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Andrew Heintzman, president and CEO of Green Living sister company, Investeco, and Chair of the Premier's Climate Change Advisory Panel for the Province of Ontario, returned last weekend from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. While there, he sent us an on-scene report. Now, he shares this update.

United Nations Climate Change Conference

By Andrew Heintzman

The climate negotiations in Cancun ended on an up note, with 193 countries agreeing to approve concluding texts covering all the major issues discussed at the conference. Only Bolivia stood opposed, saying the final agreements amounted to a blank cheque for developed countries. This led to a dramatic exchange between the president of the COP16 and Bolivia.

“We will get every international body necessary to make sure that the consensus is respected,” Bolivian representative Pablo Solon said to the chair of the conference, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, protesting the approval of the final texts despite his opposition.

“Consensus does not mean that one nation can choose to apply a veto on a process that other nations have been working on for years. I cannot ignore the opinion of another 193 states that are parties,” Espinosa replied to enthusiastic applause from the convention floor.

This strong position taken by the Mexican president of COP16 was a testament, in part, to her deft handling of the procedures and processes. She went out of her way to build a process that was completely transparent, and as a result, she had built tremendous goodwill in the room. This gave her the moral standing to drive home a complicated deal at the final whistle. And it showed the kind of backbone that will be required for this process to succeed.

And so an agreement was reached amongst 193 of 194 countries present. It includes major steps forward on management of forests through the provision known as REDD+ and the establishment of a management and governance structure for the Green Climate Fund. Still, the agreement left many issues unresolved, including binding reductions targets for countries in the future. These will have to be resolved in COP17 in South Africa a year hence.

Andrew Heintzman's latest book is The New Entrepreneurs: Building a Green Economy for the Future (Anansi, 2010). It's available from the publisher or at Amazon.com.