Climate Policy in 2010: One Step Forward and Two Sideward

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Regional Analysis of Climate Policy in 2010 and the Cancun Climate Conference (COP 16)

by Tilman Santarius, Arne Jungjohann et al.

The year 2010 offered mixed results concerning global climate policy, with serious setbacks as well as some small victories. In the United States, plans on long-awaited domestic climate legislation were abandoned. In China and India, national climate legislation has made small advances, but expansion of fossil-based long-term infrastructure continues to rise steeply.

International negotiators had to pick up the pieces left behind from the breakdown of UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP 15). Although the outcome of the UNFCCC conference in Cancun (COP 16) in December 2010 generated positive responses, the question remains whether the Cancun conference can be called a success – or whether it is merely symbolic of the sustained stalemate of international climate policy in the attempt to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Final evaluation of the Cancun conference, it seems, depends on the regional and national perspectives. This paper contextualizes the Cancun conference within the landscape of the different regional climate policy developments during 2010, analyzes the different national expectations of the conference, explains negotiation positions, and analyzes how perceptions of the Cancun conference varied between key countries and regions. The paper concludes with an outlook on challenges to the international climate policy process on the road to COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 and suggests rethinking current negotiation procedures in order to secure more ambitious climate policies in the years ahead.

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