This week world leaders are meeting in Cancun for ‘COP-16’, the latest of the summits convened to negotiate the global response to climate change through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Last year’s summit in Copenhagen produced important steps forward, including 115 countries recognising the scientific case for limiting climate change to 2 degrees centigrade, all major carbon-emitting countries accepting moral responsibility for reducing emissions, and the agreement from developed countries to commit funding to support the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change in poor countries. However, the summit was widely viewed as a major disappointment as no binding agreement could be reached on a treaty to restrict emissions.
Will Cancun be any better? Initial indications are that it probably won’t be. Many developed nations are deliberately lowering expectations and warning that a deal won’t be reached. Secretary of State for Climate Change Chris Huhne said on Monday:
‘We won’t get a full binding deal in Cancun, but people and businesses around the world will be watching and expecting to see us prepare the ground. This means making progress on issues such as financial assistance to help developing countries deal with climate change, tackling deforestation, bringing the promises made in the Copenhagen Accord into the formal UN process, and agreeing a system to make sure countries live up to their commitments to take action on emissions.’
While progress in these areas would be a significant step forward for protecting the poor, such commitments are insufficient and fall short of tackling climate change.
Although the news from the summit is disappointing, there are bright points. The Munich Climate Insurance Initiative continues to influence the negotiations by holding a side event to answer delegates’ questions on risk adaptation and microinsurance. These items form part of the current negotiating text and could provide vital lifelines for poor farmers affected by climate change. Recent news of investment in microinsurance from the International Finance Corporation (which we reported on last week) is also encouraging, as it will expand coverage and set important precedents for the parties in the climate negotiations. The news demonstrates that microinsurance really works and can be a crucial part of the global response to climate change.
While much more effort is needed from leaders around the world to ensure we can prevent devastating climate change and can protect the poor and vulnerable from the unavoidable consequences we have already created, the good news about microinsurance is an important bright point.