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UN climate change conference opens in Mexico

The UN climate chief has launched the annual climate change meeting in Cancun in Mexico, asking negotiators to strike a “compromise” and weave together elements of a solid response to global warming by drawing inspiration from the Mayan goddess of “reason and creativity.”

“Next to the goddess of the moon, Ixchel, was also the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving,” Christina Figueres, UN climate chief, told the gathering at Cancun on Monday.

“May she inspire you – because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change.”

Figueres said that when the stakes are high and issues are challenging, “compromise is an act of wisdom that can unite different positions in creative ways.”

“I am convinced that you can compromise to find your way to a concrete outcome in Cancun,” she said.

“A richer tapestry of efforts is needed,” Figueres said, as she spelt out the tasks facing the 12-day conference in the Mexican resort city of Cancun.

“A tapestry of holes will not work — and the holes can only be filled in through compromise.”

The contentious climate meeting in Denmark, last year, yielded the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which called for limiting rise of global temperature to 2 degrees, USD 100 billion in long term finance to developing countries and USD 30 billion to short-term finance to the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

This year, however, governments are expected to produce outcomes on areas where there was already some consensus like forestry, adaptation, fast-track funding and technology transfer.

Negotiators are also expected to find solutions to divisive issues like mitigation, emission reduction and the future of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

This year, 37 industrialised nations and 42 developing countries submitted mitigation targets and voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which need to be followed up on during this meeting.

While developed countries have already announced pledges of USD 28 billion for the fast-track funding, a UN advisory group has presented a report with suggestions to come up with the USD 100 billion a year by 2020 for poor countries to combat climate change.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon told negotiators that the “eyes of the world” are on Cancun for the duration of 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 Cancun. By your side, there will be billions of human beings, expecting you to work for all of humanity.”

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