Cancun: the building blocks have been laid

As is being reported worldwide today (see coverage from the New York Times and from the BBC), progress has been made at the UN climate summit in Cancún. So, while we continue to pore through the text that was published last night, here's a quick overview of yesterday's events:

At around 18:00 yesterday evening, two 'texts' (drafts of potential agreements) were published at the conference centre by Patricia Espinosa, Mexico's foreign minister and the president of the COP16 summit. She then gave country delegations two hours to review the drafts and requested that negotiators reconvene later in the evening.

It was at this stage that things started to look positive, with Espinosa's address receiving rapturous applause from the plenary floor. And so, after a couple of hours of deliberation between government delegations, a final decision was made and the Cancún text was agreed.

Here are the headlines of what it contains – good and bad:

A global Climate Fund has been established. This is a strong step towards ensuring developing countries are provided with desperately-needed assistance in fighting the effects of climate change. As I wrote earlier this week, this was a key issue for Oxfam – we've been campaigning on it throughout the year. In the coming months, it will be crucial that decisions are made on where money will be raised from to fill the Fund.

On the other hand, one major disappointment was that an earlier draft of the text, which was seen by Oxfam a few days ago, had stated that women's needs must be addressed. In the agreement that was made last night, this was subsequently changed and the reference was removed. With women in poor communities more likely to be at risk from the impacts of climate change, work is needed here to make sure this is put back in.

Next, there was development on the Kyoto Protocol. As I wrote the other day, Japan's wavering on Kyoto – the existing international climate agreement, which needs to be renewed next year – had been undermining progress in Cancún. But in the final hours of negotiations, after a tide of public pressure was applied on the Japanese government, Japan decided not to block a continuation of Kyoto, which in turn keeps the prospect of a new round of emissions cuts alive.

Lastly, although the Cancún text still falls short of meeting emissions cuts demanded by the science, it does prevent backsliding on the targets currently on the table, and lays out a path to move toward them. Crucially, this takes us a step closer to the global deal that eluded last year's summit in Copenhagen.

In the coming days, Oxfam's policy team will continue to crunch through the detail of the text. They'll be unpicking the meaning and deciding where to go next. Stay tuned for more about that. But in the mean time, one thing is clear. Progress wouldn't have happened in Cancún without the pressure exerted by campaigners throughout 2010. And while there was so much more that could have been accomplished, the building blocks have been laid – and your voices have been heard.

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