Stuck in a room in Cancun
CANCUN, Mexico -- How did the U.N. climate talks go from an impasse to a breakthrough? It helped that Mexico's special representative on climate change kept key negotiators talking in a hotel suite for 12 hours, with only occasional breaks.
Representatives from Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia Egypt, the European Union, India, Japan, Marshall Islands, Russia, South Africa, the United States and Venezuela spent much of Friday discussing how to address two key questions: whether to extend the Kyoto Protocol and how to anchor major emerging economies' voluntary emissions cuts in a new international accord.
According to U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern, "things got a little bit tense" at times, but negotiators grew more comfortable as the session went on. "I wouldn't say it was convivial, but it was actually pretty cordial and friendly."
And while Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa got plenty of plaudits over the past couple of days -- Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh called her "a goddess" during one of the plenary sessions -- Stern and a host of experts say Mexican climate envoy Luis Alfonso de Alba deserves plenty of credit for this week's outcome.
"He's unbelievably talented. He was very good at having a vision, in fact, having a vision all year, of where we needed to go," Stern said of the veteran climate negotiator. "He kept people away from making speeches about principles.. He kept looking for words that people could live with."
Ned Helme, president of the Clean Air Policy Center, said de Alba selected key ministers to work out the thorniest issues in the negotiations, including how to verify major emerging economies' emission pledges.
"Everybody gets their second choice," Helme said, but in crafting the final compromise, Mexican officials made sure "there was a landing place for everybody. Nobody went home empty handed."
One of de Alba's strengths, Stern said, was recognizing when negotiators were willing to walk. When it came to the U.S., he added, incorporating major developing countries' emission pledges into the final package and establishing a verification system was non-negotiable.
"You have to figure out, to the best you can, where somebody's red lines are," he said. "Those were red lines for us. We weren't going to go backwards from Copenhagen."
| December 12, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Mexican president dicusses deforestation, need for U.N. process reform
Next: Blunt talk on protecting forests to combat climate change
Posted by: tenshi1 | December 12, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 12thgenamerican | December 12, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jschmidt3 | December 12, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | December 12, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: truly1 | December 16, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 18, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse