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2014 SkS News Bulletin #6: LIMA COP20 / CMP10

Posted on 15 December 2014 by John Hartz

This News Bulletin is a compilation of articles about the just concluded meeting of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and of and the 10th session of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting was held in Lima, Peru begining on Dec 1 and ending on Dec 14 with the adoption of a report dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action.

A climate accord based on global peer pressure

Shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday, after more than 36 straight hours of negotiations, top officials from nearly 200 nations agreed to the first deal committing every country in the world to reducing the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming.

In its structure, the deal represents a breakthrough in the two-decade effort to forge a significant global pact to fight climate change. The Lima Accord, as it is known, is the first time that all nations — rich and poor — have agreed to cut back on the burning oil, gas and coal.

But the driving force behind the new deal was not the threat of sanctions or other legal consequences. It was global peer pressure. And over the coming months, it will start to become evident whether the scrutiny of the rest of the world is enough to pressure world leaders to push through new global warming laws from New Delhi to Moscow or if, as a political force, international reproach is impotent.

A climate accord based on global peer pressure by Coral Davenport, New York Times, Dec 14, 2014

At climate talks in Lima, not ‘Same as it ever was’?

To begin, here’s a “Your Dot” reflection on the Lima talks from James Fahn, the executive director of Internews’s Earth Journalism Network and a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. (He previously wrote for Dot Earth from Bhutan.)

Fahn was in Peru to lead the annual Climate Change Media Partnership, which brings groups of journalists – this year, mostly from Latin America, but also from China, India and Nepal – to cover the negotiations. (Full disclosure: I led a workshop at the 2010 climate meeting in Cancún, Mexico, for this group, which I’ve hailed as a valuable network for sharing coverage and journalism tips.)

At Climate Talks in Lima, Not ‘Same as it Ever Was’? by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth. New York Times, Dec 14, 2015

Climate change talks end with deal that kicks can down the road

The Lima climate change talks began with such optimism on Dec. 1. It was shortly after the U.S. and China sealed a landmark deal to cut carbon emissions, and it seemed like it was going to be a nice little conference where everyone was going to be on the same page. Around 190 countries would finalize the last major deal that would form the basis for a global agreement to be signed in Paris next year. Alas, it was not to be. “What was supposed to be a fairly straightforward two-week conference descended into a bitter fight, running 33 hours overtime,” explains Ed King in Responding to Climate Change.

The good news is that at least a deal was reached; there were points Saturday afternoon in which it seemed as if the whole thing could collapse, in large part due to the same old bitter dispute between developed and developing nations. And, as the Guardian explains, everyone was able to at least partly fulfill their goals. Under the deal, countries will have to submit plans to cut back on emissions by the end of March, which will then be used to write up the global deal. But the toughest decisions on climate change were simply postponed, meaning the Paris meeting is likely to be particularly tough, notes Reuters.

Climate Change Talks End With Watered-Down Deal That Kicks Can Down the Road by Daniel Politi, Dec 14, 2014

Dirty energy reliance undercuts U.S., Canada rhetoric at climate talks

While U.S. and Canadian officials delivered speeches about how the world needs to step up to their responsibilities at the U.N. climate negotiations in Lima, Peru, activists from North America demanded clear answers back home on their governments’ relationships with fossil fuel corporations, as well as the future of several major oil projects across the continent. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Thursday about the role each country should play on tackling climate change and referred to the U.S.-China agreement announced in November. The agreement, which pledged unforeseen emissions reductions for both countries, has been lauded by many countries as a progressive step forward at the U.N. negotiations.

However, civil society delegates have expressed concern over the disconnect between the messaging the United States has been taking in Lima, and its domestic fossil fuel reliance.

Dirty Energy Reliance Undercuts U.S., Canada Rhetoric at Climate Talks by Leehi Yona, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 13, 2014

Five Takeaways from the Lima Climate Talks

Marathon international climate talks in Peru have produced a roughly drawn road map for reaching a global pact in Paris late 2015 that commits all nations—not just the developed world—to slowing or cutting carbon emissions.

In devising a road map, however, negotiators sidelined key questions, leaving doubts as to how strong the Paris deal will ultimately be and signaling challenges ahead.

Here are five takeaways from the Lima Call for Climate Action that negotiators adopted in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Five Takeaways from the Lima Climate Talks by Ben Geman and Clare Foran, National Journal, Dec 14, 2014

Latif: USA and Europe must act first on climate

Climate summits have been held for 20 years now, but global warming continues. If the UN cannot succeed, who is responsible for saving the climate? DW asks climate expert Professor Mojib Latif.

Latif: USA and Europe must act first on climate by Irene Quaile, Deustche Welle (DW), Dec 15, 2014

Lima agrees deal – but leaves major issues for Paris

After a 25-hour extension, delegates from 195 countries reached agreement on a “bare minimum” of measures to combat climate change, and postponed big decisions on a new treaty until the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21), to be held in a year’s time in Paris.

After 13 days of debates, COP 20, the meeting of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), failed to resolve key issues such as the monitoring of each country’s commitment to emissions reductions, recognition of loss and damage caused by climate alterations and immediate actions, representatives of observer organisations told IPS.

The agreed document was the third draft to be debated. The Lima Call for Climate Action, as it is known, stipulates that countries must propose national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by October 2015. 

Lima Agrees Deal – but Leaves Major Issues for Paris by Diego Arguedas Ortiz, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 14, 2014

Lima climate change talks reach global warming agreement

International negotiators at the Lima climate change talks have agreed on a plan to fight global warming that would for the first time commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan, agreed at United Nations talks on Sunday, was hailed as an important first step towards a climate change deal due to be finalised in Paris next year. The proposals call on countries to reveal how they will cut carbon pollution, ideally by March next year.

“As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Peruvian environment minister, who presided over the talks.

However, negotiators acknowledged they had put off the most difficult decisions for later.

Lima climate change talks reach global warming agreement by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Dec 14, 2014

Lima climate talks fall short, making 2015 breakthrough less likely

Lack of real progress at a climate conference in Lima that ended in the early hours of Sunday morning harms the chances of reaching a global agreement next year that effectively curbs climate change and deals with its impacts, experts said.

Countries are meant to reach an agreement on how to deal with climate change beyond 2020 at a meeting in Paris at the end of 2015. A deal would impact global energy, transport and development policy for decades to come.

Lima had a straightforward agenda: agree the scope and schedule for the Paris agreement.

But countries split on both big fundamentals and many of the details of a future agreement, and the meeting ended with a far more modest agenda than many had hoped for.

Lima climate talks fall short, making 2015 breakthrough less likely by Gerard Wynn, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Dec 14, 2014

New climate treaty struggles to reconcile rich and poor

They fought about money, categories and assessments. They skirmished over scopes and road maps and timetables.

But the true battle consuming leaders from 198 governments at a U.N. global warming conference that concluded yesterday after two weeks of negotiations and 32 hours of overtime debating was really about just one thing: balancing responsibilities between poor, rich and richer nations.

"This, in a way, begins the future of whatever will follow as a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol, so it is from one generation to another. So for that reason, it is difficult," said France's ambassador for climate change, Laurence Tubiana. Her country hopes to host the signing of a new global agreement next year in Paris. 

New Climate Treaty Struggles to Reconcile Rich and Poor by Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire/ScientificAmerican, Dec 15, 2014

The sad future of our planet

It is now official: the current inter-governmental system is not able to act in the interest of humankind.

The U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima – which ended on Dec. 14, two days after it was scheduled to close – was the last step before the next Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, where a global agreement must be found.

In Lima, 196 countries with several thousand delegates negotiated for two weeks to find a common position on which to convene in Paris in one year’s time. Lima was preceded by an historical meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which the world’s two main polluters agreed on a course of action to reduce pollution.

Well, Lima has produced a draft climate pact, adopted by everybody, simply because it carries no obligation. It is a kind of global gentlemen’s agreement, where it is supposed that the world is inhabited only by gentlemen, including the energy corporations.

This is an act of colossal irresponsibility where, for the sake of an agreement, not one solution has been found. The “big idea” is to leave to every country the task of deciding its own cuts in pollution according to its own criteria.

The sad future of our planet, Commentary by Roberto Savio, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 15, 2014

UN agrees way forward on climate change – but path is unclear

overnments took a step back from chaos in the climate change discussions in Lima and found a way forward on Sunday, albeit with some fudges and compromises, giving themselves just 12 months to finalise a crucial international agreement to avoid dangerous levels of global warming.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister, who had skilfully presided over more than two weeks of fraught negotiations, announced that a deal had been struck by more than 190 countries.

The five pages of text, dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action, outline a way forward on hotly contested issues, including the process for countries to set out their pledges to cut annual emissions of greenhouse gases after 2020.

The overall aim remains the creation of an international agreement on climate change which is due to be settled at the next UN summit, COP21, to be held in Paris in December 2015.

UN agrees way forward on climate change – but path is unclear by Nicolas Stern, The Guardian, Dec 14, 2014

UN climate resolution in Lima increases pressure for domestic action

After more than two weeks of negotiations at the United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru, political leaders finally announced over the weekend that they had reached an agreement. For the first time, all countries, rich and poor, are expected to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing climate change.

The agreement calls on countries to publish their so-called nationally determined contributions to reducing global emissions ideally by March next year, and certainly ahead of the negotiations next December in Paris, where much of the detail is to be finalised.

Much lip service will be paid to the outcome in the coming days, especially the divisions between rich and poor countries, which have plagued the climate negotiations for almost two decades. But the question for many sitting back in their lounge rooms watching the evening news is do these negotiations matter?

UN climate resolution in Lima increases pressure for domestic action by Christine Downie, ABC, Dec 15, 2014

UN talks agree building blocks for new-style climate deal in 2015

About 190 nations agreed on Sunday the building blocks of a new-style global deal due in 2015 to combat climate change amid warnings that far tougher action will be needed to limit increases in global temperatures.

Under the deal reached in Lima, governments will submit national plans for reining in greenhouse gas emissions by an informal deadline of March 31, 2015 to form the basis of a global agreement due at a summit in Paris in a year's time.

Most of the tough decisions about how to slow climate change were postponed until then. "Much remains to be done in Paris next year," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

UN talks agree building blocks for new-style climate deal in 2015 by Alister Doyle and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, Dec 14, 2014

Weak deal at Lima climate talks disappoints climate hawks

The U.N. climate summit kicked off two weeks ago with an unfamiliar sense of optimism, invigorated by the recent agreement between the United States and China. But it ended with an all-too-familiar sense of disappointment.

On early Sunday morning, delegates delivered a vague, four-page document that does little more than set the terms for what the parties will be battling over at the next big summit in Paris a year from now.

After two weeks huddled in sweaty, sweltering tents (yes, many a “greenhouse effect” joke was made), the various negotiating blocs found themselves unable to agree on a handful of major issues. So in overtime sessions over the weekend, the stickiest of the sticking points were stripped out from one draft text after the next, until very little remained.

Green groups and citizens from vulnerable, developing nations bemoaned the lack of commitment and urgency.

Weak deal at Lima climate talks disappoints climate hawks by Ben Jervy, Grist, Dec 15, 2014

What will it take to get a climate accord in Paris?

The answer may lie in a process that climate specialists have come to call an 'ex ante' review of nations' climate pledges. Here's how it could work. 

What Will It Take to Get a Climate Accord in Paris? by John H Cushman Jr, InsdieClimate News, Dec 8, 2014

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Comments 1 to 5:

  1. Thanks, John Hartz, for a valuable summary of the range of opinions about the Lima talks. Let us hope that the more optimistic of these opinions will prove to be correct and that a treaty capable of rapidly reducing world-wide greenhouse gas emissions will be negotiated next year in Paris.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You're welcome. I'll be including more articles/commentary about what transpired in Lima and what lies ahead in future issues of the Weekly News Roundup.

  2. Is there any chance that the good folks who run this sight, whom we have come to trust and cherish, would consider weighing in with their own assessment of the outcome of the Lima talks?

    1 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thanks for the positive feedback and suggestion. I'll pass it on to the all-volunteer SkS author team.

  3. In my highly personal and not necessarily brilliantly informed opinion, there are basically 3 ways to make a deal:

    1/ Everyone caps their emissions now. This a no-equity solution where the rich countries stay rich (they got wealthy burning the fossil fuels and responsible for 70-80% of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere) and poor stay poor, but hey, if you dont stop emitting, then poor countries would cop the worst of effects.

    2/ The rich countries cut emissions to near zero  quite quickly and let poor increase emissions. This is equitable and doesnt involve wealth redistribution (at tax level) but good luck selling that to powerful rich countries where the required rate of emission drop would cause economic pain.

    3/ Rich countries take more modest drops (but still quite quick) and poor  make very modest increases, but get assistance in developing clean energy and development. Sounds reasonably equitable but runs into screams from rich countries about "my tax dollars getting siphoned by some rich dictator" and poor countries complaining of rich countries trying to run their affairs.

    All three options sound extremely difficult to sell to me. For rich countries the option of Screw-the-planet-because-I-wont-be-bearing-much-of-the-cost is all too appealing especially to their voters and most are democracies.

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  4. scaddenp @3, you forgot:

    4/  Everybody agrees now to an equal per capita limit and staged reduction of that limit, with the limit set based on populations at a fixed date so that countries that allow their population to increase cannot evade capping CO2. 

    This is a guaranteed equitable approach, although not perfectly equitable as it allows western nations a greater cumulative emissions.  This approach comes in two versions:

    4a/ The initial cap is set at a level achievable by the most polluting nations, and emissions trading is not permitted; and

    4b/  The initial cap is set at current global average per capita emissions, and trading of emissions permits between nations is permitted on the provisio that capital recieved in the trading is used to:

    i) invest in renewable energy and associated energy infrastructure;

    ii) climate adaption programs; or in countries with most need

    iii) programs addressing current structural causes of poverty or ill health.

    4b permits an immediate cessation of increases in net global emissions, while providing a larger incentive for rapid reduction of emissions in Western nations. 

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  5. To me, that is essentially the same as 3 but you providing detail of mechanism for carbon trading and for development. The essentials are the same: the rich emissions go down a little, the poor rise a little; poor get money for development. I think the objections are largely the same: how to ensure money flow from rich to poor (which restores some historical equity) goes to where you want it without interfering in governance of receiving state.

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