COP20—Lima Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
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On this page:

  1. Introduction
  2. Meeting outcome
  3. Mainstream media reporting
  4. In context: common but differentiated responsibilities
  5. More information
  6. News stories from IPS

Introduction

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.

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Meeting outcome

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

  1. The new agreement does not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis
  2. Some good agreements – but no measures to ensure implementation
  3. Least developed and vulnerable nations left out in the cold
  4. Divestment (from fossil fuel reliance) is more important than ever
  5. 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’.

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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:

Emissions-Cutting Deal Reached at COP 20 Lima, But Will It Help Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?, Democracy Now!, December 15, 2014.

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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

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More information

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:

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News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Lima climate conference and its aftermath.

  1. Gender Sensitivity Key to Achieving Climate Justice

    - Inter Press Service

    Toronto, May 27 (IPS) - While the climate crisis affects virtually every aspect of life, its impacts are not felt equally.

  2. ‘Don’t work for climate wreckers’ UN chief tells graduates, in push to a renewable energy future

    - UN News

    Today’s college graduates can become the generation to succeed “where my generation has failed” the UN chief said on Tuesday, urging the class of 2022, not to work for “climate wreckers” in industries that continue to profit from fossil fuels.

  3. ‘We Have to Make Peace with Nature’: UN Deputy Chief meets inspiring young climate leaders in Indonesia

    - UN News

    A portable solar generator in a black case, and an eggplant grown in organic soil, were among the diverse items that a group of young climate leaders in Jakarta shared with the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed this weekend, embodying their own personal inspiration, and efforts to advance the fight against climate change.

  4. Climate change threatening access to water and sanitation

    - UN News

    Climate change is set to increase pressure significantly on people’s access to water and sanitation unless governments do more to prepare key infrastructure now, the UN warned on Friday.   

  5. No Climate Transition Without Securing Land Rights

    - Inter Press Service

    BERLIN, May 16 (IPS) - The 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is taking place in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022. The theme: “Land, Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.” “We are faced with a crucial choice,” Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told participants: “We can either reap the benefits of land restoration now or continue on the disastrous path that has led us to the triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution”

    The landmark land tenure decision by parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2019 offers a blueprint for upcoming climate negotiations in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

  6. UN joins faith-based initiative for shift towards climate-responsible finance

    - UN News

    The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) joined religious leaders and others on Monday in signing a landmark joint appeal for climate-responsible finance “as a moral imperative towards children”.

  7. International Day for Monuments and Sites spotlights climate change

    - UN News

    One in three natural sites and one in six cultural heritage sites are currently threatened by climate change, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, warned on Monday, the  International Day for Monuments and Sites.

  8. Stop the War: Act for Justice, Climate & Peace

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON / JOHANNESBURG, Apr 15 (IPS) - Russia’s war in Ukraine has left many communities facing catastrophe. In a world already wracked by multiple crises such as searing inequality and escalating climate change, this conflict is tearing through communities.

  9. Commonwealth Climate Finance Hub to Boost Belizes Delivery of Climate Change Projects

    - Inter Press Service

    Kingston, Apr 13 (IPS) - In September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK-based Commonwealth Secretariat announced that it had dispatched highly skilled climate finance advisors to four member nations to help them navigate the often-complicated process of accessing climate funds. Belize, the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) only Central American member, was one of the recipients.

  10. World Health Day: Take climate action, take care of each other

    - UN News

    An urgent call to protect health and mitigate the climate crisis was issued by the UN health agency on Wednesday, to mark World Health Day on Thursday.

  11. Sport must show leadership amidst climate crisis: UN deputy chief

    - UN News

    Athletes are among the most influential people on the planet and together with their managers, fans and others involved in organized sport, must contribute to global efforts to combat climate change. 

  12. Sport and climate change: Paralympic champion Tatyana Mcfadden explains the link

    - UN News

    Ahead of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we spoke with the best female wheelchair racer of all time. She is now raising her voice for climate action, and she explained why global warming threatens everyone, especially persons with disabilities, and how sport can contribute to protecting our planet.

  13. Warning: Climate Crisis Is Now the Single Biggest Health Threat Facing Humanity

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Apr 05 (IPS) - While the world’s top scientists and experts continue their arduous work to finally submit to politicians at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (7-18 November 2022), a new alert now emerges: the climate crisis has already become the single biggest health threat to humankind.

  14. 8 reasons not to give up hope - and take climate action

    - UN News

    Although once again the scientific community has made clear this week that we are not doing enough to limit global warming to the crucial 1.5°C threshold, the findings of the latest Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change report, are not all doom, and gloom.

  15. UN climate report: We’re on fast track to disaster, warns Guterres

    - UN News

    A new flagship UN report on climate change out Monday indicating that harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never been higher in human history, is proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, António Guterres has warned.

  16. The key to climate action and sustainable peace? Women’s full and equal participation

    - UN News

    Women and children increasingly bear the brunt of climate change, which deepens the inequalities and vulnerabilities they already face, such as poverty, violence, lack of opportunities and basic human rights. Yet women are not victims; they are survivors, innovators and solution-multipliers who deserve a real seat at the table. Two Colombian activists tell us why this is true.

  17. UN weather agency to spearhead 5 year early warning plan, boosting climate action

    - UN News

    The UN set an ambitious five year deadline on Wednesday for countries to ensure that citizens worldwide are protected by early warning systems against extreme weather and climate change, the UN chief announced, marking World Meteorological Day.

  18. UN chief warns against ‘sleepwalking to climate catastrophe’

    - UN News

    The goal to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, highlighted in the Paris Agreement on climate change, and driven home in last November’s COP26, gathering in Glasgow, is now on “life support” and “in intensive care,” the UN chief told the Economist Sustainability Summit on Monday.   

  19. Exploring the Future of Climate Justice Through My Daughter's Eyes

    - Inter Press Service

    QUITO, Mar 11 (IPS) - People often feel that climate change is difficult to grasp and relate to. I have heard that it’s “too technical, too intangible, or too complicated” for us to care about. As a Latin American mother of two, I confess that for me, relating to climate change is becoming ever more simple. All I do is try to imagine the world my kids will live in in 2050 if we don’t do anything now, and I immediately understand the urgent need for bold, transformative global climate action.

  20. Enhancing Climate Ambition Amidst Global Challenges

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, Mar 10 (IPS) - In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the over 200 member-strong partnership is bolstering efforts to help countries meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and empower renewable energy, food security, and climate adaptation initiatives.A member-led global coalition of 202 countries and institutions, the NDC Partnership has turned the spotlight on climate action by supporting countries’ efforts to craft and implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which outline their commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

  21. The Climate Change Shuffle: Deny, Delay, and Do Nothing

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Mar 07 (IPS) - While more than a half century ago the Twist was the craze in dance halls globally, today the Climate Change Shuffle is the craze in government halls and conference sites worldwide as officials dance around the dangers of climate change.

  22. International Women’s Day, 2022 - Collective Solutions to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Mar 02 (IPS) - The devastating effects of climate change continue to disproportionately affect women and girls in the poorest regions, who have contributed the least to global warming.

  23. IPCC adaptation report ‘a damning indictment of failed global leadership on climate’

    - UN News

    UN scientists on Monday delivered a stark warning about the impact of climate change on people and the planet, saying that ecosystem collapse, species extinction, deadly heatwaves and floods are among the "unavoidable multiple climate hazards” the world will face over the next two decades due to global warming,  

  24. Limiting the damage: UN helps policy-makers tackle climate change

    - UN News

    As extreme weather events become commonplace, threatening communities and economies across the world, the UN is helping policy-makers and leaders by projecting the impact of future climate hazards, and recommending the best, most cost-effective ways to adapt.

  25. Without climate action, extreme weather will trigger global humanitarian needs

    - UN News

    The impact of extreme weather on Madagascar is an example of the “runaway humanitarian needs” the world will face, unless it takes action to tackle the climate crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

  26. Women building a sustainable future: fighting back the desert, amid Niger’s refugee and climate crises

    - UN News

    Internal displacement, regional instability, and climate change have created a refugee crisis in Niger, but an initiative in the town of Ouallam is showing how different communities can work together to survive, and improve the local environment.

  27. Adapting to climate change ‘happening worldwide’, essential

    - UN News

    The impacts of climate change are already “very visible” and “happening worldwide”, the head of the UN weather agency told the start of the 55th Session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which convened on Monday.

  28. World must ‘change track’ to protect oceans from climate crisis: Guterres

    - UN News

    The planet is facing the triple crises of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution, Secretary-General António Guterres told the One Ocean Summit on Friday, warning that “the ocean shoulders much of the burden”.

  29. Wetlands: ‘Unsung heroes’ of the climate crisis

    - UN News

    For the first time, the United Nations on Wednesday celebrates World Wetlands Day, recognizing that these fragile ecosystems make a crucial contribution to biodiversity, climate mitigation, freshwater availability, and economic resilience.

  30. 2021 Year in Review: Climate action, or blah, blah, blah?

    - UN News

    This year saw another steady stream of UN-backed reports reinforcing a stark message: man-made climate change is an urgent and even existential threat to life on Earth. Will the international community’s efforts to tackle the crisis, as seen at the COP26 UN Climate Conference, result in meaningful action? 

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  • by Anup Shah
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