Fr McDonagh reports from Cancun: 2. the first day

Fr Sean McDonagh

Fr Sean McDonagh

Columban eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh writes from Mexico: On Saturday, when I came to the Conference Centre the journey took about 15 minutes. On Monday morning it took almost two hours. Many of the participants were stranded on buses, literally inching their way towards the Conference Centre when President Filipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa, the President of Mexico, opened the proceedings for the 2010 Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP 16).

The heavy police and military presence was there to protect the President from the narco-terrorist gangs which are so powerful here in Mexico. Drug traffickers have stepped up attacks against security forces and government officials since the president deployed thousands of troops and federal police to crush the cartels in their strongholds.  There were no glitches this morning and the bus time was back to 15 minutes.  

Many of the members of the Group of 77 (mainly countries from the South) and Arab countries praised Mexico for the hard work it has invested in healing a lot of the distrust which characterised the final few days of the Copenhagen.  This is a major achievement as there was every possibility after Copenhagen that the UN Convention on Climate on Climate Change would just fade away. The people I have spoken to, mainly from Civil Society Organisations, hope that Cancun will put in place significant stepping stones towards achieving a full, fair, ambitious and binding treaty at COP 17 in South Africa in 2012.  

The Executive Secretary, Christina Figueres, in her opening statement at COP 16 called for decisive action at Cancun for three reasons. The World Meteorological Organisation has said that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is at its highest level since pre-industrial times. Secondly, the poorest and most vulnerable need predictability and sufficient assistance to face the serious problems that they did not cause. Thirdly, the multilateral climate change process enshrined in the COP must remain the trusted channel for addressing the climate change crisis.

She reviewed, from a fairly optimistic perspective, what has been achieved at the various meetings since Copenhagen. There is a commitment to live up to the finance pledges made in Copenhagen, for example. Developed countries have announced pledges totaling US$ 28 billion dollars and many of them are now making information available on the disbursement of these funds. Yet, there is much to be done. The tasks to be accomplished in Cancun include the mobilization of long-term finance.

COP16 here in Cancun promises to be an exciting, but also exhausting 12 days. The stakes could hardly be higher. They involve the well-being of the planet, of those of us who are alive today and all future generations.

Sean McDonagh’s blog is at:



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