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2014 SkS News Bulletin #7: LIMA COP20 / CMP10

Posted on 27 December 2014 by John Hartz

This News Bulletin is a second 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.

An international climate change negotiations glossary

Do you know your Bali Action Plan from your Kyoto Protocol? Thousands of politicians, diplomats, and NGOs are currently meeting in Lima, Peru, as part of an international process to agree a global response to climate change.

The negotiations are now more than 20 years old, and have developed a language all of their own. Here's our guide to the key terms.

An international climate change negotiations glossary by Mat Hope, Dec 11, 2014

Australia comes in from the cold as Lima deal leaves lots to do

The world is a step closer to a new climate agreement that will see all countries, not just developed ones, take action on greenhouse emissions after 2020. The two-week Lima climate summit, which ran two days beyond its scheduled Friday finish, was a reminder of just how hard it is to get all countries on board. But the process is largely on track, and Australia will be under scrutiny to come up with a meaningful post-2020 emissions target.

The Lima agreement asks countries to set out their climate pledges early next year. Yet it leaves wriggle-room for countries to submit late in the process and stops short of requiring countries to submit quantitative emissions targets. It also leaves many issues open, with time pressure rising to agree a deal by next December’s talks in Paris.

Australia comes in from the cold as Lima deal leaves lots to do by Frank Jotzo, The Conversation AU, Dec 14, 2014

Behind the scenes at the Lima climate conference with WRI

This month I attended the UN climate conference for the first time after years of following from afar. Observing 10 days of the two-weekCOP20 process in Lima, I learned that while the negotiations themselves are crucial, what happens outside the negotiating hall can be equally important.

WRI was very actively engaged: the Institute released five publications, hosted or co-hosted almost 50 events and had speakers on dozens of panels. All this in addition to tracking the negotiations closely and working behind the scenes in pursuit of an ambitious, effective climate agreement.

Were the talks a success? A WRI wrap-up blog post offers detailed analysis of the draft agreement and underlying trends in the talks. Jennifer Morgan, global director of WRI’s climate program and the lead author of ACT2015 Elements and Ideas for a Paris Agreement, offered a realistic but hopeful assessment: “A global climate agreement is now within reach,” she said.

Behind the Scenes at the Lima Climate Conference with WRI by Lawrence MacDonald, World Resources Institute (WRI), Dec 17, 2014

China climate negotiator says Lima deal ‘balanced’

Chinese media coverage of the Lima climate change talks included comments by the country’s top climate negotiator who described the deal reached as “balanced”.

Xie Zhenhua told the state news agency Xinhua that the outcome was “within” the Chinese delegation’s expectation. However he said: “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”.

Xie added that the summit is an important step towards next year’s summit in Paris but that those “negotiations will be more challenging and require parties to show greater flexibility”.

China climate negotiator says Lima deal ‘balanced’ by Jennifer Duggan, The Guardian, Dec 15, 2014

Good COP, bad COP: Winners and losers at the Lima climate conference

Representatives of 190 countries agreed the Lima Call for Climate Action early on Sunday morning, recommitting countries to preventing temperatures rising by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

None hailed the deal as a triumph, and no single actor came away feeling totally satisfied with what went on over the last two weeks, or what looks set to come over the next year. But there were small victories smattered throughout the text.

We review the deal, and identify Lima's winners and losers.

Good COP, bad COP: Winners and losers at the Lima climate conference by Mat Hope, The Carbon Brief, Dec 15, 2014

In climate talks, soft is the new hard – and that’s a good thing

This piece takes the long view in gauging efforts to stem global warming and its impacts using the tools of diplomacy. It is not about the details of the outcome of climate treaty talks that concluded yesterday in Lima, Peru. (Here’s what parties sought; here’s the final sketchy result.)

Below, I’ll explain why I see recent shifts in the process as a good thing, despite — and, in fact, because of — the lack of specifics. I’ll also post some thoughts from a batch of longtime climate-policy analysts on this idea of “soft” climate diplomacy.

In Climate Talks, Soft is the New Hard – and That’s a Good Thing by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Dec 15, 2014

Is the Lima deal a travesty of global climate justice?

At one point on Saturday night it looked quite likely that the Lima climate talks would collapse in disarray. Instead of the harmony expected between China and the US following their pre-talks pact, the world’s two largest economies were squaring off; workmen were dismantling the venue; old faultlines between rich and poor countries were opening up again and some countries’ delegations were rushing to catch their planes.

In the end, after a marathon 32-hour session where everyone stared into the abyss of total failure, a modicum of compromise prevailed. Some deft changes of emphasis in the revised text and the inclusion of key words such as “loss” and “damage” proved just enough for diplomats to bodge a last-minute compromise.There were cheers and tears as the most modest of agreements was reached. The Peruvian president of the UN climate change convention, or Cop20, could say without irony: “With this text, we all win without exception.”

Not so. Countries may technically still be on track to negotiate a final agreement in Paris next year, but the gaps between them are growing rather than closing and the stakes are getting higher every month. 

Is the Lima deal a travesty of global climate justice? by John Vidal, The Guardian, Dec 15, 2014

Lima deal represents a fundamental change in global climate regime

It was the agreement that everyone wanted, yet no-one much liked. This year’s annual UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru, finally concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning, more than 24 hours after the scheduled close, after fierce argument in the final days.

Negotiators from 196 countries patched together a compromise which keeps the show on the road towards to a new global climate agreement in Paris next year, but in doing so left almost everyone unhappy with one element or another.

Many of the critics, however, have missed the point. The Lima deal is weak in many respects. But it also represents a fundamental breakthrough in the shape of the global climate regime.

Lima deal represents a fundamental change in global climate regime by Michael Jacobs, The Guardian, Dec 15, 2014

Paris climate talks may have to pay for Lima compromise

Is the outcome at Lima a recipe for a weak climate deal in Paris? Compromises on many key issues in the draft negotiating text that will serve as the basis for the next round of negotiations, beginning in February in Geneva, hint at such a possibility. 

Countries from both sides - developed and developing - accommodated each-other's concerns in the agreed text, but it still left many loopholes in the draft that may allow rich nations to maneuver their positions in the run up to Paris. 

The concerns are articulated by NGOs across the globe who found that the Lima outcome fell short of expectation as it was guided more by "political expediency" than the scientific urgency and need of vulnerable countries.

Paris climate talks may have to pay for Lima compromise by Vishwa Mohan, The Economic Times, Dec 21, 2014

Rich nations must fund stabilization of climate: IPCC chief

At a time when the developing world is worried over the rich nations' reluctance to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) R K Pachauri remains hopeful that the developed world would be more forthcoming once all countries provide their 'Intended Nationally Determined Contributions' (INDCs) or in other words a clear roadmap of their voluntary actions to fight the threat of climate change. 

Pachauri, who is also member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Council on Climate Change, in an interview to TOI spoke on a range of issues including outcome of the Lima talks, the course of action India should adopt to move to a low-carbon growth path, and the future of GCF--meant to help developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation goals. 

Rich nations must fund stabilization of climate: IPCC chief by Vishwa Mohan, Times of India, Dec 24, 2014

The real outcome of global warming talks in Lima: A future for coal

There will be coal burning.” Negotiators from around the world produced a four-page climate-change accord(pdf) after some sleep-deprived haggling over the weekend in Lima, Peru, but the agreement could be summed up in those five words.

For the first time, all nations agreed that all nations must have a plan to curb greenhouse gases. That includes not just reducing pollution(“mitigation” in the jargon), but also “adaptation” (preparing for the climate changes already in the works), “finance” (money for the poor), “technology development” (better ways to get energy or reduce pollution), “capacity building” (helping poor countries develop) and “transparency” (ensuring nobody cheats).

The Real Outcome of Global Warming Talks in Lima: A Future for Coal, Op-ed by David Biello, Scientific American, Dec 16, 2014

The role of religions at COP 20

This is a story about a green candle. And about some of the religious impact during the last UN Conference on Climate Change.

I participated by leading the delegation of the Lutheran World Federation and working with the international movement Fast for the Climate.

So, what can religious actors and people of faith bring to these negotiations?

Is there any use for a Faith Based Organization (FBO) at all to spend time, money, energy in these conferences?

The Role of Religions at COP 20 by Carloine Richter, The Huffington Post, Dec 18, 2014

Why the Lima climate talks sucked for women and indigenous people

As a credentialed observer inside the COP20 in Lima last week, I was bored to tears. Endless speeches. Panel discussions in dark rooms. Men in expensive suits. My colleague Nnimmo Bassey, a leading Nigerian environmental justice activist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award, blogged, “Negotiation arenas remain places for fiddling while Rome burns.”

Observers watched the opening ceremony on a big screen from the back of the hall. All the speakers, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said there was a need for transformation—for binding and universal agreements. They called for a higher level of ambition, as well as tangible progress on climate finance solutions such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF). They claimed that the delegates in Lima were more collaborative than at past COPs. The ceremony ended with a parade of dancers wearing a mix of what might have been indigenous costumes with a Hollywood flair. There was a lot of fanfare and little substance.

But outside the stuffy and nearly pointless convening, I was inspired. The voices for climate justice, especially those of indigenous peoples and grassroots women, were loud and clear.

Women are more than 50 percent of the world’s population. They are the most vulnerable to climate change and they have developed some of the best grassroots responses. As I have written before, solutions that ignore or leave women out are unsustainable at best and toxic at worst.

Why the Lima Climate Talks Sucked for Women and Indigenous People by Terry Odendahl, EcoWatch, Dec 19, 2014

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Thanks for these again.

    And again, I know you're all overworked volunteers, but I would still love it if one or more of you could, however briefly, give us your general take on these negotiations--were they a huge step backward as some seem to be saying, or a modest step forward, or some kind of side-ways Texas Two Step??

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  2. Wili,

    As reluctant as I am to consider MSM reports on this issue to be relatively unbiased I was pleasantly surprised by some of the BBC reporting. The following pair of reports seem to be reasoanbly balanced presentations of what happened. They do not necessarily add new information to the set of articles already identified in this post, but they seem to be fairly comprehensive summaries that indicate the Lima talks were a clear step in the right direction.

    UN members agree deal at Lima climate talks

    UN climate deal in Peru ends historic North-South split

    Nothing I saw reported in Canadian MSM came close to being a full reasonably balanced presnetation. They all seemed to want to claim it 'failed' to result in any meaningful action toward 2015 commitments in Paris to effectively reduce CO2 emissions.

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  3. wili,

    Here is a Rolling Stone article that points out reasons to hopeful about the Lima meetings.

    Inside the Lima Climate Change Summit: 5 Reasons to Be Hopeful

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