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Cancun gets climate talks back on track but many problems remain

Negotiators’ burst of energy and resolve during the final straight of the Cancun talks has produced a cocktail of welcome and worrying results, Christian Aid says today.

‘Copenhagen derailed the world’s effort to solve the climate crisis but here in Cancun, negotiators have just about heaved it back on track,’ said Mohamed Adow, Senior Adviser on Global Advocacy at Christian Aid.

‘Countries have also moved forward on certain issues, with some progress on finance, forests, adaptation and technology. But, we need them to go much further – especially on dramatic cuts in rich countries’ emissions and firmly securing the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

‘So we have mixed feelings today. While the deal contains some potential promise for poor people already struggling with climate change, countries have delayed many key decisions, which condemns those people to an ever more precarious future.

‘The new deal throws Kyoto a lifeline but it is very unclear whether it’s strong enough to pull it through to a second commitment period.

‘Another concern is that the Cancun conclusion is silent on how far global emissions must be reduced to keep the temperature rise within safe levels. Parties must map a clear route towards an early review of the adequacy of the proposed cuts, if we are to keep warming below 2 degrees.

‘We need to be honest with ourselves about what the science shows and the review will help with that. It should be completed in time for the next COP, in Durban.

‘In places the deal improves on the Copenhagen Accord, for instance with the creation of the Green Climate Fund. However, countries have failed to agree on where the money will come from. We’re also very troubled about the role the World Bank will play in the fund, because it has a poor record of protecting people and the environment.’

Christian Aid believes the talks themselves have shown encouraging potential for countries to listen to each other and keep talking and searching for common ground, even when it is hard to imagine there could be any. We hope that countries can build on this positive energy as they continue to work on the huge task of a fair and effective international response to climate change going into South Africa.

Mr Adow added: ‘It’s important that countries continue that work within the UN, which is the only forum which brings the whole world together to tackle common problems. And let’s remember that ‘the UN process’ is whatever member countries make it – not some separate entity with a life of its own. Its success reflects the political will that countries bring – or fail to bring – to the process.

Looking forward, he said countries’ top priorities between now and Durban should include:

Urgently closing the gigatonne gap between countries’ proposed cuts and what the science shows is needed

Firmly securing a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol in time for it to be finally agreed in Durban.

Firmly identifying the sources of the money that will form the Green Climate Fund and agreeing rules on how funds will be distributed.

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To speak to Christian Aid’s policy experts in Cancun, please contact Rachel Baird in Cancun on 00 44 7545 501 749 (if calling from a UK mobile, 07545 501 749) or rbaird@christian-aid.org

The experts are:

Mohamed Adow, Senior Adviser, Global Advocacy and Alliances, Christian Aid

Mohamed speaks excellent English and Swahili. Before joining Christian Aid, he worked for Northern Aid, which works with pastoralists in northern Kenya. Mohamed has strong links with the global climate justice movement and also good all-round knowledge of the talks themselves. Mohamed is originally from Kenya and works for Christian Aid in London.

Sol Ouyela, Senior Adviser, Climate Justice, Christian Aid                              

Sol speaks excellent English and Spanish and specialises in climate finance, although she has a good all-round knowledge of what’s going on. Sol is originally from Argentina and works for Christian Aid in London.

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk