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:
Lima Climate talks end with little progress (Friends of the Earth)
Lima Summit shows climate politics lagging behind real world momentum (CAN International)
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.
- #FastfortheClimate grew into a global movement, turning day one of the Lima climate talks into the largest climate fast on record.
- In spite of examples of fossil fuel companies trying to foul up the process and spoil countries’ appetites for climate action – a growing number of businesses are pushing for climate action.
- On the sidelines of the conference, the Global Climate and Health Alliance gathered members of the medical community from around the world to discuss the impacts of air pollution, the role of cities in combating climate and health problems and how the medical community can reduce its emissions. They leave Lima better informed and better equipped to confront some of the most immediate impacts of fossil fuels and the climate changes they’re driving.
- Governments also fell short on putting human rights safeguards into the UNFCCC’s various mechanisms and policies affecting communities around the world – especially indigenous communities. But the brave efforts by widows of murdered Peruvian anti-logging activists helped the world understand why safeguards are essential. Our partners will continue efforts to add human rights to the UN climate convention throughout the coming year.
- Indigenous communities from across Peru also joined in a Human Banner action to highlight the major threats facing these communities.
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.
- While not reflected in Lima’s outcome, our increased pressure on governments is having an impact. For the first since 2009, the Climate Action Tracker’s annual report analysing the gap between government pledges on climate change and what is needed to stay below the 2C threshold has calculated a lower projection for warming.
- Germanwatch’s annual Global Climate Risk Index and Climate Change Performance Index 2015 give us a more clear picture of countries’ climate change vulnerability and climate action plans to date.
- CAN International awarded the government of Australia the extremely dubious honor of Fossil of the Year for persistent efforts to exemplify the role of a bad actor in international and national efforts to forge climate solutions. At it’s current rate, according to Climate Action Tracker analysis, Australia’s emissions are set to soar by 2020.
- A group of our allies in the global south are helping us understand and communicate how much each country needs to do to fight climate change, with a new tool illustrating countries’ Climate Fairshares.
- The impressive ACT 2015 consortium laid out its ideas on how an international climate agreement should look in order to be the strongest and most effective agreement possible.
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.
- To date, the global divestment movement has pushed 181 institutions and local governments and inspired thousands of individuals to divest from fossil fuels, representing a collective $50 billion in assets. In Lima, 350.org announced launched plans for a Global Divestment Day on February 13th!
- Oil Change International launched new research to help us target and eliminate the more than 26B in subsidies paid out of developed countries’ public coffers to support the fossil fuels exploration.
- While we didn’t get what we needed to deal on the ‘loss & damage’ caused by climate impacts beyond what can be adapted to – that work is moving forward. And our partners efforts for a levee on the world’s ‘carbon majors’ to fund a loss & damage mechanism is gaining traction.
- It’s increasingly clear that every proposed energy project should be put to the #climatetest.
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.
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 AuthorJoshua 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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