December 13, 2010
Elements of last year's Copenhagen Accord moved a step closer to reality as two weeks of talks concluded in Cancun this week with a new consensus on the path forward for international negotiations to combat climate change. Over the objections of Bolivia, the so-called Cancun Agreements text was adopted by more than 190 countries, setting the stage for ongoing negotiations on subjects ranging from greenhouse gas emission cuts from developed and developing countries to rules for reducing deforestation.
Of course, climate change is not waiting for the outcome of all this negotiating hot air. The NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies released temperature data on Friday showing that 2010 boasted the warmest average temperatures worldwide since record-keeping began in the 19th century—a consequence of global warming and an El Nino. As geoscientist Katherine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University in Lubbock notes, ongoing greenhouse gas emissions have committed the world to at least 1.5 degree Celsius warming from pre-Industrial levels—a number that the Cancun Agreements urge consideration of as a future target "on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge."