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Next Stop: Cancun - Global climate and energy policy update

An update on energy policy leading up to the Cancun climate conference

Cancun – the next major UN climate conference

The Cancun climate conference will take place November 29 through December 10, 2010. Last year’s Copenhagen conference was the last major attempt to negotiate a global climate treaty. Both the UN Secretary General and the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC have publicly stated that a global climate treaty will not be reached in Cancun. Climate negotiators are now looking beyond Cancun to South Africa in 2011 as the next best chance to achieve a binding international treaty.

New climate policies are being adopted

Many nations are moving forward even without a global treaty. For example, about 500 European cities, mostly in Italy and Spain, have pledged to cut CO2 emissions 25% below 1990 levels. China announced the establishment of the National Energy Commission to help reduce carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020. India announced a tax on coal to fund clean energy development, and South Africa received funding from the World Bank to plan and build some of the largest solar and wind power plants in the developing world.

US Congress stalled on climate legislation

Comprehensive climate and energy legislation will not be passed in the US this year. The Senate has removed these issues from the 2010 agenda despite the heightened public concerns regarding environmental issues due to factors such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Mid-term elections and the lack of sufficient support for any one proposal made it difficult for a bill to garner the votes needed to pass.

Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

An explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in US history. The well has successfully been capped, but only after 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf over 87 days. The amount of oil lost would not even satisfy US oil demand for one day. This report provides a review of the spill’s implications and context.

Download the full report [PDF]