Worlds Collide at Cancun Climate Talks

Publication Type:

Web Article




Foreign Policy In Focus (2010)






Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) publishes commentaries, briefs, and reports on its website and organizes briefings for the public, media, lawmakers, and legislative staff.

As world leaders discuss the threat to the planet in various venues around the world, it’s the poor who face the dire consequences. Marginalized and vulnerable populations--from small farmers in Africa to fisher folk on the banks of island nations--suffer most from the refusal of developed nations and corporations to cut back on emissions that are heating up the planet. But these same populations offer important and sustainable solutions to global warming.

The problem is that the world’s leaders are not listening. And that is not likely to change at the meeting on climate change in Cancun, Mexico that will start at the end of November and run through December 10...

...All signs point to an intensification of market-based proposals for bringing the planet away from the brink of environmental disaster. Rather than addressing the current model of production, trade, and consumption that has caused the crisis, these false solutions aim to deepen it.  A closer look at the so-called “Clean Development Mechanisms” (CDM) shows how.

The CDMs defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol are essentially a dodge that allows developed polluting countries to avoid immediate and significant cutbacks in emissions by “offsetting” them with projects in developing countries to conserve carbon sinks (areas that store carbon, such as forests and jungles) and other schemes. The $127 billion global carbon trading market has become a lucrative marketplace for turning planetary salvation into business deals. The upshot is that the polluter is allowed to keep on polluting. Meanwhile, areas previously cared for by local communities are pulled into management systems overseen by the polluters and international organizations that have purchased their “environmental services.”

Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) is a “Think Tank Without Walls” connecting the research and action of more than 600 scholars, advocates, and activists seeking to make the United States a more responsible global partner. It is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.