On December 11, the United Nations climate conference in Cancún, Mexico—which began with modest expectations—ended with modest results. This was no surprise, given the gaps that have existed not only between industrialized and developing countries, but also within these two groups. Cancún’s outcomes may not seem that impressive, or anywhere close to the FAB (fair, ambitious, and binding) standard. But a modest deal is definitely better than no deal at all, especially at a time when the world is starting to lose faith in the UN negotiating process.

China moves the ball

Looking back at the situation before Cancún, or even during the first few days of the conference, it is fair to say that without China’s initiative and positive “chain-reaction” impact on other nations, Cancún could have ended in the same disappointments as the Copenhagen climate talks did a year ago. Before Cancún, the world feared another U.S.-China deadlock, as was witnessed in Copenhagen and also at the October 2010 major climate meeting in Tianjin.

Luckily, in Cancún, the United States and China shook hands instead of bumping heads. The compromises that these and other countries made, as well as the host country’s excellent mediation skills, ultimately saved this conference.

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binding, Cancun, China, Climate Change, COP-16, energy efficiency, green economy, MRV, renewa, renewable energy