Lima Decision: Progress Is Made
The Lima conference finally closed its doors on Sunday, two days after its originally planned end date. The conference was critical because it was the last UNFCCC conference of the parties (COP) before the 2015 climate talks in Paris (COP 21), which is expected to deliver a new treaty for combating climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, the mood and tempo set at the Lima meeting has a significant impact on the quality of engagement and ultimately the outcome(s) of COP 21.
During the Lima conference, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) officially launched its 2014 emissions gap report that had been unveiled earlier on at a ceremony in Washington DC just days before the Lima conference. The new report underscored the need to act on climate change now rather than later. However, it also stressed that even if emissions of greenhouse gases are stabilized at a level that is consistent with the goal of UNFCCC, both the risks and the impacts of climate change are expected to increase significantly in coming decades.
A key agenda of COP 20 was climate finance – the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Financing climate change is crucial for operationalizing climate change mitigation and adaptation programs particularly in low-income countries. To this end the United Nations set a target of $10 billion, which it hoped to raise by the end of COP 20. The official GCF pledging meeting in Berlin last month brought pledges up to $9.3 billion. Some of the key contributors to the fund up to this point included United States ($3billion), Japan ($1.5billion), France ($1billion) and Germany ($1billion). Moreover, more pledges were recorded throughout the COP 20 period. A few noteworthy pledges include a $258 million pledge by Norway, a $62 million pledge by Belgium and a $165 million pledge by Australia. Essentially, COP 20 achieved and surpassed its set target of raising $10 billion in pledges for GCF. What that means is that the GCF can now begin considering financing adaptation initiatives in developing countries in order to enhance their climate change resilience.
In a message of hope and urgency during the Lima conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended the countries that made pledges to the GCF and made achieving the $10 billion target a reality. He further challenged the other ~190 parties to the UNFCCC that were present in Lima to ensure that the National Adaptation Plans of developing countries are brought to life by agreeing on a draft text that would be finalized in Paris 2015 and adopted as a new climate deal. Central to Ban Ki-moon’s take is the idea that mitigation, adaptation, and finance are interwoven and should therefore be approached as such.
Encouraged by Ban Ki-moon’s message as well as the GCF achievement, delegates at the Lima conference seemed more committed than ever to arrive at a decision that would guide the negotiation of a new climate agreement in Paris 2015. Major differences between developed and developing countries emerged during the negotiations. Of particular interest was the insistence by developing countries that an agreement must be explicit about common but differentiated responsibilities, with the industrialized nations taking the bigger share of responsibility. When the industrialized nations eventually agreed to this demand, a deal was reached that has since been termed the Lima decision. Reactions to the deal have been mixed, but it remains an important step on the road to a comprehensive solution in Paris next year.