Cancun, Mexico: The world’s governments approved a modest plan on Saturday to combat climate change, including a new “Green Climate Fund” to help poor nations, after sidelining objections by Bolivia.
“This is a new era of international cooperation on climate change,” Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa told delegates at the end of two weeks of talks that were overshadowed by disputes between rich and poor countries.
The deal, reached at extended overnight talks, comprises the Green Climate Fund, measures to protect tropical forests and ways to share clean energy technologies. It also reaffirms a goal of raising an annual $100 billion in aid for poor countries by 2020.
Espinosa banged down her gavel on the deal despite objections by Bolivia, which said the plan demanded too little of developed nations in cutting greenhouse gases. Bolivia said approval of the package violated a need for consensus.
“I urge you to reconsider,” Bolivian delegate Pablo Solon told Espinosa. After repeated anti-capitalist speeches by Solon, Espinosa retorted that Bolivia’s objections would be noted in a final report but could not derail a deal by 190 nations.
The plan was unlocked after delegates simply put off until 2011 a dispute between rich and poor nations over the future of the UN’s Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto obliges almost 40 developed nations to cut emissions until 2012.
The deal does not include a commitment to extend Kyoto beyond 2012, when its first period expires, but it would prevent a collapse of climate change negotiations and allow for some modest advances on protecting the environment.
There were low expectations for the Cancun meeting after the UN’s climate summit in Copenhagen last year fell short of a binding treaty to slow more floods, droughts, storms, heatwaves and rising sea levels that scientists say are caused by global warming.
Many of the accords from Cancun will simply firm up non-binding deals from Copenhagen, which were endorsed by only 140 nations.
Failure in Cancun would have undermined faith in the ability of UN talks to guide a trillion-dollar overhaul of the world economy as it shifts toward China and India and away from developed nations.
“It’s really pretty historic,” said Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat.
“It’s the first time that countries have agreed to such a broad set of instruments and tools that are going to help developing countries in particular,” she said.
Earlier, the United States, China and dozens of other countries rallied around the plan.