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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 12/12/2010

Stuck in a room in Cancun

By Juliet Eilperin

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."

By Juliet Eilperin  | December 12, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
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Next: Blunt talk on protecting forests to combat climate change


First of all, Al Gore's power point presentation had so many falsehoods that it should be put in the fiction category instead of a documentary.
Secondly, volcanos emit more carbon than all the cars in the world.
And Yellowstone National Park alone emits 45,000 tons of carbon every day. Should we cap the volcanos and the geysers around the world?

This "agreement"is only a way to take wealth from the people who earned it and give it to those who did not. Excusing China from the agreement when China is the world's largest polluter is a travesty and makes the entire agreement worthless!

Posted by: tenshi1 | December 12, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

in other words you wack-jobs have to be careful how you proceed with your scam or the world(especially americans) will cut the rope on you completely. hopefully america will do that next year.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | December 12, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The Cancun Agreements are a detailed set of visionary, yet pragmatic principles that make important strides to begin implementing the agreement reached in Copenhagen last year. The countries gathered in Cancun made progress on emissions reductions, greater transparency, forest preservation and the creation of the green fund to help mobilize much needed investments throughout the world.

We aren’t done in our battle to address global warming, but these agreements provide a foundation from which to build further action.

In Cancun, country after country stood up and let their voice be heard that they saw significant promise in the agreement and they would support its adoption by the UN. Countries ranging from the big emitters, the most vulnerable, middle income, the developed and developing world, and from all the different regions of the world rose up in those final hours. It was a sight that I’ve never seen in my years in these negotiations.

We’ll need that new spirit to remain as much more work lies ahead. Time is not on our side, so we must rise above and find the needed solutions to this challenge.

For more on my take on the agreement:

Jake Schmidt
International Climate Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

Posted by: jschmidt3 | December 12, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Blah, blah, blah. Lots of HOT AIR in Cancun, which had a RECORD COLD TEMPERATURE at the time of the globull warming party. What was accomplished? Well, the elites got to party with the rulers and the poor dictators have hope of lining their pockets with the money stupid, knee-jerk, bleeding hearts will offer up so they can feel good about themselves for "doing something". Well, not on MY DIME! Not ONE CENT of taxpayer money is going to go to continue this FRAUD after 1/1/11.

Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | December 12, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Great post, Jake.

It wasn't just country after country standing up and being counted on the side of reducing carbon emissions.

The business/ corporate world turned out en masse also. On Nov. 29, the CEO's of Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, FEMSA, and Coca-Cola appeared together, calling for a price on carbon in order to spur investment, efficiency, and innovation. They are joined by over 350 CEO's who signed the Cancun Communique, in support of action on climate change.

On Dec. 4 & 5, over 800 business leaders attended/ spoke at the World Climate Summit talking about how best create the sustainable business revolution through improvements in supply chain management, financing, efficiency, and technology.

Business is acting; governments got it together. I'm hopeful.

Posted by: truly1 | December 16, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"breakthrough?" Was Ms Eilperin really in Cancun?

Please, get a serious environmental reporter to cover the environment, not a partisan greenie.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 18, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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