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. Madagascar: Severe drought could spur world’s first climate change famine

    - UN News

    More than one million people in southern Madagascar are struggling to get enough to eat, due to what could become the first famine caused by climate change, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). 

  2. Despite Climate Crisis, Politicians Will Double the Production of Energy from Fossil Fuels

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Oct 21 (IPS) - In a time when the world's scientific community sounds louder, and stronger than ever, the alarm about the fast growing climate crisis and its destructive impacts, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030.

  3. COP26: Building Climate Resilience Will Require a Focus on Those Furthest Behind

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Oct 21 (IPS) - As the United Nations Climate Change Conferencealso known as COP26, approaches (31 October -12 November in Glasgow, Scotland), climate action is more urgent than ever. Yes, we need climate change mitigation.

  4. Climate Change: How 1.3 Billion Africans Cause Least But Suffer Most

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Oct 20 (IPS) - While Africa reportedly causes just 4 percent of global emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) —an acidic colourless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air, causing climate change—, this vast continent, home to over 1.300 billion inhabitants in 52 countries, bears the heaviest brunt of 80 percent of the climate crisis destructive impacts.

  5. Forests & Climate: We Need to do Much, Much More

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW JERSEY, USA, Oct 20 (IPS) - Governments agree that saving the climate means saving forests – but ambition and action fall short of what’s required.

    First the good news: one of the forest goals agreed by governments, businesses and civil society organizations has been met.

  6. Fossil fuel production ‘dangerously out of sync’ with climate change targets

    - UN News

    Despite increased climate ambition and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of energy from fossil fuels in 2030, than the amount that would limit global warming to the Paris Agreement level of 1.5°C. 

  7. UN-backed report reveals rising climate change risk across Africa

    - UN News

    Climate change contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and partners said in a report published on Tuesday. 

  8. World Food Day: Climate Change is Exacerbating Hunger & Conflict—it’s Time to Break the Cycle

    - Inter Press Service

    STOCKHOLM, Oct 13 (IPS) - Hunger, violent conflict and the visible impacts of climate change are all on the rise. World Food Day, October 16, is a reminder that we need to talk about the intricate ways that these challenges are connected—and how to tackle them together.

  9. WHO: Global health community prescribes climate action for COVID recovery

    - UN News

    Ambitious national climate commitments are crucial for States to sustain a healthy, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UN health agency report launched on Monday in the lead-up to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

  10. Mangrove Blue Carbon for Climate Change Mitigation

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Oct 07 (IPS) - Smelly, boggy, and full of bugs, mangroves’ superpowers are well hidden. However, there is rising confidence that mangroves are the silver bullet to combat the effects of climate change.

  11. 7 climate action highlights to remember before COP26

    - UN News

    A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum before the decisive UN Climate Conference COP26 in early November.   

  12. Climate action: ‘Time is running out’, UN chief tells ministers

    - UN News

    With just one month left until the COP26 climate change conference, countries must do more to reduce emissions, finance climate action and support mitigation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the final official ministerial meeting in Milan, Italy, on Thursday. 

  13. Keep raising your voices, UN chief tells young climate leaders

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    With the climate crisis already devastating lives and incomes, young people will be critical to driving global action forward, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told participants attending the Pre-COP Youth Event in Milan, Italy, on Thursday.

  14. Niger: Climate change is another pandemic with devastating effects

    - UN News

    Apart from disastrous economic consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has also amplified the climate and security crisis in the Sahel, said Niger’s Minister of Foreign Affairs during the country’s turn to speak at the UN General Assembly. 

  15. Pacific nations appeal for solidarity to combat COVID-19 and climate change

    - UN News

    Pacific Island leaders speaking in the UN General Assembly on Saturday underlined the need for global solidarity, commitment and action to tackle COVID-19 and climate change, two crises which threaten sustainable development. 

  16. Alarm bells are ringing over conflict, COVID and climate, ‘now we must respond’, Ireland tells UN Assembly

    - UN News

    Looking back over the first four days of the high-level week, the Ireland’s Prime Minister said a series of alarms have sounded in the Hall of the General Assembly: for conflict, for COVID, for climate.  

  17. UN chief: Window to avert devasting climate impacts ‘rapidly closing’

    - UN News

    No region is immune to climate disasters the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, warning that “our window of opportunity” to prevent the worst climate impacts is “rapidly closing”.

  18. Support developing countries with climate mitigation: Bosnia and Herzegovina

    - UN News

    Financial support will be critical if developing countries are to meet global climate goals, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, said in the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.    

  19. World’s two largest economies commit to climate action – Guterres

    - UN News

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday welcomed important commitments made towards climate action by the world’s two largest economies, as the 76th High Level Debate began in New York.

  20. Brazilian President commits country to climate neutrality by 2050

    - UN News

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro highlighted this Tuesday, in New York, his country’s work on environmental preservation and the fight against climate change.  

  21. How Jamaica got Youth Climate Action Engagement Right

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, Sep 21 (IPS) - When the NDC Partnership, the alliance which helps governments to determine and achieve their climate goals, held its first-ever Global Youth Engagement Forum in July, several segments were underpinned by Jamaica’s model of engaging young people and sustaining youth interest in climate initiatives.

  22. Call for ‘decisive action now’ to avoid climate catastrophe

    - UN News

    Speaking alongside the UK Prime Minister in New York on Monday the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called on world leaders for “decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe.” 

  23. ‘Tipping point’ for climate action: Time’s running out to avoid catastrophic heating

    - UN News

    The temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by global COVID-19 lockdowns did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels, and the planet is on path towards dangerous overheating, a multi-agency climate report published on Thursday warns. 

  24. CommonSensing Project Builds Climate Resilience for Small Island Nations

    - Inter Press Service

    Sydney, Australia, Sep 10 (IPS) - The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) CommonSensing is led by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) through its Operational Satellite Applications programme (UNOSAT), which is working with selected partners including the Commonwealth Secretariat, to improve resilience to the effects of climate change in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

  25. Latin America's Central Banks Push Climate Crisis to the Back Burner

    - Inter Press Service

    MEXICO CITY, Sep 10 (IPS) - Despite the impact that their policies have with regard to the climate emergency, Latin America's central banks continue to avoid applying guidelines in measures that affect the operation of credit institutions, which distances them from compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

  26. Climate action: Guterres hails Latin American and Caribbean leadership

    - UN News

    The UN chief on Wednesday commended the leadership of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on climate action. 

  27. In a Watershed Year for Climate Change, the Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for Urgent, Decisive and Sustained Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    London, Sep 08 (IPS) - This November, five years after signing the Paris Agreement and pledging to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a further target of below 1.5 degrees Celsius, world leaders will meet in Glasgow, UK amid COVID-19 pandemic shocks, rising hunger and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warns of more extreme temperature, droughts, forest fires and ice sheet loss due to human activity.

  28. Yemen: ‘Climate of fear’ grows, all sides to blame, say rights experts

    - UN News

    There has been no let-up in more than six years of conflict in Yemen, as a growing “climate of fear” among civilians continues, a panel of UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Wednesday.

  29. Climate Crisis Drives Up Cost of Electricity and Brings Big Changes in Brazil

    - Inter Press Service

    RÍO DE JANEIRO, Sep 08 (IPS) - As most of the world seeks to modify its energy mix to mitigate climate change, Brazil has also been forced to do so to adapt to the climate crisis whose effects are being felt in the country due to the scarcity of rainfall.

  30. Drop coal or climate change will ‘wreak havoc’ across Australian economy

    - UN News

    Climate change will “wreak havoc” across the Australian economy if coal is not rapidly phased out, a senior UN official warned on Monday. 

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
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