Climate Change Conference kicks off with calls for commitment and compromise

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, kicked off Monday with calls for commitment and compromise.

In his opening speech, Mexican President Felipe Calderón cited last year’s hurricane in Mexico, this year’s floods in Pakistan and fires in Russia as examples of increasing incidences of natural disasters brought about by climate change and already affecting the poorest and most vulnerable.

Calling on negotiators in Cancún to make progress in the interest of their children and grandchildren, he said that the “eyes of the world” were focused on the meeting.

“Climate change is an issue that affects life on a planetary scale,” he said. “What this means is that you will not be here alone negotiating in Cancún. By your side, there will be billions of human beings, expecting you to work for all of humanity,” he said.

The two-week meeting is the sixteenth Conference of the 194 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the sixth meeting of the 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

Mexican Foreign Minister and newly elected President of the Conference, Patricia Espinosa said: “It is time to make a concerted effort before it is too late. We can only achieve the results if we commit to making progress.”

According to COP President Espinosa, governments meeting in Mexico can reach a deal to launch action on adaptation, technology transfer and forests; along with creating a new fund for long-term climate finance.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said in her opening address that governments had revealed a growing convergence that a balanced set of decisions under both the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol could be an achievable outcome in Cancún. At the same time, a number of politically charged issues need to be resolved in order to reach such an outcome.

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