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December 1 – 14, 2014, Lima, Peru was the venue for the 20th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 20th Conference of the Parties — or COP 20.
The purpose of this conference was to create a universal agreement on climate change action and begin the process of financing mitigation.
The meeting ended with all nations agreeing to cut back greenhouse gas emissions. Known as the Lima Accord, this treaty is not legally binding and countries do not have to specify how much they will cut back, instead agreeing to report their plans back by March 2015.
While for many it sounded like a successful outcome, others were disappointed, such as poor countries struggling to rebuild from current impacts of climate change who were alarmed at the disappearance of loss and damage commitments from the final text which has been part of the discussion for years.
The global climate movement, 350.org, summarized the disappointments and hopeful aspects of the meeting outcome, noting
- The new agreement does not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis
- Some good agreements – but no measures to ensure implementation
- Least developed and vulnerable nations left out in the cold
- Divestment (from fossil fuel reliance) is more important than ever
- Global momentum for real solutions is stronger than ever and will keep on going.
In trying to put a positive spin on the overall disappointment they felt, they concluded, “In the end, a global climate treaty is just one tool to combat climate change. Real change is going to continue to come from the grassroots. The UN Climate Talks continue to be a place where the world’s countries comes together to debate this crisis and people are putting in enormous efforts to make sure Paris [the next global meeting] won’t be like Copenhagen” which was full of disappointments despite big promises.
Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, was quite scathing of the meeting outcome saying that “political expediency won over scientific urgency”. She also noted that “Developed country governments couldn’t even manage to explain how they will deliver the long-promised US$100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020. In a move that seemingly dismissed the plight of the most vulnerable countries, they completely removed any meaningful language about ‘loss and damage’.”
Mainstream media reporting
As with almost every previous meeting (with occasional exceptions), mainstream media reporting was very poor given the importance of this global issue. Where the meeting was reported it was generally towards the end, and just sound bite type summaries saying all countries agreed to emission cuts and that this was a major improvement.
While the treaty continued to say it honors the long-standing “common but differentiated responsibilities” the mainstream media reporting (as in most years) has typically failed to provide explanation and context of this principle that has been an important part of these talks for over 2 decades; that poor and developing countries should not bear the same responsibilities as the developed ones (because they are not the cause of the anthropogenic carbon emissions over the previous decades that have led to this, which is detailed much more on this site’s page on climate justice).
A hint towards this principle may have been presented as a viewpoint of China or India, given the impression they are being obstacles, rather then explaining this principle in more context.
That was just one of the issues skirted over or omitted from common reporting. Others included issues on financing, technology support for poorer nations, etc. Behind the scenes, for decades, rich countries have stalled on these things or actively avoided trying to share technology etc, which is barely reported.
Every year, this criticism is made of mainstream reporting, so without following these negotiations each year, it can be easy to come away with the impression that this meeting had a positive outcome.
But as this discussion hosted by Democracy Now! shows, there were a number of important issues of contention:
In context: common but differentiated responsibilities
Many years ago all nations agreed that climate change was largely the result of actions from today’s industrialized nations, as carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — stays in the atmosphere for decades. Yet, the poorest would end up suffering the most for a problem they largely did not cause. The approaches to mitigation (emissions reduction) would therefore be different for those groups of countries — the common but differentiated responsibilities principle.
It is in this context that the discussion for loss and damage has come about. And it is something that rich countries are keen to get rid of .
The years of resistance on this issue (and many others) means each time it is discussed again the reactions seem to get even more hostile. Combined with the lack of detailed context in the mainstream media coverage of this aspect, it then becomes easier each time to see culprits as China and India given their enormous greenhouse emissions in recent years, compared to the far greater amount by the industrialized nations over the longer period. See this site’s section on climate justice for more detailed background.
And as this site has said for years on the climate justice page, the rich nations are delaying any meaningful action until it is eventually — and disproportionately — paid for the by the developing nations. New Delhi based Nitin Sethi, associate editor at Business Standard, interviewed in the earlier mentioned video says the same thing, but more frankly:
There is no action that’s going to happen between now and 2020. All of that was to be done by the developed countries. They [rich nations] basically have just said at Lima that “we are not going to do any more than what we’re doing so far, and the burden can shift onto the post-2020 era, where other developing countries have to share it.” So, to me, it indicates really negotiation in bad faith.
— Nitin Sethi, Emissions-Cutting Deal Reached at COP 20 Lima, But Will It Help Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?, Democracy Now!, December 15, 2014
As the conference is still underway as this page is written, more information will be added here after the event is over.
For more about the issues from other organizations, here are some starting points:
- Official United Nations section on COP20
- Updates from the Third World Network
- Coverage from Democracy Now! including useful news videos
- COP20 background from WWF
News stories from IPS
Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Lima climate conference and its aftermath.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 22 (IPS) - The Paris Climate Agreement is on the verge of coming into force after 31 nations officially deposited their instruments of ratification here Wednesday, more than doubling the number of countries which have joined so far to reach 60.
Saturday, September 03, 2016
STOCKHOLM, Sep 03 (IPS) - With the clock counting down towards the November climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, where parties to the climate treaty agreed in Paris will negotiate implementation, it's clear that managing water resources will be a key aspect of any effective deal.
Thursday, September 01, 2016
HONOLULU, Hawaii, Sep 01 (IPS) - U.S. President Barack Obama has stressed the urgency of tackling climate change in a speech to Pacific leaders in his home state of Hawaii.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
ROME, Jul 27 (IPS) - Climate change and related extreme weather events have devastated the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of most vulnerable people worldwide-- by far exceeding the total of all the unfortunate and unjustifiable victims of all terrorist attacks combined. However, the unstoppable climate crisis receives just a tiny fraction of mainstream media attention. See these dramatic facts.
Monday, July 25, 2016
ROME, Jul 25 (IPS) - No longer it is about restoring the legitimate rights of over 370 indigenous peoples spread across 70 countries worldwide, many of them living in dire situation, but now about their central, critical role in combating climate change.
Monday, July 25, 2016
TAIPEI, Jul 25 (IPS) - For acclaimed Indian novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh, the future of humankind as global warming impact events spread worldwide looks grim. So grim that the 60-year-old pamphleteer has titled his new book of three climate-related essays "The Great Derangement."
Sunday, June 12, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 12 (IPS) - Addressing antibiotic resistance will require a global political response similar to the way the world has reacted to climate change or HIV / AIDS, Sweden's Minister of Public Health Gabriel Wikstrom, told IPS recently.
Monday, June 06, 2016
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 06 (IPS) - Climate change is now adding new layers of complexity to the nexus between migration and the environment.
Monday, May 09, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, May 09 (IPS) - Helping at-risk communities adapt to climate change impacts is an important part of the Paris Climate Change agreement, but adaptation will not be complete without considering disaster risk.
Friday, May 06, 2016
LIVINGSTONE, Zambia, May 06 (IPS) - Merian Kalala, a farmer in Solwezi, capital of the North-Western Province of Zambia, knows firsthand that climate change is posing massive problems for agricultural productivity.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 26 (IPS) - The 134 members of the Group of 77 and China (G-77) made their mark on the Paris Climate Change Agreement and should now adopt a program of action to implement it, Ambassador Ahmed Djoghlaf told IPS in a recent interview.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 23 (IPS) - As countries came together at the United Nations this week to sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement, partnerships were forged between countries of the global South to support the implementation of the global treaty.
Friday, April 22, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 22 (IPS) - An unprecedented 175 countries are expected to sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement here Friday, with 15 developing countries taking the lead by also ratifying the treaty.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
CAIRO, Apr 21 (IPS) - "Africa's human existence and development is under threat from the adverse impacts of climate change – its population, ecosystems and unique biodiversity will all be the major victims of global climate change."
Monday, April 18, 2016
CAIRO, Apr 18 (IPS) - This is not about any alarming header—it is the dramatic conclusion of several scientific studies about the on-going climate change impact on the Middle East region, particularly in the Gulf area. The examples are stark.
Friday, April 15, 2016
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 15 (IPS) - With Kenya's meteorological records over the last 50 years indicating increased irregularity and variability in precipitation, the effects of changing climate are hitting hard. Rising temperatures as well other forms of extreme weather events in form of droughts and floods are a common feature.
Friday, April 01, 2016
WASHINGTON DC, Apr 01 (IPS) - On March 29, Papua New Guinea became the first country to formally submit the final version of its national climate action plan (called a "Nationally Determined Contribution," or NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The small Pacific nation's plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is no longer just an "intended" nationally determined contribution (INDC) – it is now the country's official climate plan.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 02 (IPS) - The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to "well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels," it has also agreed to pursue efforts to "limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C."
Friday, January 29, 2016
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 29 (IPS) - The Paris climate change conference brought together 197 countries and over 150 Heads of State – the largest convening of world leaders in history – to agree on measures and work together to limit the global average temperature rise.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
PEMBA, Zambia, Jan 27 (IPS) - With El Nino affecting countries in southern Africa, threatening agricultural production due to a massive heat wave, the World Food Programme has urged the international community to support the upscaling of climate smart agricultural technology for resilience.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 13 (IPS) - On a very dry November 2013, Jamaica's Meteorological Service made its first official drought forecast when the newly developed Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) was used to predict a high probability of below average rainfall in the coming three months.
Friday, January 08, 2016
GEORGETOWN, Jan 08 (IPS) - Funding to address the financial flows needed for adaptation and mitigation of climate change remains an issue of concern for the Caribbean.
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
SANTO DOMINGO, Jan 06 (IPS) - Environmentally committed journalists in the Caribbean point to a major challenge for media workers: communicating and raising awareness about the crucial climate change agreement that emerged from the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
KAMPALA, Dec 23 (IPS) - Ugandan farmers are increasingly inter-planting coffee, the country's primary export, and banana, a staple food, as a way of coping with the effects of climate change.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
PARIS, Dec 13 (IPS) - After 2 weeks of intense negotiations, on Saturday evening, the 21st UN climate conference (COP21) in Paris finally delivered a historic agreement that, for the first time, promises to keep the global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. The treaty, consisting 31 pages and signed by by 196 countries, include the big five steps of climate action:
Sunday, December 13, 2015
PARÃS, Dec 13 (IPS) - The impossible was made possible. Governments from 195 countries around the world emerged here with the first universal agreement to cut greenhouse gases emissions and reduce the negative impacts of climate change.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
PARIS, Dec 12 (IPS) - The link between women in climate change is a cross-cutting issue that deserves greater recognition at climate negotiations. It is pervasive, touching everything; from health and agriculture to sanitation and education.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
PARIS, France, Dec 10 (IPS) - As the climate conference advances into its final stages amid the colossal challenge of having 195 countries agree on a single and unified global policy on climate change, urban areas appear a a different issue but complementary solution for all.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
LILONGWE, MALAWI, Dec 03 (IPS) - The government of Malawi has been struggling to end poverty since independence in 1964, banking its strategies on the proceeds from its agro based economy. Sadly, climate change entered the scene and dramatically disrupted the farming sector.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
ROME, Dec 03 (IPS) - Investing in a low carbon infrastructure, particularly renewable energy, is key to addressing climate change. The really big investment challenges are in the developing world where access to modern energy services is far below what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; indeed, almost two billion people still lack access to electricity.
- Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction
- UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action
- Action on climate change is cheaper than inaction
- Global Warming, Spin and Media
- Climate Justice and Equity
- Climate Change Flexibility Mechanisms
- Carbon Sinks, Forests and Climate Change
- Climate Change Affects Biodiversity
- Global Warming and Population