In the first few days in Cancún, many Parties have spoken strongly and at times eloquently about multi-lateralism. Not just as a means in itself, but as a means to the end of combating climate change. Is this a case of protesting too much? Climate change is being dealt with in many different places after all. Business, civil society, local government all must play greater roles in future. And in negotiations between nation-states, the fora have multiplied – the G20 Finance Ministers discuss climate, the OECD takes it up, the UN General Assembly has several discussions, the US-initiated Major Emitters Meeting has become the Major Economies Forum.
What countries are saying is that there is only one place to get a fair solution. Only the UN is sufficiently inclusive, with universal membership, to be able to deliver a fair outcome on climate. The point of getting everyone on board – by consensus, without voting – is to ensure that everyone feels bound by the final outcome. And stand behind what all have agreed and what they particularly have committed to.
Is it effective ? Well, no, it is not delivering results nearly quickly enough to address the problem of climate change. There is no doubt that the UNFCCC process needs to become more efficient, more quicker. If it does not show results, it will make itself redundant.
Papua New Guinea proposed that the rule on voting should be adopted. That went down like a lead balloon. Not because it’s a bad idea, but since those who want no progess will never allow it. More deeply, though, it would not be the appropriate dead-lock-breaking mechanism. If a country had voted ‘no’ to the next climate treaty, but were overruled by the majority, they would simply not feel bound by the result.
Any ideas on better mechanisms?
Because what we need is fair and effective multi-lateral solution to climate change.