Friday, 3 December 2010

First hurdle: getting to Cancun

After 3 days of traveling, Sarah Burch, Lauren Coad and I finally arrived in Cancun today. It all started to go "wrong" when Sarah got a text message from BA that our flight out of Gatwick was cancelled. By then we were about 5 minutes out of Oxford. But because the bus driver's radio was broken he insisted he couldn't just let us out but needed to drive all the way to Gatwick anyway. At Gatwick we got ourselves straight onto another bus back to Heathrow in the hope of getting onto another flight so that Sarah and I would not miss our presentations the next day. After 4 hours of cheerful queuing we were indeed successful at rebooking -- thanks to friendly BA IT department employee Ian who helped out in the queues. Our new itinerary took us via Old Windsor for the night (courtesy of BA) -- getting worryingly ever closer back to Oxford -- to Miami and then to Cancun the following day. Thanks to Sarah's friend Victoria from Fort Lauderdale, who generously put us up for the night, we had a very fun time dining and enjoying cocktails in South Beach that evening. The next day we could barely believe our luck that all went according to plan and we indeed landed in Cancun. The only near surprise was that Lauren and my suitcases didn't show up. But we secured them later from customs. It was probably the ECI annual reports that were just too good a read!

A newspaper article in the Independent about Japan backing off a 2nd commitment period under Kyoto got us thinking about the future of international climate governance. If there was no continuation of Kyoto, who and what would fill the void? This got us wondering whether national governments and non-state actors would be (1) all the more, (2) just as much, or (3) less committed to action if no agreement was reached internationally. The procedural and methodology-developing functions aside, what political weight does the UNFCCC really have today? How can it be strengthened?

Heike Schroeder is an Oxford Martin Senior Research Fellow in Forest Governance at the Environmental Change Institute.

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