Breakthrough in Cancún

Defying the odds, the world reaches agreement on climate change.

In the past two weeks, the WikiLeaks revelations, tuition fees vote and student protests have taken over the news agenda. The UN climate change negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, have almost slipped beneath the radar. This time last year, the summit in Copenhagen was ending in frustration and disarray, with no binding agreement made or progress to speak of. The world watched in despair as ministers and advisers blamed each other for the breakdown in talks.

Perhaps the lack of media attention was exactly what was needed in order to make significant progress in the negotiations. Under the stewardship of the Mexican hosts, compromise documents were drawn up and, overcoming objections from Bolivia, endorsed by the nations present, including the United States and China (both of which have ritually blocked progress in negotiations previously).

When Todd Stern, the US envoy, voiced his support for the document ("Let us do what it takes to get this deal done and put the world on a path to a low emission and more sustainable pathway") cheers apparently rang out around the hall.

The deal, which still does not bind countries legally to cut emissions, will be insufficient for many campaigners. But most seem to agree that it represents a positive first step on the way to achieving that aim. WWF, for example, issued a statement tentatively acknowledging the "renewed sense of goodwill and some sense of purpose". The pressure is now on to legally define the deal at next year's summit in Durban, South Africa.

The summit's main success was the agreement to establish a Green Climate Fund, which will raise and distribute $100bn (£64bn) a year by 2020 to protect poor nations against the impacts of climate change and help them develop a low-carbon economy.

Taking much of the credit for the deal is the Mexican foreign minister, Patricia Espinosa, who was described as a "goddess" by the Indian environment minister, Jairem Ramesh. "You have restored the confidence of the world community in multilateralism and in the multilateral process," he said.

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.