Cancun talks: Friends of the Earth analysis

A weak and ineffective agreement but at least a small and fragile lifeline for continued negotiations.

Friends of the Earth has been working for a global agreement that will keep global average temperature increases to below two degrees - and is fair for developing countries that are on the front-line of climate change but have done least to cause.

The world needed strong and determined action to tackle climate change in Cancun – the outcome is a weak and ineffective agreement but at least it gives us a small and fragile lifeline.

Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth

Dangerous moves

Although the agreement in Cancun keeps the negotiating process alive, rich countries have pulled the world away from international agreements where the emissions targets are based on science.

They have moved towards replacing this with a hazardous system where targets can be decided on the whim of politicians. This puts the world in an extremely dangerous place if we want to have any chance of avoiding temperature rises above two degrees.

The agreement in Cancun increases the possibilities for introducing  massive loopholes into the already weak targets through increasing carbon markets. These  create an escape hatch for rich countries to avoid making their fair share of the deep emissions cuts we now urgently need.

Climate finance

Friends of the Earth is pleased that a Global Climate Fund has been established to  provide developing countries with the money they need to tackle climate change.

But we're very concerned that the pledges of finance are very far off what's needed. We don't think that that the World Bank, as one of the largest lenders for fossil fuel projects in the world, should have been given a role as trustee of the Fund.

Where next?

The UN negotiating process remains alive. Friends of the Earth will be working hard for an agreement in South Africa next year that's in line with the science, closes dangerous offsetting loopholes and is fair on developing countries who have done least to cause climate change.

Friends of the Earth is concerned that we now have very little time left to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The chance of a fairer, stronger binding deal at South Africa will be increased if the UK and EU increase their reductions targets and close the loopholes and if finance starts flowing in earnest to developing countries.

Thank you to everyone who took action during the talks. You have helped us retain the lifeline. We look forward to you continued support towards South Africa.