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CLIMATE POLICY
15 December 2014 | by Gabor Chodkowski-Gyurics

Lima climate talks make road to Paris climax even bumpier

Lima climate talks make road to Paris climax even bumpier
The climate summit in Peruvian capital Lima yielded little in terms of decisions needed for the world to reduce global warming to maximum 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, as parties remained divided over finance and carbon emissions measures.

The Lima meeting was the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While the talks began on a high note, with major polluters US and China unveiling a mutual agreement on emissions reduction shortly before the conference, they soon stagnated over the fundamental issue of climate action’s priorities.

FLEXIBILITY OF PLEDGES

Mitigation - i.e. reduction of carbon emissions - is a priority for developed countries and groups like the European Union. It was confirmed in Lima that by March 2015, countries are expected to come up with their emissions reduction pledges, but the pledges will not be subject to any review process, nor is the March deadline binding.

Finally, pledges will not be assessed in terms of their relevance for the objective of limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, the overall goal of the global agreement that countries negotiate.

Instead, emissions reduction pledges will be tabled by countries “in a position to do so” and pledges will need to go beyond their “current undertaking” on reduction.

CLIMATE FINANCE IN LIMBO

These mitigation measures were watered down in the context of another big dispute in Lima, on adaptation to climate change’s effects. Adaptation is seen as priority by the developing nations that demand from the developed nations to come forth with a more substantial financial backing to roll out adaptation measures, at least in partial recognition of the industrialized world’s historic responsibility for concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The financial aspect of the Lima’s outcome text, however, defers most of the difficult decisions for 2015, including the next global conference, starting in Paris on November 30, 2015.

Developing countries were critical after the Lima conference that, apart from the Green Climate Fund reaching initial capitalisation of $10 billion, developed countries were slow to make any other decisions on climate finance.

“It is ridiculous,” India’s minister of environment Prakash Javadekar told The Guardian. "It is ridiculously low. We are upset that 2011, 2012, 2013 – three consecutive years – the developed world provided $10 billion each year for climate action support to the developing world, but now they have reduced it. Now they are saying $10bn is for four years, so it is $2.5 billion,” he said.

Developing countries are pressing for climate finance to reach $100 billion a year by 2020 and a similar level after 2020. These figures will be a central point of negotiations in Paris in late 2015.

The Lima outcome text drew criticism from multiple NGOs and environmental campaigners, who deemed the outcome to be lackluster and endangering the success of the critical talks in Paris.

“We are on a path to three or four degrees with this outcome,” Tasneem Essop, international climate strategist for WWF told The Guardian. “We are really unhappy about the weakening of the text. This gives us no level of comfort that we will be able to close the emissions gap to get emissions to peak before 2020,” Mr. Essop added.

According to a recent report from Climate Action Tracker, current climate policies would limit warming to three degrees by 2100, one degree above the “safe” warming.





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