Daily Tck: Lima climate talks fall short of expectations as attention shifts to Paris

• December 14, 2014
Creative Commons: Adopt a Negotiator, 2014

Creative Commons: Adopt a Negotiator, 2014

On early Sunday morning, a full thirty-one hours after the UN climate talks in Lima were scheduled to close, the gavel finally dropped. Climate Action Network led their response to the meetings outcome with the line ‘Lima summit shows climate politics lagging behind real world momentum.’ CJN wrote ‘No Justice in Lima Outcome‘. Labor’s presser headline read ‘Lima climate conference deceives, but not the climate movement.’ Government’s signed off on an outcome that neither reflects the growing public support for the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies nor the urgency to accelerate this transition.

While the Lima Decision reaffirmed that governments have to put the individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later.

On finance, governments reached their US $10 billion minimum capitalization goal for the Green Climate Fund. This was a welcome first step, but the momentum provided by the pledges to the Green Climate Fund got lost in translation. The Lima outcome did not provide further clarity about the pathway to the US $100 billion a year promised to support developing countries to take climate action. Finance was essentially kicked down the road to Paris. As a result much of the untapped potential for climate action in developing countries stands in further jeopardy, and faith in the process was undermined for some.

Concern over the level of support also complicated governments’ efforts to agree on what kind of information should go into their post-2020 climate action pledges, which are due in the first half of next year. They’ll need to provide information to help the world judge whether the pledges are adequate and equitable. There was an important agreement that no country can backslide from their prior commitments. But governments stepped back from plans for a robust assessment, which could have helped the world measure how each pledge is or is not contributing to a strong Paris agreement.

One of Lima’s biggest disconnects on display was the inability of governments to pick any of the low-hanging fruit provided by the recent explosive growth in the renewable energy – growth driven by plummeting prices over the last few years – apparently ignoring the enormous gap between their current commitments and the need to move quickly and strongly. Governments took no meaningful action to scale up climate action in the five years before 2020, the start date for the Paris Agreement. Instead countries are focused only on pledges for action starting after 2020.

In a positive contrast, negotiators here in Lima were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.

Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health. Increasingly domestic issues, whether they are elections or decisions about major projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline in the US and the Galilee basin in Australia, will be seen as a country’s intention on climate change. While governments were able to hide in Lima, they won’t have that luxury in Paris where the world will be expecting them to deliver an agreement. 

From our partners

Many of our partners have been reacting to the outcome both in Lima and around the world. In a press huddle after the conference, Christian Aid’s Mohamed Adow said that government’s needed to wake up to the action taking place around the world.

People have been marching across the streets in many countries around the world, scientists have been giving clear climate warnings, investors have been responding to that and divesting from fossil fuels. But negotiators here have not set us towards the deal we want.” 

Meanwhile, Oxfam’s Kelly Dent warns the finance pledges on the table fall far short of what vulnerable countries need.

Until we see finance being taken seriously, it is going to be very very difficult to see how we are going to get an agreement in Paris… Here in Lima this package did not deliver what was needed on finance. We know what’s needed, what is lacking is political will.”

Many more of our partners are also reacting to the outcome:

Fossil fuels fade as we focus on the world’s capitals (Greenpeace)

Lima Climate talks end with little progress (Friends of the Earth)

Lima climate conference deceives, but not the climate movement (ITUC)

Rough seas ahead for climate talks, Paris deal still on the horizon (Oxfam)

Lima Summit shows climate politics lagging behind real world momentum (CAN International)

Going forward

In spite of the government-negotiated outcome failing to advance our efforts, signs of growing momentum and calls for climate action were evident throughout the meeting.

We know more about how climate change will affect communities around the world; who is playing leadership roles; who to target for lagging; and how to piece together a global agreement that moves everyone forward.

We’ve sharpened our focus on the policies and players holding economies hostage to the fossil fuel dependency – and we’re better organized to target the policies and individual actors driving climate change around the world at a local, regional and national level.

From the negotiator trackers

The trackers offered up incredible play-by-play analysis of how Lima’s ADP decision text changed in the final hours of negotiations. You can track the ‘devolution’ of text from where countries started, to how the text was changed to match governments positions, who liked what and why, to where we landed.

David Tong takes a look at what could break the deadlock ahead of the next round of talks in Paris, and Denise Fontanilla looks at the battle to get a reference to loss and damage in the text.

You can find more coverage from inside the conference centre an analysis of the talks at http://adoptanegotiator.org

Tools and resources

See how the final days of the UN climate talks unfolded on our TckTckTck COP20 Live-blog.

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About the Author

Joshua Wiese is a project director at the Global Campaign for Climate Action. He runs the Adopt a Negotiator project and publishes our weekly Fresh Air Brief

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