By Victoria Elmore* and Guy Edwards Over the course of 2013 & 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).  In 2007 the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. Although there has been some recent controversy surrounding the IPCC, it remains the most authoritative and trusted international scientific body on climate change. The following list, which is based on information available on the IPCC’s site, profiles all the Latin American and Caribbean scientists involved in the AR5. It is divided up into the three Working Groups and includes the name, country and institution of each scientist from the region. This list raises a number of interesting questions on the current state of investigation on climate change in the region, which we will try and address in another post soon.
*Dr. Graham Woodgate (Photo: The volcanic cone of the Nevado Toluca rising above the forests below) Reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a key plank of global climate change mitigation strategies. Opinion is divided on the efficacy and ethics of REDD+ mechanisms, in no small part due to the complexity of the two-way relationship between forests and climate and the structural characteristics of North-South relations.
Published in Biodiversity
WindPower Mexico, a two-day conference designed to bring together stakeholders, market leaders, and potential investors in wind energy development in Mexico, takes place today and tomorrow in Mexico City. The forum features presentations by wind developers, utilities operators, policy makers, and representatives from major international financial institutions.
Published in Renewable Energy
In December 2010, the international community explicitly stated “We choose consensus” at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Cancun.* Although countries remain divided and the Cancun Agreements do not guarantee climate security, on that December day we triumphed with a pragmatic spirit, which was much needed for the UNFCCC negotiations to repair the damage left from Copenhagen. The conference’s results and skill of both the Mexican diplomats and the UNFCCC chief surprised even the most optimistic of commentators (who were very few). Yet a little over a month later, we are left questioning how we can raise the ambition of the efforts and give them the proper legal form. In the 21st Century, a global mark that guarantees climate security requires an agreement between China and the United States. China and the United States, the “G2”, are the two principle economies and the two greatest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. And yet there is still no solution for this geopolitical jigsaw puzzle. Nonetheless, this paralysis between the “G2” should not reduce us to a role of passive observers, or even worse, to one of victims. In Cancun, the progressive and pragmatic countries, especially those of us small countries and those at greatest risk if diplomacy were to collapse, opted to be proactive. The Mexican President of the conference was patient and open to dialogue so that Cancun would give the key and necessary signal: we have no definite solution (in mitigation and in its legal form); however we can take an intermediary path within the construction of the climate architecture. That night—in one of its scarce occasions—the international community strove to reach an agreement. We progressive countries celebrate this success. However, important dynamics unraveled behind the scenes. Cancun demonstrated that climate alliances can and should incorporate the voices of both developing and developed countries. In order to face the paralysis we are in, we must open up new dialogues. Only then, with quality proposals, can we counteract the unilateral impulses of those countries that threaten to break the consensus because they are either big or inflexible or both. I participated in a promising dialogue that took place in Cancun: the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action. In my opinion, it is the most imaginative and constructive platform that currently exists in the climate negotiations. What is the Cartagena Dialogue? The Dialogue emerged as a spontaneous and informal effort to elaborate the negotiation texts in Copenhagen. Given the bitter result of COP15, a small group of negotiators decided to rescue the effort together and transform it into a positive platform. Crisis tends to create the most skillful ideas. And so, this informal space was born. It was open to countries with ideas to create an ambitious regime, both comprehensive and legally binding across constructive positions and that, within the domestic sphere, strive to continue with or promote low carbon economies in the medium- and long-term. These countries share a main goal that the negotiations advance, and that countries work together positively and proactively both within and with other regional groups. For example, in the Cartagena Dialogue we openly discuss the motivations behind distinct positions (“What does country X want to gain through this and why?), we clear up misunderstandings (“I have heard that your group is against Y, is this true?”) to explore the spaces for convergence in the negotiations (“What do you all think about a paragraph that suggests…”) But I must stress that the Dialogue is neither a negotiation block, nor does it have the intention to challenge the blocks in the negotiations. The dialogue serves as a discussion forum to exchange opinions and to explore options and texts that can generate support and consensus from other parts. Why the Cartagena Dialogue? The name comes from the first group meeting, which took place in Cartagena, Colombia, in March 2010. In July 2010, the Dialogue took place in Maldives, and it met for the third time in Costa Rica (October-November 2010). There were additional informal gatherings in Bonn, Germany, and in Tianjin, China. In the year 2010, the following countries participated in one or more meetings: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the European Union, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malawi, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mexico (as President of the COP16), the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Rwanda,  Dominican Republic, Samoa, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. The most inspiring part of the Dialogue is the unusual and refreshing constructive spirit that allows for the exchange of ideas. Outside of the formal negotiation rooms, a safe space is created where frank discussions can take place to explore areas of common interest in a fluid environment without pressure.  One can breathe a refreshing air of trust—which is very different from the polarizing environment that prevails in the plenaries and usually results in stalemate or paralysis. From Cancun to Durban Given the fragile political conditions facing Cancun, a key objective during 2010 facing the conference in Mexico was to find convergence. We needed to establish the precedent that it was possible to have an agreement, which would capture what we ‘can live with,’ even if it does not meet one hundred percent of what my country individually wants (or even if it had some paragraphs that we do not like at all). And we succeeded. In Cancun, the Cartagena Dialogue met daily and several times at night in subgroups to search for consensus, to take the pulse of the negotiations, and to explore strategies to work with the most inflexible countries. The Dialogue will meet for the next time in Malawi in March 2011. There, we will exchange ideas of how to make beneficial and strategic contributions at the COP17 in Durban. It is complex and often frustrating to reach an agreement among nearly 200 governments. There is no recipe for success. But we know the ingredients: discipline, better listening and less screaming. Through the Dialogue we have explored how the “engineering of convergences” work. And innovatively, we have drawn up the only informal platform that includes as many developing countries as developed.  The challenge in 2011 is to instill ambition and legal certainty to come closer to the climate security objectives that science—and our consciences—demand. *We know that Bolivia had objections but the international lawyers have reminded us that consensus does not have to mean unanimity. A special thanks to Cecilia Pineda, Brown University, for translating this piece.
Latin America matters in international climate politics. Its emerging leadership role at the international climate change talks, on low-carbon pathways and climate finance illustrate how some Latin American countries may shape the negotiations and the region this decade.
Published in Adaptation
This is a presentation made by Dr. Monica Araya, E3G Senior Associate and adviser to the Ministry of Environment of Costa Rica on climate finance, at the April 8th Brown University Conference on “Latin America and Climate Change: Regional Perspectives on a Global Problem”.

The 19th century British Foreign Secretary, George Canning, is renowned as a great liberal statesman who "called the New World into existence". The current British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has also called for British governments to stop underestimating Latin America and to improve relations with this dynamic and vibrant region. However, as Laurence Allan and I argue in The World Today, British foreign policy towards Latin America needs a drastic makeover, not least if our common goals on climate change and UN reform can bear results.
Perhaps Hague's reflections on past engagement do signal a new stage in British policy. But high level ministerial visits to the region will mean nothing unless the government tries harder to clarify its real intentions and to fix inconsistencies between what it would aspire to do in Latin America, what is actually conceivable, and what it is really doing. In this multi-polar era of interdependence and international realignment, a policy based on the mouldy memoirs of a 19th century empire is inadequate. The coalition government should look beyond this narrow focus if its newfound interest in Latin American is to gain credibility and achieve success on pressing global issues, in tune with British national interests beyond the parameters of Treasury thinking.
By Timmons Roberts & Martin Stadelmann*

This article was originally posted on OUTREACH The surprisingly positive conclusion at Cancun was as much about the process as the substance of the two key texts that are now in place to advance the negotiations over the next year leading to Durban.   There were standing ovations at the transparent and inclusive process that brought the year of negotiations to a close, putting some of the bad feelings of Copenhagen behind us. However on the crucial details of climate finance, we are scarcely any further along, apart from some progress in establishing initial institutions for the new Green Climate Fund and enhancing transparency. In spite of many concerns expressed throughout the year, deeply problematic language was copied verbatim into the Cancun Agreements from the Copenhagen Accord text.  An opportunity was lost to clarify what has been agreed in Copenhagen.
Published in Climate Finance
(Photo: UNFCCC Chief, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica (L), and Patricia Espinosa (R), COP16 President & Mexican Foreign Secretary) 6:23 am, the surgery is shut down, the patient, multilateralism, once given up for dead, is alive and showing signs of what might be a remarkable recovery. A year ago in Copenhagen, nearly all faith in the United Nations system to address climate change was gone.  Secret drafts of agreements by the Danish president were leaked out, and the final Copenhagen Accord was penned by an exclusive group of just five nations, who forced the other 186 nations to simply sign on to their deal.
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