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. Small businesses unprepared for pandemic-sized climate shock ‘every decade’

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

      Small businesses which make up more than half of the global workforce were 2.5 times more likely to go under than larger firms in the first months of COVID-19, the International Trade Centre (ITC) said on Wednesday, warning that the impact of climate change could cause pandemic-scale disruption “every decade”.

  2. Sustainability solution or climate calamity? The dangers and promise of cryptocurrency technology

    - UN News

    The negative environmental impact of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has been widely covered in the press in recent weeks and months, and their volatility has also been flagged as a cause for concern. Nevertheless, the UN believes that blockchain, the technology lying behind these online currencies, could be of great benefit to those fighting the climate crisis, and help bring about a more sustainable global economy.

  3. To Reverse Food Insecurity Build a Climate Resilient Agricultural Sector

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Jun 16 (IPS) - The number of people facing acute food insecurity has hit a five-year high, according to a recently released annual report by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) - an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises. In addition, the report noted that 28 million people were one step away from starvation. This was attributed to conflict, economic shocks due to COVID-19 and climate change associated weather events.

  4. Central Sahel: Ground Zero in Tackling Climate Change Through Education

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 16 (IPS) - The climate crisis is amplifying the effects of instability and violence in the world’s poorest countries. Nowhere is this more visible than in Africa’s Central Sahel region, where increasing temperature, floods, droughts and other climate change-induced disasters are triggering conflicts, displacement, and pushing girls and boys into the shadows.

  5. Why Mixed Messages Could Turn Boris Johnsons Glasgow Climate Summit Dream into a Nightmare

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 11 (IPS) - How are preparations for the Glasgow Climate Summit in November proceeding? Currently, we are more than halfway through three weeks of virtual preparatory negotiations taking place in June. These online talks are challenging in their own right, just as many had feared  (see: ‘Should the 2021 Climate Summit in Glasgow Still Take Place?’). 

  6. UN Scientists: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss. Two Parts. One Problem.

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jun 11 (IPS) - Earth is in the throes of multiple environmental crises, with climate change and the loss of biodiversity the most pressing.

    The urgency to confront the two challenges has been marked by policies that tackle the issues separately.

    Now, a report by a team of scientists has warned that success on either front is hinged on a combined approach to the dual crises.

  7. UN-backed report finds no G7-based stock exchange indices align with Paris climate goals

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    New research co-authored by the UN Global Compact revealed on Thursday that none of the G7 leading industrial nations’ main stock indices are aligned with global emissions targets set out in the Paris Agreement, thwarting efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

  8. From Climate Change to Covid, Are We Ready to Deal with Disasters?

    - Inter Press Service

    PARIS, Jun 10 (IPS) - In the last 20 years, disasters affected over 4 billion people. At global level we witness on average one sweeping disaster a day, the majority of which are floods and storms. From the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change, calamities are taking new shapes and sizes, infiltrating every dimension of society. From the emotional to the political, how do we deal with disasters? How can we create a whole-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction?

  9. UNs Battle Against Climate Hazards Undermined by a Devastating Pandemic

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jun 04 (IPS) - The United Nations has been in the forefront of an ongoing battle against the growing hazards of climate change, including the destruction of different species of plants and animals, the danger of rising sea-levels threatening the very existence of small island developing states (SIDS), and the risks of oceans reaching record temperatures endangering aquatic resources.

  10. Invasive pest spread another fallout from climate change, UN-backed study finds

    - UN News

    Climate change is making pests which ravage important agricultural crops even more destructive, heightening threats to global food security and the environment, a UN-backed study published on Wednesday has found. 

  11. Bridging the Gaps Between Climate Action & Biodiversity Preservation

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal, Jun 02 (IPS) - With the climate negotiations getting more and more intense in the light of ensuring meaningful achievements in the upcoming COP- 26 summit in Edinburgh, an event that is key to move forward the pathway towards a net zero future started in Paris, this year World Environment Day on June 5 assumes an even more emblematic meaning.

  12. UN chief calls for a global partnership to address COVID, climate change and achieve SDG’s

    - UN News

    Speaking in a key international partnerships summit, António Guterres said that if governments embrace together the goals of phasing out coal, enhancing climate commitments, and investing in the Global Goals, there is an opportunity to rise to 'the biggest challenge of our lives'.

  13. Why Stakeholder Coalitions Could Be Key to the Glasgow Climate Summits Success

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, May 27 (IPS) - The past few weeks brought a burst of optimism on the climate front. It began on April 18 with the US-China announcement on climate cooperation. This was followed in quick succession by the EU Parliament’s vote to cut emissions 55% by 2030, the UK’s promise of a 78% cut by 2035, Japan nearly doubling their commitment from 26% to 46% based on 2013 levels and US President Biden’s pledge of a 50-52% reduction, also by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels).

  14. Boost investments in nature to combat climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises

    - UN News

    Annual investments in nature-based solutions will have to triple by 2030, and increase four-fold by 2050, if the world is to successfully tackle the triple threat of climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises, according to a new UN-backed study published on Thursday. 

  15. A Growing Shift in the Narrative about Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 2021 (IPS) - A keen awareness about the intersection of our ecosystem and the “accelerating destabilisation of the climate” is helping shift the narrative for climate action and can help us transition from being polluters to becoming protectors of the climate, said Marco Lambertini, Director General at the World Wide Fund for Nature.

  16. The Global Insecurity of Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, May 21 (IPS) - For Sudanese youth, climate change is synonymous with insecurity.

  17. Successful Crop Innovation Is Mitigating Climate Crisis Impact in Africa

    - Inter Press Service

    IBADAN and MEXICO CITY, Feb 17 2021 (IPS) - 17 February - African smallholder farmers have no choice but to adapt to climate change: 2020 was the second hottest year on record, while prolonged droughts and explosive floods are directly threatening the livelihoods of millions. By the 2030s, lack of rainfall and rising temperatures could render 40 percent of Africa’s maize-growing area unsuitable for climate-vulnerable varieties grown by farmers, while maize remains the preferred and affordable staple food for millions of Africans who survive on less than a few dollars of income a day.

  18. Climate Crisis: Elephants in the Room are Getting Nastier

    - Inter Press Service

    HAMILTON, Canada, May 18 (IPS) - The year 2020 will forever be notorious for the COVID-19 pandemic but it might also be known by historians for a precipitous rise in second order climate change consequences -- a new elephant in the room.

  19. Q&A: On the Frontline, Islands Aim to Seize Climate Initiatives

    - Inter Press Service

    KINGSTON / PARIS, May 17 (IPS) - The “all-virtual” Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) that took place May 11-14 highlighted islands’ particular vulnerabilities in the face of both climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. But the event - hosted by the Dominican Republic - also provided “important momentum for a successful UN Climate Change Conference” (COP 26) in November in Glasgow, according to the United Nations.

  20. Africas Worsening Climate: Heres How the United States can Help Africa

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, May 17 (IPS) - Recently, I participated in a Congressional hearing on the “Effects of climate change in Africa”, before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and Internal Organizationschaired by Congresswoman, Karen Bass.

  21. Latin America & the Caribbean Assess Climate Ambition and Action Ahead of COP26

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, May 13 (IPS) - The Dominican Republic opened the 2021 virtual Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week with a pledge to increase the country’s climate ambition by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent and maintaining progress towards climate neutrality according to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

  22. To Effectively Combat Climate Change, Listen and Act on Ideas from the Youth

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Apr 26 (IPS) - Recently, I participated in Kids Climate Summit 2021a virtual event that gave younger students an opportunity to take a stance on climate change, express their concerns, and learn about global climate and the actions we all can take to mitigate climate change. 

  23. The planet’s on ‘red alert’ UN chief warns leaders at President Biden’s climate summit

    - UN News

    World leaders must act now and put the planet on a green path because “we are at the verge of the abyss”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday in his address to the virtual climate summit convened by United States President Joseph Biden. 

  24. First Person: ‘Youth won’t stay silent’ says Madagascar climate activist

    - UN News

    Young people around the world “won’t stay silent” about the global climate crisis according to a youth activist from Madagascar. 

  25. Green transformation will rival industrial revolution: US climate envoy

    - UN News

    The transition to a global economic model which will slow down climate change and create jobs will be the “biggest economic transformation since the industrial revolution” according to John Kerry, the US climate envoy.

  26. Guterres urges cities to embrace ‘generational opportunity’ for climate action, sustainable development

    - UN News

    The United Nations Secretary-General, on Friday, called for a “revolution” in urban planning and urban transport to beat back impacts of climate change and build a green and sustainable future for all. 

  27. Barilla Foundation Brings Health and Climate Together in New Double Pyramid

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Apr 12 (IPS) - Following an extensive scientific review, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) is preparing to launch a new food systems model which incorporates nutrition and climate.

  28. Paris goals still ‘long way off’, says President of UN climate conference

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The world is “a long way off” from meeting the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the President of the crucial upcoming UN climate conference, COP26, said on Thursday.

  29. Renewable energy access key to climate adaptation in Africa: UN chief

    - UN News

    Support for climate adaptation in Africa is crucial, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday in appealing for greater action to provide renewable energy to hundreds of millions who still lack access to reliable and affordable electricity.

  30. Climate change top challenge over the next decade, UNESCO global survey finds

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Climate change and loss of biodiversity is seen as the most pressing challenge over the decade, according to the World in 2030 Survey report published on Wednesday by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

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  • by Anup Shah
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