COP20—Lima Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This page Created

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. Climate change heightens threats of violence against women and girls

    - UN News

    Climate change and environmental degradation are escalating the risk and prevalence of violence against women and girls across the world, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert warned on Wednesday.

  2. UN chief: Countries bound for COP27 must make climate action ‘the top global priority’

    - UN News

    As government representatives begin the finalize the agenda for the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt next month, for pre-COP planning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital, Kinshasa, Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists in New York that the work ahead is “as immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world”.

  3. Five ways media and journalists can support climate action while tackling misinformation

    - UN News

    It’s a fact: media shapes the public discourse about climate change and how to respond to it. Even the UN’s own Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) warned clearly of this for the first time in the latest of its landmark series of reports.

  4. Climate Action Plans Could Help Address Injustice, Inequity in African Cities

    - Inter Press Service

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Sep 29 (IPS) - Equity and justice feature prominently in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th (IPCC) Assessment Report Working Group IIpublished in 2022. The report focuses on the impacts of climate change, as well as vulnerability and adaptation.

  5. We Must Ensure That Climate Funding Reaches the Guardians of the Forests

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Sep 27 (IPS) - US $270 million may sound like a lot of money, especially for just one year. But it is only a small fraction—less than one percent—of all global funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation. This small fraction, however, is the annual amount that was invested in the tenure and forest management of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) over the past decade.

  6. Egypt’s Foreign Minister calls for improved climate commitments at COP27

    - UN News

    Egypt, which is hosting the 2022 UN Climate Conference this November, is calling on the international community to act on climate pledges made to developing countries, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared on Saturday.

  7. Australia: Groundbreaking decision creates pathway for climate justice on Torres Strait Islands

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The UN Human Rights Committee found on Friday that Australia’s failure to adequately protect indigenous Torres Islanders against climate change impacts, has violated their rights to enjoy their culture, free from “arbitrary interference” with their private life, family and home.

  8. Demark rallies wealthy nations to back ‘climate solidarity’, boost financing for hard-hit poor countries

    - UN News

    Collectively, “we must address...the fundamental imbalances in the world we share,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Thursday, calling for global “climate solidarity” to support vulnerable countries that have suffered “loss and damage” from climate change.

  9. 1.5 degree climate pledge ‘on life support’, Guterres tells leaders during frank exchanges

    - UN News

    During a private meeting of Heads of State and Government, held on Wednesday at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for more action and leadership to tackle the climate crisis, warning that efforts to keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is “on life support”.

  10. Climate Change Crisis Nonacceptance

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Sep 19 (IPS) - Many people around the world, especially those among the political far-right, do not accept the climate change crisis. Over the years their thinking, behavior, and policies dismissing climate change have largely continued and impaired global efforts to address global warming and environmental degradation.

  11. Climate change impacts ‘heading into uncharted territory’, warns UN chief

    - UN News

    “Climate science is clear: we are heading in the wrong direction”, declares a major, multi-agency UN climate science report released on Tuesday, with a focus on increasing fossil fuel emissions and rising greenhouse gases, now at a record high, which risk thwarting plans to reduce global temperatures and avoid climate catastrophe.

  12. UN chief sees ‘great heights’ of human endurance and heroism amid ‘climate carnage’ in Pakistan

    - UN News

    Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday reiterated that the needs in flood-ravaged Pakistan are enormous and called for massive and urgent financial support, as he wrapped up a two-day trip aimed at raising awareness of the climate-driven disaster with flights over some of the hardest hit areas. 

  13. In flood-hit Pakistan, Guterres appeals for ‘massive’ global support, tougher action on climate change

    - UN News

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Pakistan on Friday to show solidarity with the people of the country following the loss of life and destruction caused by this year’s devastating floods. He appealed for massive international support to tackle this “climate catastrophe”.

  14. Climate Collapse Is Not Inevitable But ‘Great Leap’ Needed

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Sep 08 (IPS) - In 1972 the Club of Rome alerted the world to the harm human economic systems were doing to the health of our planet in its seminal, best-selling report, The Limits to Growth. With the devastating impacts of the climate crisis hitting home harder than ever, especially in the Global South, that warning about the dangers of exponential economic growth has been fully vindicated.

  15. Pakistans Climate Catastrophe: Lessons for the World

    - Inter Press Service

    HAMILTON, Canada, Sep 06 (IPS) - Monsoon flooding has occurred often in Pakistan but never to the catastrophic extent presently happening.

    A distinguishing feature of this disaster is that no one blames the flooding’s unprecedented intensity and destructiveness on anything but climate heating. The clear link between the warming atmosphere and the frequency and duration of extreme weather events of this scale should not be lost on the rest of the world.

  16. Egypt prepares for flagship UN climate conference, in a year of unprecedented global weather shocks

    - UN News

    Regional authorities in Egypt, the host country of the 2022 UN climate conference (COP27), are ramping up initiatives designed to improve the country’s environmental credentials, and speed up its transition to a low carbon economy. The event will begin on 4 November, in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

  17. Latin America Looks to COP27: ‘The Time to See Ourselves Only as Climate Victims is Over’

    - Inter Press Service

    MÉXICO, Aug 31 (IPS) - Latin America is already one of the world’s regions hit hardest by the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, tropical cyclones and floods have caused scores of deaths and severe damage to crop production and infrastructure, as underlined in a recent regional report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

  18. Tapping into the Power of Young People for Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    Aug 18 (IPS) - Today, our world is 1.1°C warmer than it was in the pre-industrial era, and failure to act urgently could possibly result in increases of 1.5°C-2°C between 2026 and 2042. Climate change poses a serious risk to the fundamental rights of people of every age.

  19. After the storm: what an environmental tragedy can teach us about climate resilience and ecosystem restoration

    - UN News

    A tiny Caribbean Island known as 'the flower of the ocean' was decimated by Hurricane Iota in 2020. Although the loss of human life was minimal, the impact on precious ecosystems deeply changed the perspective of its inhabitants. Two years later, they’re still working to restore their environmental treasures and preparing for whatever curveballs climate change might throw at them next.

  20. Climate Change Conclusion: Time for Bold Action

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Aug 10 (IPS) - With climate change bringing about increasing numbers of human deaths and untold sufferingand rising economic, social, and environmental consequences worldwide, it’s time for governments to take bold action to address the climate change emergency.

  21. American west faces water and power shortages due to climate crisis: UN environment agency

    - UN News

    Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday. 

  22. Climate Change is Putting Women & Girls in Malawi at Greater Risk of Sexual Violence

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Aug 01 (IPS) - It is often those least responsible for causing climate change that suffer the most from the impacts. And such is the case with women and girls in Malawi - one of the world’s poorest and lowest carbon-emitting countries but ranked fifth in the Global Climate Index 2021 list of nations worst affected by climate-related extreme weather.

  23. Landmark guidelines aim to protect children uprooted by climate change

    - UN News

    New UN-backed guidelines issued on Monday aim to protect, include and empower children forced to flee their homes due to the climate crisis, marking the first-ever global effort to address this increasingly major concern. 

  24. Record 40°C UK temperatures linked to climate change: WMO

    - UN News

    The chances of seeing unprecedented temperatures of 40 degree Celsius (40°C) or more in the UK could be up to 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a “natural climate unaffected by human influence,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared on Monday.

  25. The Caribbean is ‘ground zero’ for the global climate emergency: Guterres

    - UN News

    The UN Secretary-General’s final day in Suriname began on a small plane and ended at a podium. A 90-minute flyover from Paramaribo into the Central Suriname Nature Reserve revealed to António Guterres the astounding beauty of the Amazon but also spotlighted the threats the rainforest is facing from mining and logging activities, and climate change. 

  26. US Supreme Court ruling on environmental protection ‘a setback in our fight against climate change’

    - UN News

    The ruling by the United States Supreme Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, is “a setback in our fight against climate change” said the UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

  27. New UN financing initiative goes live to power climate action

    - UN News

    A new UN-led financing tool to strengthen weather and climate forecasting, improve life-saving early warning systems, safeguard jobs, and underpin climate adaptation for long-term resilience, officially opened for business on Thursday.

  28. Climate Hypocrisy Ensures Global Warming

    - Inter Press Service

    SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 28 (IPS) - Rich country governments claim the high moral ground on climate action. But many deny their far greater responsibility for both historic and contemporary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, once acknowledged by the Kyoto Protocol.

  29. Put women’s rights ‘front and centre’ of climate policies: Bachelet

    - UN News

    Although climate change threatens everyone, women and girls often suffer its harshest and most violent consequences, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday. 

  30. Who Should Be the Next UN Climate Change Head?

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 20 (IPS) - Patricia Espinosa’s six years as Executive Secretary of the UN’s climate change secretariat ends on July 15th. During her time in charge, she has led efforts to operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement and inject greater urgency into the diplomatic process. Although progress has been difficult, COP26 in Glasgow added some momentum and arguably brought the UN process to the start of its next stage: implementation.

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  • by Anup Shah
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