Erik Solheim, the Norwegian environment minister, won loud applause at last week’s UN climate conference in Cancun, as he pleaded for a compromise to be reached on the last evening of the two-week-long summit. His pleas, it turned out, were heard.
“Seeking compromise is often seen as a form of weakness, but nobody can avoid compromise either in the family, in the local community or in any nation,” Solheim told the assembly. “If we all seek compromise … this will not be weakness, but strength. What we achieve by this will be seen as a victory tomorrow.”
Indeed, even many critical environmental groups were encouraged by the results of the climate conference, which ended with what Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called “a good and balanced package of decisions.” Stoltenberg, who had to leave the last few days of negotiations to fly home for Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, had played a key role in efforts to finance climate measures and ways of cutting emissions in developing countries.
Solheim, who stayed on in Cancun through the last rounds of marathon negotiations, called the agreement “the biggest step forward in the fight against climate change in many years.” It encompasses emissions cuts, systems for control and measurement of emissions, finance, technology transfer and rain forests.
The host and head of the climate summit, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinoza, gathered delegates and 193 environment ministers from around the world. Stoltenberg maintained that all countries won a breakthrough on issues important to them, although Bolivia was unhappy when it was all over, because it wasn’t ambitious enough. Solheim said many countries shared Bolivia’s concerns, and they’ll be examined at future meetings.
Stoltenberg said Norway was especially satisfied with an agreement on a mechanism to cut emissions from deforestation in developing countries. “This mechanism will provide important guidelines for the forestry cooperation that was established in Oslo in May,” Stoltenberg said. “It’s also good that that carbon capture and storage is included under a green development mechanism.”
Participants also agreed on a “green fund” to finance climate measures, which Stoltenberg said laid an “important foundation” for how the fund can be “filled with money.”