New York, NY (BBN)– The United Nations climate change chief has called on countries to follow up on the recent conference in Cancún with higher global emissions cuts and the rapid launch of new institutions and funds.

The agreements reached at the conference, which concluded in the Mexican city of Cancún on 11 December, include formalizing mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to tackle deforestation, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions.

Delegates at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also agreed to ensure no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the Convention that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whose first commitment period is due to expire in 2012.

“Cancún was a big step, bigger than many imagined might be possible. But the time has come for all of us to exceed our own expectations because nothing less will do,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

She stressed that the ‘Cancún Agreements’ needs to be implemented as quickly as possible, and be accompanied by “credible accountability systems that will help in measuring real progress.”

If all these targets and actions are fully implemented, UN estimates show they could deliver only 60 per cent of the emission reductions that science says will be needed to stay below the agreed two degree rise in average temperatures, and two degrees does not guarantee the survival of the most vulnerable peoples.

“All countries, but particularly industrialized nations, need to deepen their emission reduction efforts and to do so quickly,” Ms. Figueres added.

Agreement was also reached in Cancún on a package to help developing nations deal with climate change, including new institutions, funding channels and a technology transfer mechanism to help the developing world build its own sustainable, low-emissions future, adapt more effectively to climate change, and preserve and protect its forests for the good of all nations.

Ms. Figueres stressed that these institutions must be launched quickly, noting that millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world have been waiting years to get the full level of assistance they need.

She added that the UNFCCC will support all governments in this new work, and said she hoped that it will be possible to point to new and concrete examples of success when the parties to the Convention a year from now in South Africa.

The Green Fund establishes a long-term climate finance institution for the first time under the oversight of the parties to the UNFCCC and with a 24-member board that balances representation between developed and developing nations.

BBN/SI/SSR-21Dec10-12:45 pm (BST)