Cancun talks start with a call to the gods [Excerpts]
By Juliet Eilperin
With United Nations climate negotiators facing an uphill battle to advance their goal of reducing emissions linked to global warming, it's no surprise that the woman steering the talks appealed to a Mayan goddess Monday.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, invoked the ancient jaguar goddess Ixchel in her opening statement to delegates gathered in Cancun, Mexico, noting that Ixchel was not only goddess of the moon, but also "the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you -- because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools."
She called for "a balanced outcome" which would marry financial and emissions commitments from industrialized countries aimed at combating climate change with "the understanding of fairness that will guide long-term mitigation efforts."
"Excellencies, the goddess Ixchel would probably tell you that a tapestry is the result of the skilful interlacing of many threads," said Figueres, who hails from Costa Rica and started her greetings in Spanish before switching to English. "I am convinced that 20 years from now, we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of Ixchel."
Delegates from 193 countries are gathered in Cancun for the two-week meeting, which kicked off today at 10:20 a.m. local time, or 11:20 a.m. Eastern. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a major proponent of action on climate change, attended the opening.
(Elperin, "Cancun talks start with a call to the gods," Washington Post Online, 11/29/10).