COP 20 Briefer – All Eyes on Lima as critical period for climate negotiations begins

Intro

The UN Climate Talks, otherwise referred to as COP 20, begin next week in Lima, Peru at a time when climate change has rocketed back to the top of the global political agenda. The Lima talks are an opportunity for governments to harness momentum that has been growing around the world for months and begin taking internationally coordinated action to address the global climate change crisis. In Lima, governments can move forward on an international action plan to be finalized in Paris at the end of next year, which aims to accelerate the ongoing transition away from dirty fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy. The foundation of any agreement in Paris will be built in Lima. That foundation includes getting nations to begin crafting Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), where countries will offer their plans for how to slash global carbon emissions so that the world’s warming is contained to no more than 2degC. The deadline for the INDC offers is March 2015, making Lima an opportunity for governments to put the finishing touches on what these commitments should contain, how long they should last, and how they should be presented. COP 20 is also an opportunity for governments to continue supporting the Green Climate Fund, which now has commitments for up to 9.6 billion in funding, but has an investment target of $100 billion by 2020. Politically, COP 20 comes at a pivotal time. In September, hundreds of thousands of individuals from New York to Mumbai took part in the People’s Climate March, where the demand for governments to act on climate was made at historic levels. Days later, the march was referenced by several leaders, including Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon as a reason to act. Weeks later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave even more reason to act when it clearly outlined the harsh consequences the world faces if climate change is left unaddressed. Since then, the US and China have made “game changing” agreements to begin reducing carbon emissions at unprecedented levels. In the last several days, nations began committing to contribute billions of dollars to the Green Climate Fund. With this momentum in the rear-view mirror and Paris now just a year away, COP 20 in Lima begins with much at stake.

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Key Points

  • The people, businesses, investors and scientists have spoken, climate is back on the global agenda and it’s time for governments to take action. Mass public mobilisations with hundreds of thousands on the streets, the UN Secretary General’s climate leaders summit, a growing trend towards clean energy investments, and a stark report from the world’s climate scientists are all part of a massive and diverse call for action on climate change. Together, these voices, which governments can no longer ignore, are calling on government leaders to scale up the ongoing transition away from climate change-driving fossil fuels towards renewable energy.
  • The Lima meetings are a chance for governments from around the world to build on the recent political momentum generated by China, the US and the EU. World leaders representing over half the world’s GDP and emissions have recently committed to policies that will accelerate the shift from dirty to clean energy – sending a strong political signal that these countries are serious about climate action. Lima is an opportunity to pressure other major emitters to put their own national action plans on the table early next year and step up commitments to keep global warming below the internationally agreed threshold of 2degC warming.
  • The national action plans due in March will be the world’s first collective signal to ending the fossil fuel age. Laying the groundwork for this paradigm shift in climate politics, negotiators in Lima can clarify exactly what these national climate commitments should contain and how they should be presented. Effective plans require assurances that all nations will stick to a carbon budget and commit to phase down carbon pollution, with rich countries also supporting poorer countries financially and technologically to act. The new IPCC concept of a global carbon budget shared by all nations and the bold NGO call for phasing down emissions to zero by 2050 have now both been added to new draft negotiating texts for Lima.
  • Lima is also a chance for the world’s developed countries to lead the way for worldwide action by living up to their commitments to the Green Climate Fund. Following commitments made at the G20 summit in Brisbane and a GCF pledging conference in Berlin, the fund now has USD 9.6 billion to support developing countries to cut their emissions and reduce the devastating impacts of climate change – it is now within striking distance of the USD 10-15 billion target set earlier this year. Major contributions from several key countries are encouraging. Now all nations need to help generate more public and private money to reach the internationally agreed goal of USD 100 billion by 2020.
  • The Lima meetings must provide some clarity for a pathway to Paris, where a new global climate agreement is due next December. To pave the way to a Paris agreement, governments can use Lima to get beyond restating well-worn positions, have some difficult discussions about the elements they need to include in their national action plans in March, and start drafting negotiating text which they can fine tune throughout 2015.
  • Governments have the power to take more action now and avoid the spiraling costs of increasingly severe climate disasters later. Scaling up action starting now to contain the world’s warming to 2degC,  will save money and reduce suffering down the road. Lima is an opportunity for governments to accelerate action and sign off on a UN platform that would support countries to roll out more renewable energy, invest in energy efficiency and build smarter ways of powering our lives. Lima is a chance to replace a broken system that is failing to run societies effectively, while avoiding false solutions and outdated business models promoted by vested interests.
  • The COP in Lima comes soon after a blockbuster IPCC report that says all countries need to aim for a rapid and complete phase-out of fossil fuels and a massive scaling-up of renewable energy. The IPCC report, which was endorsed by all of the world’s governments, states that economies must phase out emissions entirely and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Leaders can either become drivers of this transition and manage the risks facing the economies and societies they lead, or they can spend the rest of their careers cleaning up climate disaster after climate disaster.

 

Background

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise referred to as COP20 or CMP10, will be held in Lima, Peru, between December 1-12 of 2014. This will be the 20th yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Delegates to the Lima conference will continue negotiations towards a global climate agreement, with the overarching goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission (GHG’s) to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above current levels. The Lima conference will be especially important for a number of key policy issues, but it is also noteworthy because it is taking place a year ahead of what may seen as critical meetings in Paris in December 2015 and after a string of momentous occasion for the climate movement.

In September, hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets to call for climate action. Diverse communities from business to religious groups echoed their message, and thousands of scientists told world leaders we need to see real world action now to prevent irreversible climate impacts. In October, governments signed off on the latest scientific findings from the Intergovernmental Panel (IPCC) on Climate Change, which stated countries must rapidly phase-out fossil fuels and support a shift to low-carbon energy in order to avoid destabilising their economies through the spiraling cost of increasingly severe climate disasters.

In November, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, the US and China, agreed to a historic plan for China to slow, peak and then reverse the course of it’s carbon emissions with 2030 as a clear target for peaking the nation’s pollution. As part of the agreement the US pledged to double the pace at which it will reduce carbon pollution.” Days after the announcement was made, President Obama was in Brisbane, Australia for the G20 and proclaimed, “if China and the United States can agree on this, then the world can agree on this,” referring to the upcoming international process for addressing climate change. Obama’s remarks in Australia followed another announcement where the US pledged to commit up to $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which helps support developing countries cut their emissions and reduce the devastating impacts of climate change. The US commitment, along with a $1.5 billion contribution from Japan, brought the fund within $4 billion dollars of achieving the low end of the goal of raising $10-%15 billion for the fund by 2015. One week after the US and Japanese announcement, the organizers of the Green Climate Fund met in Berlin Germany  and announced that in all 21 countries were putting real money on the table, making the total pledged to the GCF $9.3 billion. The most notable contributions in Berlin came from the United Kingdom, which committed $1.1 billion to the GCF at the pledging session. Contributions from European nations were the largest per capita of all. the pledges made to date. Four developing nations: Mexico, Mongolia, Panama and the Republic of Korea, were also part of the pledging action, leaving those nations that failed to step up, such as Australia, and Poland, increasingly isolated. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said the capitalisation of the fund is one of the “wisest investments in the 21st century.” As the pledging session ended, Canada announced it would be adding another $300 million to the fund, bringing the contribution total up to $9.6 billion ahead of Lima.

While the Green Climate Fund news was encouraging news given it came just a week before the Lima talks, a sobering reality was revealed the day before when the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) released it’s annual Emissions Gap Report. The report found that, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are at levels that justify immediate action to a completely phase out fossil fuels. In Lima, governments can show that they have been emboldened by this stark message by making headway on an international action plan, to be finalized in Paris at the end of next year, which must accelerate the on-going transition away from dirty fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy. Beyond achieving increased contributions to the Green Climate Fund making progress on the individual climate action commitments (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – INDCs), due from all countries early next year, is seen a a key part of the Lima meetings. In Lima, the international community will put the finishing touches on what these commitments should contain, how long they should last, how they can be bolstered and how they should be presented. Many governments particularly (insert either strategic nations, tree nations or both) will be looked upon to match the initial ambition that major emitters such as US, China and the EU have shown on climate in recent months. All nations will be have an opportunity at Lima to confirm to the international community that they have a plan to redirect their economies away from their reliance on dirty fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy. Developed countries will be looked upon to demonstrate that they will provide adequate support, such as money and technological capacity, to empower developing countries to take their own climate action.

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Quotes

  • “In this Year of Climate Ambition, we are honoured to be supporting the Government of Peru in their leadership toward COP20-CMP10. The litmus test of success in Lima will be a clear draft of the universal agreement, a shared determination by all to deliver significant national contributions to build a low carbon resilient future, initial capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund, and the mobilisation of a broad coalition of actors turning potential into reality on the ground without delay.”Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC
  • “Lima is a crucial moment to reach a climate agreement in 2015. Together with all actors, the Presidency of COP20-CMP10 will lead the process and take actions on the principles of transparency and inclusiveness to build trust and confidence. We have the strong responsibility to facilitate a complex global negotiation process in a changing world, so we are focused on achieving realistic goals, building on the mandates and recognizing the process and actors. Based on sobering science we have the urgency to raise ambition and seize the opportunity to work together in Lima to change the world.” H.E. Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment of Peru and President-Designate of COP 20 and CMP 10
  • “The challenge of supporting economic growth and tackling climate change will be met in the world’s cities. Investing in public transport is good for citizens, good for business and good for the climate. This study shows that it is in the economic interest of the city and of its people to build better. Clear leadership is now needed to make this vision a reality.”Mayor of Lima Susana Villarán
  • “These talks come in the shadow of the one year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the most destructive storm in human history, as well as even more science that proves what we already know – the urgency of the climate crisis is only growing.  To confront it we must set a global limit on pollution over time, known as an ’emissions budget’ and share it fairly. Governments cannot shy away from the fact that these negotiations are about the emissions budget, and the issue must come front and centre here in Lima.” Lidy Nacpil, director of Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
  • “Negotiations on a new climate deal are struggling due to trust issues and broken promises. We were promised a legal second commitment period of Kyoto, we don’t have it. We were promised that emission cuts would be strengthened this year, we are yet to see a tangible commitment to this in the lead up to Lima. It’s time to walk the talk from Lima to Paris.” Mithika Mwenda, General Secretary of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
  • “This conference is the pivot point for the whole show next year. It may seem to be procedural but the structure and scope of international climate law will be decided here. Rich developed countries cannot be allowed to get away with the complete deregulation of international climate law – setting their own rules and limiting focus to only a few issues. A crisis the scope of climate change requires a comprehensive response and I am sure many developing countries, those most impacted by climate change they have not caused, will fight for that in Lima.” Meena Raman, negotiation expert at Third World Network
  • “Farmers facing devastated crops, and people forced from their homes by floods and rising sea levels, know that climate change is not just about controlling pollution. It’s also about dealing with the impacts of a changed climate now. If these negotiations do not help countries to deal with the real impacts of climate change, and only prioritise emission targets, they will have failed the very people this agreement is meant to protect.” Harjeet Singh, International Manager, Resilience and Climate Change at ActionAid International
  • “These talks have two things to deliver and the first is greater climate action pre-2020. A failure on pre-2020 action undermines not only the talks but ignores the warnings by climate scientists for more urgent and ambitious action, risking the lives and livelihoods of billions of people. The best way to fight climate change is to transform our energy systems away from our addiction to dirty energy – bringing energy to the billions who have none at the same time would be a win-win situation. Concrete proposals are on the table at the UN to address energy via a global feed-in-tariff scheme. These must be taken up here in Lima.”  Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate  at Friends of the Earth EWNI.
  • “For peoples in Latin America this conference is an opportunity to shine a light on an entire development model that is failing the people and killing the planet. Building economies on continuous extraction and continuous consumption only drives more climate change. The types of targets discussed by Europe and the United States don’t diverge from that script at all – they keep us on track for catastrophic climate change. However, the Peoples Summit in central Lima, and the march for human rights on the 10th, will be examples of people building real solutions and real alternatives like community controlled renewable energy, or agroecology.” Martin Vilela, coordinator of the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change.

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