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Will the UN Cancun Summit Have Any Effect on Climate Change?

The UN Cancun summit on climate change has drawn to a close, but were the talks were a success? That question is debatable. The international community has agreed to create a “green” fund of approximately $100 billion dollars (which will be overseen by the World Bank) to aid developing countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Developed nations have vowed to lend their developing neighbors the technology they need to tackle their climate change plight. Delegates at the summit consented to restrict the rise in temperature to a further 1.5°C (2.7°F). However, the accord doesn’t delineate any details about how these goals ought to be achieved. Perhaps next year’s summit in Durban will reveal more.

How has the public received the results of the climate talks? Critics are of two minds about the effectiveness of the Cancun agreement. Optimistic supporters of the summit’s conclusion see Cancun as a step forward to building a worldwide consensus on climate change, at least relative to 2009’s Copenhagen summit, which failed miserably. They believe that, for the first time, the global community has unanimously acknowledged that the world’s citizens need to do more to curb climate change. Opponents say that the Cancun agreement is full of holes. While countries have pledged to reduce carbon emissions, their assurances are not legally binding, which could result in a lack of commitment and empty promises. Some scientists argue that, even if all the goals of the Cancun agreement are fulfilled, the Earth’s temperature will still rise by 3.5°C to 4°C (approximately 7°F),, leaving much of the planet uninhabitable.

The issue of climate change is a very delicate one – environmentally, socially, economically and politically.  To see how and why opinions differ, check out these diverging ideas on how to solve the problem:

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