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. Climate Change with 8 Billion Humans

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Nov 23 (IPS) - With world population approaching 8 billion humans, the demographic growth of nations is unfortunately largely ignored by governments whenever climate change is considered.

  2. Interview: The most impactful actions at COP26 point to progress on climate change

    - UN News

    Of the many agreements and initiatives announced at the 26th UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the UN Climate Communications Lead at the Department of Global Communications narrowed down the three that she deemed most impactful. 

  3. What Governments Should Learn from The Climate Activists

    - Inter Press Service

    Nov 15 (IPS) - Shantha Rau Barriga is the disability rights director and the lead on Strategy Development at Human Rights Watch“Nothing about us without us” – that was the call from the indigenous rights advocate Ghazali Ohorella from the Alifuru people in the Maluku Islands, Indonesia during a panel at the climate summit in Glasgow.

  4. Glasgow Summit Ends Amidst Climate of Disappointment

    - Inter Press Service

    GLASGOW, Nov 14 (IPS) - Developing countries will surely remember the Glasgow climate summit, the most important since 2015, as a fiasco that left them as an afterthought.

  5. COP26 closes with ‘compromise’ deal on climate, but it’s not enough, says UN chief

    - UN News

    After extending the COP26 climate negotiations an extra day, nearly 200 countries in Glasgow, Scotland, adopted on Saturday an outcome document that, according to the UN Secretary-General, reflects the interests, the contradictions, and the state of political will in the world today.

  6. Climate action can deliver a sustainable future for all: UN deputy chief

    - UN News

    Climate action can be the driver for a green and equitable future for all, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has said at the TED Countdown Summit, urging people everywhere to demand that leaders deliver on their promise to limit global warming. 

  7. As COP26 deadline slips, negotiators to keep working to agree crucial climate deal

    - UN News

    COP26, the UN climate summit in Glasgow, is running into overtime, as leaders and negotiators will keep working to reach a deal that could spare the world from catastrophic global warming.

  8. Violence, insecurity and climate change drive 84 million people from their homes

    - UN News

    As more people flee violence, insecurity and the effects of climate change, the number forcibly displaced now exceeds 84 million globally, according to new data released on Thursday by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.  

  9. COP26: Climate Action in Agribusiness Could Reduce Emissions by up to 7 per Cent

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Nov 11 (IPS) - Targeted action in agriculture could have a massive impact on climate change, according to a joint brief by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), published at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow scheduled to end November 12.

  10. UN chief welcomes China-US pledge to cooperate on climate action

    - UN News

    Wednesday’s announcement that China and the United States have agreed to collaborate more closely on climate action was hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as an important step in the right direction.

  11. Climate change increasing threats in southwest Pacific: WMO report

    - UN News

    From rising sea temperatures, to deadly and devastating storms and floods, climate change is increasing threats in the southwest Pacific, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a report published on Wednesday. 

  12. COP26: Avoiding Carbon Tunnel Vision: Action on Climate Change Needs an Inter-connected Response

    - Inter Press Service

    AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands, Nov 10 (IPS) - With the UN climate change conference – COP26 – continuing this week in Glasgow, it’s obvious that there is consensus among a majority of world leaders and key stakeholders that much more needs to be done, if the ambition of keeping global warming to a 1.5-degree increase is to have any chance of being met. Yet talk, as they say, is cheap. Or, in the words of Greta: too much “blah, blah, blah” and not enough action.

  13. COP26 - Adapting to the Climate Crisis

    - Inter Press Service

    OTTAWA, Canada, Nov 09 (IPS) - Look up any map showing today’s global humanitarian crises and you’ll find it awash in red alerts more than ever before. Climate emergencies are fast emerging in new areas that have never previously witnessed them, and they are accelerating humanity’s march towards the precipice in regions long battered by conflict, hunger and displacement.

  14. Magical Thinking on Fertilizer and Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    CAMBRIDGE, Nov 09 (IPS) - As world leaders wrap up the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, new scientific research shows that there is still a great deal of magical thinking about the contribution of fertilizer to global warming.

  15. COP26: Climate Justice Begins with the Human Right to Water

    - Inter Press Service

    GLASGOW, Scotland, Nov 09 (IPS) - As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is swiftly moving to its conclusion on Friday, climate justice could not be more urgent or timely.

  16. Women bear the brunt of the climate crisis, COP26 highlights

    - UN News

    Women took the global stage on Tuesday to show that climate change isn’t gender neutral, and that climate action needs them: investing in women and girls creates ripple effects felt throughout entire communities and the frontline knowledge they possess is needed now more than ever, especially as new analysis has revealed that the announcements by world leaders at COP26 still leave our planet on the path to catastrophic global warming. 

  17. A matter of life or death: At COP26, vulnerable countries tell developed nations it’s time to keep their promise on climate finance

    - UN News

    Massive floods, devastating wildfires, and rising seas – along with the countless lives they take and livelihoods they upend – are realities many nations are already facing. Voices from the front lines of climate change and its impacts were centre stage to start week two of COP26, which kicked off Monday in Glasgow with a focus on ‘adaptation, loss and damage’.

  18. Many countries ‘unsupported and unprepared’ to address climate health risks: WHO

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Although governments are prioritizing public health measures to protect their people from climate impacts, many lack the funds to take effective action, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report issued on Monday. 

  19. COP26: Thousands of young people take over Glasgow streets demanding climate action

    - UN News

    “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” echoed throughout central Glasgow on Friday as thousands of protesters took the streets during the dedicated “Youth Day” at COP26.

  20. At COP26, EBRD Launches Plan to Mobilise Private Capital for Climate Finance

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Nov 05 (IPS) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced its intention to double the mobilisation of private sector climate financing by 2025.

  21. ‘Dramatic’ boost needed in climate adaptation: UN environment agency

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Although policies and planning for climate change adaptation are increasing, financing and implementation lag behind, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a new report launched on Thursday. 

  22. COP26: ‘Not blah blah blah’, UN Special Envoy Carney presents watershed private sector commitment for climate finance

    - UN News

    It’s ‘Finance Day’ at COP26, and the spotlight is on a big announcement: nearly 500 global financial services firms agreed on Wednesday to align $130 trillion – some 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets – with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

  23. ‘Climate of fear’ prevails for human rights defenders in Afghanistan

    - UN News

    Human rights defenders in Afghanistan report that they are now enduring a “climate of fear”, threats, and becoming increasingly desperate over conditions in the country, an independent UN expert said on Wednesday.  

  24. Guterres urges developed countries to deliver on climate pledge for vulnerable nations

    - UN News

    With world leaders expressing hope that the goal of supplying $100 billion a year in climate finance support for developing countries is within reach, the UN Secretary-General warned on Tuesday that the target would likely not be met until 2023 and would require additional funding after that. 

  25. Integrate water supplies and climate action, world leaders urge

    - UN News

    Water and climate action must be integrated to ensure sufficient water supply in the face of a rising global population and environmental degradation, a coalition of world leaders said on Tuesday. 

  26. COP26: The Many Links Between Food Systems & Climate Change: Message to Glasgow

    - Inter Press Service

    TORONTO, Canada, Nov 02 (IPS) - Unless food systems transformation is put at the center of climate action, commitments governments have already made, and could make at COP26, will be jeopardized.

  27. Will Glasgow Fix Broken Climate Finance Promises?

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 02 (IPS) - Current climate mitigation plans will result in a catastrophic 2.7°C world temperature rise. US$1.6–3.8 trillion is needed annually to avoid global warming exceeding 1.5°C.

  28. Is Asia and the Pacific Ready for the Global Climate Stage?

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov 01 (IPS) - As the leaders of Asia and the Pacific prepare to head to Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), they can be sure that our region will be in the spotlight: many of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change are located here; the seven G20 members from this region are responsible for over half of global GHG emissions; and five of the 10 top countries with the greatest historic responsibility for emissions since the beginning of the twentieth century are from Asia.

  29. COP26 opens in Glasgow with calls for ambitious solutions to tackle climate emergency

    - UN News

    The eyes of the world are on Glasgow, Scotland, as the United Nations climate summit known as COP26 opens with UN diplomats and politicians alike calling for more action – and ambition – to set out new commitments for curbing greenhouse emissions and adapting to the impacts of a warming planet.

  30. Reducing methane emissions vital for climate action, but not ‘get out of jail free card’

    - UN News

    A new reporting hub to reduce methane emissions – a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for at least a quarter of global warming – was launched on Sunday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as the UN Climate Conference (COP26) kicked off in Glasgow.

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  • by Anup Shah
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