Lima COP20 Climate Delegates Approve Draft Treaty

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UN SG Ban Ki-moon addresses 2014 Lima Climate Conference UN photo by Mark Garten

Concluding the UN climate conference in Lima, Peru, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the outcome. Praising the delegates, the UN chief congratulates the COP20 for paving the way to a “universal, meaningful” climate agreement in 2015.

For 12 days, the 196 Parties to the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), known also as Conference of the Parties (COP 20), hammered out the drafting of a critical climate treaty. Concluding on Sunday, December 14, the agreement reached in Lima is expected to be finalized next year in Paris. The 2015 universal treaty is slated to enter into force by 2020.

Lima Drafters Paving the Way to Paris

The message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was provided in a statement released by a UN spokesperson. “The decisions adopted in Lima, including the Lima Call for Climate Action, pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015.” The statement continues, “The Secretary-General urges all Parties, at their first meeting in February next year, to enter into substantive negotiations on the draft text of the 2015 agreement coming from the Conference.”

Mr. Ban applauded delegates for having made “important advances” in clarifying their needs for preparing and presenting their so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the new agreement and in “finalizing the institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”

INDCs are commitments that nations will make in order to help keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, which is the internationally-agreed limit set for defending the world from irreversible climate change damage.


“Ambitious National Commitments”

In his latest statement, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is calling on all parties, especially the world’s major economies, to submit their “ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris.”

The statement added that the UN chief is looking forward to working with both the Governments of Peru and France on a new Lima-Paris Action Agenda to “catalyse action on climate change to further increase ambition before 2020, and to support the 2015 agreement.”

The Secretary-General has been urging the delivery of Lima’s draft treaty text for some time. He has been calling for text providing a clear and solid foundation for the upcoming Paris negotiations, warning delegates during the Lima conference that “the more we delay, the more we will pay.”

Green Climate Fund Pledges Exceed $10bn Goal

The success of the Green Climate Fund commitments was also acknowledged in the statement, noting that the goal of $10 billion for the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund was surpassed. The Green Climate Fund is an initiative designed to direct funding from developed nations to those developing countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Stopping in on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the news regarding the Green Climate Fund. “The United States is very proud to be contributing 3 billion,” Kerry told the assembly of delegates, “and we are grateful for the announcement of countries like Australia, Belgium, Colombia, and Peru that they have made in recent days to help get us over the hurdle. All of this will help to ensure that this fund can succeed in helping the most overburdened nations of the world to do more to be able to respond to climate change.”


Kerry: “Industrialized Countries Have to Play a Major Role, but…”

Regarding the INDCs, Secretary Kerry said, “Now, of course industrialized countries have to play a major role in reducing emissions, but that doesn’t mean that other nations are just free to go off and repeat the mistakes of the past and that they somehow have a free pass to go to the levels that we’ve been at where we understand the danger.

“We have to remember that today more than half of global emissions – more than half – are coming from developing nations. So it is imperative that they act, too.”

Wrangling at the 5-Yard Line Runs Into Overtime

Asking nations to specify those actions ran the Lima Climate Talks into overtime. Arguing all day Saturday over the text of the draft treaty put delegates behind schedule by more than 30 hours.

Developing countries were concerned that wording was not clear enough regarding expectations set for climate change commitments which would be submitted for the final treaty in Paris. Finally alleviating these concerns, however, the approved draft stated that countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities” to deal with climate change.

The final draft treaty of Lima also requires that all nations’ commitments be reviewed a month ahead of Paris to evaluate the total combined effect on climate change. However, the final draft text states only that nations’ commitments “may,” as opposed to “shall,” include quantifiable data regarding their commitments for reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Analyses Are Like Opinions…

Coming out of the gate, analyses of the Lima draft are mixed. Developing nations want wealthier nations to pay more for putting us all in this bad position. Wealthier nations don’t want to pay the ticket for developing nations to continue spewing emissions at an irresponsible rate under an excuse of national development. Nations with heavily embedded fossil fuel economies will naturally be interested in subverting climate talks completely. And in the lead up to Paris, corruption will likely breed very noisy bedfellows.

On the other hand, willy-nilly progress is better than none at all. As John Kerry puts it, “At the end of the day, we have no choice.” Concluding his speech to the 2014 UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, Secretary Kerry grounds us all to the need at hand, saying:

“I am confident we can rise above the debates that have dragged us down. We can find a way to summon the shared resolve that we need to tackle this shared threat. And if we do that, then we will reach an agreement and we will meet this challenge. That is our charge, and for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and our responsibility as human beings on this earth, this is a charge we must keep. Thank you very much.”


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