Why the Lima COP is a step backwards in averting climate
early hours of December N THE 13, as I was leaving San Borja in Lima, the venue of the 20th Conference of the Parties (cop) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc), the negotiators from 195 countries had just been handed over a draft text from the co-chairs for consideration. Twenty-four hours later,by the time my flight landed in Amsterdam,the deal was done and the final text was out. The text, titled Lima Call to Climate Action, this time was from the president of the cop.
In the last 24 hours of the Lima talks, co-chairs were sidelined, their draft decision was rejected, and the cop president Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is also Peru’s environment minister, was asked by the Parties to prepare a new text, taking into consideration the views of different groups of countries.Ultimately,the Parties accepted the text proposed by the president.
In between the presentation of the two texts—one by the co-chairs and the other by the cop president—both developed and developing countries made compromises. They always do.But the question is who benefited and who lost from these compromises? Will these compromises help achieve an effective climate deal in Paris in 2015?
For the sake of clarity, Lima Call to Climate Action does not promise any new commitment from the Parties either on emissions cuts or on finance and technology transfer.It is nothing more than a template for the Parties to continue their negotiations at Paris, where a new global deal on climate change is to be signed to replace the existing Kyoto Protocol from 2020.
From day one of the Lima talks, the fight was on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (indcs)—climate action plans that countries have agreed to submit before the Paris meeting. Lima cop was to finalise the kind of information that Parties
should submit on indcs so that their contributions could be compared and evaluated. The fight was on what all will go into the information and how the information would be used.(See ‘The Lima diary’on p30.)
Developed countries insisted that indcs were only about emissions cuts, or mitigation. Developing countries, on the other hand, wanted indcs to include actions they would take in adapting to the changing climate as well as finance and technology support they would need from developed countries to undertake mitigation and adaptation. Developing countries also wanted the Lima text to reflect their desire to have strong commitments on “loss and damage”in Paris.
At the 19th Climate Conference in Warsaw in 2013, Parties had agreed to establish an international mechanism for “loss and damage”to help vulnerable developing countries cope with impacts of climate change,such as extreme weather events.However,as per the Warsaw decisions, the discussion is scheduled to take place in 2016, a year after the Paris agreement. Developing countries, mainly the least developed and small island nations, however, want stronger commitments, especially financial, in Paris for loss and damage. They did not want this decision to be left for 2016 and,therefore, wanted the Lima text to reflect this.
This fight over what would go into indcs took an ugly turn and almost derailed the talks in Lima. Developing countries accused the co-chairs— Artur Runge-Metzger from Germany and Kishan Kumarsingh fromTrinidad and Tobago—of partisanship and doing the bidding of the developed countries, especially the members of the European Union.
There were other issues in indcs as well. The vexing issue was related to the ex-ante review of indcs.The EU had proposed that well before the Paris cop,countries should submit their indcs, which should be formally reviewed for equity and ambition. It also wanted a review of how all indcs add up to meet the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2oC.
In the beginning of the second week itself, India made it clear that it did not want any review of indcs as it feared that such a review would be an unnecessary intrusion into its “national sovereignty”. In simple terms, India considers indcs as domestic pledges and does not want anyone to say whether its pledges are equitable or ambitious or not. India was supported by the Like Minded Developing Countries (lmdc)—a group that includes developing countries as varied as Bolivia,Saudi Arabia and China.
The US also desired such a position.So none of the big polluters, except the EU, had any interest in the ex-ante review of indcs.
at Lima for emission cuts
Delegates scramble for a copy of the revised
PHOTOGRAPHS: ARJUNA SRINIDHI / CSE