As yet, COP16 has managed to steer clear of any high profile fallouts. However, as the conference progresses, members are keen to avoid a repeat of COP15's unremarkable outcome. As the first day of the second week of climate change talks drew to a close in Cancun, one word was emerging as pivotal to the chances of reaching a comprehensive global agreement: balance.

As rumors regarding the existence of a "draft text" that incorporates the demands of developing countries began to circulate over the weekend, it soon became clear that one of the biggest achievements of COP16 so far is that world leaders have managed to avoid another Copenhagen-style high profile walkout. Many feared that the arrival of such a text (which also includes a rather ominous option over the endorsement of a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol) would prove too much for those nations not used to this level of "progress." However, only so many COPs can fail to produce any kind of significant outcome before the UN's fight against climate change loses all legitimacy.

The lingering presence of the unremarkable COP15 summit, and the seemingly trivial Copenhagen Accord, has created a rather frantic atmosphere in Mexico. The US and EU want a balanced and fair deal for all, China wants non-punitive principles, and developing nations want further acknowledgment from the West that the scale of emissions cuts should reflect the scale of historic emissions contributions. What no one wants, however, is stagnation and confrontation.

Balance has been the key word for the US. The world's second biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions wants to see a genuinely "balanced package," primarily in the case of greater transparency from all nations in regards to emissions reductions. This has long been a sticking point for China, which feels that any global agreement should be non-intrusive and should respect the sovereignty of every nation.

The EU is in full support of the balanced package sought by the US. Both feel that, without it, deals such as a global fund to help poorer countries reduce emissions and adopt climate change measures cannot be achieved. China, however, is unlikely to agree, on the grounds that there is an inherent imbalance in the idea of two historically huge producers of carbon now calling the shots for those less equipped to develop without much-needed fossil fuels.

The key to success at Cancun will be balancing the ambitions, resources, and political conditions of each country when agreeing on a global deal to reduce emissions. However, in order for this to happen, we will need to see the emergence of a new key word: compromise.

Source : Datamonitor , Energy & Sustainability

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