Friday, 26 November 2010

What a difference a year makes. Before Copenhagen, there was a tremendous sense of excitement and anticipation. Remember the slogan ‘Hopenhagen’? But President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, the new executive secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres, and just about every Western government official is downplaying the chances of any major advance at Cancun. Seems like Cancan’t.

Just compare the numbers of heads of state meant to be attending. Copenhagen had around 120. When I spoke this week to the Mexican foreign ministry, they were expecting around 20. Many of those are from Latin America and the Caribbean - there to offer some Latin solidarity to Mexico towards the end of the summit.

And the media? As our recent Reuters Institute study showed, about 4,000 journalists attended Copenhagen from 119 countries. We don’t know of a political event where more journalists were present. It wasn’t just the Western press who were there. Brazil and China both had more than 100 journalists there.

This time, the UNFCCC says half that figure has registered, but many are coming just for the last few days. The BBC, Washington Post and New York Times are all scaling back their coverage compared to Copenhagen.

There is bound to be less drama and excitement. But there is one consolation – the temperature in Cancun is around 27C at the moment. That’s got to be better than queuing (fruitlessly at times) in sub-zero temperatures in Copenhagen.

James Painter is the author of’ Summoned by Science’, a study of how the international media reported the Copenhagen summit. He will be at Cancun working for the BBC website,

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