act as the boost developing countries need to combat climate change. With an aim to push investments and technology into sustainable emission reduction projects in the developing world, this is most definitely a step in the right direction.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres summed up the Cancun summit most accurately, saying - "The beacon of hope has been reignited...It is not what is ultimately required but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition."
We did not take the big leap and shift the process of change into top gear. But as Ms. Figueres noted, COP16 paves the way forward. And we will, we must, continue down this road to reach a common global agreement - for all the six billion of us. Because there is simply no other choice.