Friday, December 19, 2014

World leaders have failed to safeguard the vulnerable countries | ClimateDev

By Quamrul Chowdhury, ClimateDev

Ministers and delegates from 196 countries, after many hurdles, adopted the Lima Call for Climate Action in the early hours of December 14. It sets a fragile course cutting back on global emissions and avoiding runaway climate change.

The Lima outcome also keeps lot of issues to be resolved and leaves many a questions unanswered prior to the 2015 treaty to be signed in Paris next December. The question of urgency, as dictated by the science, was most unfortunately ignored again in Lima.

History will tell whether the Lima Call for Climate Action would really help craft a robust, ambitious and equitable global agreement at the next UN climate conference, which will limit global warming to the agreed 2ºC rise above pre-industrial levels, preferably 1.5ºC.

But, definitely, Lima failed to rescue the most vulnerable countries from adverse impacts of climate change in the short-run, as enforcement of an early peaking period was glossed over. At the same time, climate-induced “loss and damage” was not mentioned in the operative paragraphs of the ADP decision text. 

An increase of climate finance from 2015 to 2020 could not be clearly indicated to ensure new, additional, adequate and predictable funding over and above existing overseas development assistance (ODA). At best, the Lima Call for Climate Action can be described as ‘business as usual’. It was not even what we in economics call “second best.” 

Delegates, however, agreed for the first time that every country would cut the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It was seen as a first step towards reaching a global climate treaty in Paris next December. 

But climate negotiators know only soft issues were addressed in Lima, leaving almost all hard issues to be addressed next year. What negotiators could not deliver after years of discussions, they now aim to do in just couple of weeks negotiations in 2015. Whether this can be done is literally a trillion dollar question. 

The environment minister of Peru and the chair of the UN Climate Talks, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, was quite optimistic saying, “I think this is good, and I think this moves us forward”. He at least saved the talks from collapse and struck a decision in the early hours of December 14th – now officially known as the Lima Call for Climate Action – that, for the first time, requires all countries, rising economies as well as rich countries, to take action on climate change. 

The Lima summit will be seen by developed countries as a victory after they successfully demolished the sharp divide between developed and developing countries – even though industrialised developed countries are squarely responsible for historical emissions and should take the whole burden for dealing with it. 

Lima saw a break from one of the defining principles of the last 20 years of climate talks – that wealthy industrialized countries should carry that burden of cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Now, courtesy of the Lima summit, all countries will share that burden. For the first time, China – whose emissions have overtaken the US since the climate talks began – as well as India, Brazil and other rising economies have agreed they will need to cut their own emissions as well. 

As for the Lima agreement, all countries will need to come up with their own emissions reductions targets in time for the suggested deadline of March 31st, 2015. The United Nations would then weigh up those pledges and determine, whether the collective action will be enough to limit warming to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, the globally agreed goal. 

There was no headway to reduce the adaptation deficit in Lima. Nor could climate-induced “loss and damage” be settled in the contours of a new climate treaty. Developed countries also rejected committing to a scale-up of climate finance after previous “fast-start finance” has run out – as demanded by the most vulnerable countries in order to raise $60 billion in 2017, and $80 billion in 2018, so that funding would reach the level of US$100 billion by 2020. 

Lima summit only saw pledges of US$10.5 billion for Green Climate Fund and some millions of dollars for the Adaptation Fund. I thank all those who have made these pledges. But I am deeply frustrated that no fresh announcements were made for the Least Developed Countries Fund, despite demands from the LDCs to provide at least US$2 billion to support adaptation actions in the 49 LDCs. 

Therefore there is absolutely no clarity in climate finance. In Doha, it was agreed that at least US$30 billion would be generated during 2013-15, but nobody knows how much of that constitutes new and additional climate finance to the most vulnerable countries in 2013 and 2014. So where is the clarity? 

Developed countries now need to quickly ramp up climate finance to reach $100 billion annually by 2020, but there is very little clarity in this regard, as only $ 10 billion has been mobilised so far through the Green Climate Fund, which is only a drop in the ocean. 

The LDC Fund is also drying up, despite that we have asked for at least $2 billion for the fund to meet the most urgent adaptation needs of the LDCs. Similarly, there is no progress on the capitalisation of the Adaptation Fund. 

To help implement climate-smart programmes across the most vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh, we need to know how much long-term finance will be channelled through international climate funds. Yet in Lima, we did not get any signals on future finance flows in the short-, mid- or long-term. 

Climate finance is of paramount importance to developing countries and especially for the LDCs. Preparation for the “intended nationally determined contributions” in any country is an expensive affair. And in resource constraint vulnerable countries, very little can be done without finance, capacity building and technical support. Not least, as planning and implementation scenario changes as soon as you have more clarity on finance. 

Only low hanging fruits were picked up in Lima, but governments still need to compromise over red-lines to strike a climate agreement in Paris in 2015 – and help rescuing the most vulnerable countries like Bangladesh from the adverse impacts of climate change that threatens the planet.

World leaders have failed to safeguard the vulnerable countries | ClimateDev

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For the First Time, Lima Climate Accord Puts Burden on Developing Countries | Pawan Khera

By Pawan Khera, Political Analyst working with Indian National Congress ( The Huffington Post)

If saying good bye to each other took so much time in Lima, saying hello to each other in Paris will prove more difficult. The Lima Accord is but a polite postponement of mutually antagonistic issues.

The global hope raised by the U.S.-China agreement of Nov. 12 was replaced by time-consuming bickering in Lima. Finally, after two weeks of hectic parleys, more than 190 countries at the Lima climate change talks agreed on a plan to fight global warming that would, for the first time, commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lima Accord was agreed upon at the United Nations talks on Sunday and is considered by some as a significant first step towards a climate change deal due to be finalized in Paris next year. If things go according to plan, China, Brazil, India and other rising economies will pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, there is a significant departure from one of the defining principles of the last 20 years of climate talks: wealthy countries would not carry the burden of cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Neither does the agreement have any mention of the provision that the rich nations will compensate the poorer and vulnerable countries to adjust to climate change. Developed nations, which have had the first mover advantage both in industrial development and in polluting the earth without accountability, cannot now turn a blind eye to the need to fund green technologies and help developing nations avoid the very learning curve that polluted the earth in the first place.

While Brazil proposed different expectations for developed, emerging economies and least-developed countries, the final agreement in Lima did not address Brazil's proposal. Developing countries had long demanded that the wealthy nations enhance their emission reduction targets in the period before 2020. The deal only reiterates its resolve to accomplish this.

According to India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, "This is not the best text that we could have had. But it is certainly the best that we could have secured in the circumstances."

However, not everybody is in agreement. Many feel the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities that allows developing countries to be treated differently, has been diluted with the addition of the phrase "in light of different national circumstances."

Harjeet Singh, international manager for climate change and resilience at ActionAid International, says, "This totally compromises the position of developing countries. Differentiation is at the heart of climate negotiations. Developing countries might have to repent for letting this clause pass."

Critics apprehend that self-regulation may not be enough for countries to enact domestic laws and put in place a plan to reduce carbon emissions by March 31. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions will constitute the Paris deal. The absence of a legally binding language makes the Lima Accord a short-term achievement, but in the long term unquantifiable, unpredictable and unenforceable. After all, the world does not just depend on "peer pressure" for nuclear disarmament.

For India, where per capita energy consumption is less than 150 units a year compared to the West's close to 10,000 units per year, the country has comparatively low emission figures and by this measure, can be considered among the least polluting nations in the world. This, coupled with the need for economic growth, was why Jairam Ramesh, the environment minister during the tenure of UPA 2, had strongly resisted attempts by developed economies to apply the standards of the West in controlling emissions and setting a peak year for emission standards.

At the Lima talks, Malaysian negotiator Gurdial Singh Nijar said, "We are in a differentiated world. That is the reality. Many of you colonized us, so we started from a completely different point."

If India's current leadership, led by the NDA, does not raise its voice, and has meekly agreed to the demands of Western nations, we have already surrendered the hard-won gains in climate talks India had won during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA 2 government.

With the ball of emission control in the domestic court, countries like India will have to harmonize their economic goals with quantifiable environmental measures. China's objection to demands by Europe for detailed accounting of its emission reduction plans does not augur well for Paris.

How well we cover the vast difference between "may" and "shall" will determine our commitment towards arresting climate change in the months to come in the run up to Paris next year.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

COP20 daily update with Saleemul Huq, 15 December

IIED senior fellow and ICCCAD director Saleemul Huq provides his final round-up from the UNFCCC climate talks in Lima, Peru from 1-12 December 2014 following the publication of the final agreement. Frustrated with the draft text produced two days earlier, Huq is more positive about the final outcome.

In this vlog, he rounds up the notable inclusions and omissions, reflects on COP20 as a whole, and charts what will happen next on the road to COP21 in Paris in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions

By CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times

Negotiators from around the globe reached a climate change agreement early Sunday that would, for the first time in history, commit every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions — yet would still fall far short of what is needed to stave off the dangerous and costly early impact of global warming.

The agreement reached by delegates from 196 countries establishes a framework for a climate change accord to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year. While United Nations officials had been scheduled to release the plan on Friday at noon, longstanding divisions between rich and poor countries kept them wrangling through Friday and Saturday nights to early Sunday.

The agreement requires every nation to put forward, over the next six months, a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, gas and oil. Those plans, which would be published on a United Nations website, would form the basis of the accord to be signed next December and enacted by 2020.

That basic structure represents a breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations’ 20 years of efforts to create a serious global warming deal. Until now, negotiations had followed a divide put in place by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required developed countries to act but did not demand anything of developing nations, including China and India, two of the largest greenhouse gas polluters.

“This emerging agreement represents a new form of international cooperation that includes all countries,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on international climate negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

“A global agreement in Paris is now within reach,” she said.

On its own, the political breakthrough will not achieve the stated goal of the deal: to slow the rate of global emissions enough to prevent the atmosphere from warming more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the preindustrial average. That is the point at which scientists say the planet will tip into dangerous and irreversible effects, such as melting sea ice, rising sea levels, increased flooding and droughts, food and water shortages, and more extreme storms.

Experts estimate that the aggregate impact of the commitments would reduce emissions at about half the level necessary to prevent that 3.6-degree increase. To prevent the temperature increase, emissions would have to be reduced by double the amount called for in the accord.

The freshly struck agreement, the Lima Accord, sends the obligation of devising a plan to cut carbon emissions back to the nations’ capitals — and its success or failure rests on how seriously and ambitiously the parliaments, congresses and energy, environment and economic ministries of the world take the mandate to create a new policy.

American negotiators, led by the State Department’s climate change special envoy, Todd D. Stern, have pushed hard for provisions that required all countries to make their proposals public, transparent and presented with comparable metrics as a way to create outside pressure on countries to produce more ambitious plans.
“The Lima Accord delivers what we need to go forward,” Mr. Stern said.

Some environmental groups criticized the compromise deal for watering down language that would have bound countries to more rigorous transparency requirements — such as using similar timetables and baseline years from which emissions would be cut. The accord recommends that governments use those metrics, but does not require it.

“It’s the bare minimum of what we need, but we can work with it to get the pressure on,” said Alden Meyer, president of the group Union of Concerned Scientists. Mr. Meyer and other experts said they expected outside nongovernmental groups, research organizations and universities to perform independent analyses of countries’ carbon-cutting plans in order to assess how all the plans stack up in comparison.

Delegates here widely acknowledged that the catalyst for the deal was a joint announcement last month in Beijing by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China that the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters would limit their emissions. That move appeared to break the 20-year impasse in climate talks — particularly a longstanding insistence by developing nations that they not be required to make emissions cuts while they still had populations in poverty.

“The success of this has laid a good foundation for success of Paris,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s vice minister of National Development and Reform Commission. “Next year all of us, all countries, will continue to demonstrate our ambition, flexibility and confidence,” he said.

The environment minister of India, the world’s third largest carbon polluter, praised the deal. “We have a true consensus,” said the minister, Prakash Javadekar. India has resisted calls to commit to net reductions of its soaring carbon pollution, insisting that it should not be required to cut its use of cheap coal-fired power while millions of impoverished Indians live without electricity.

But India has signaled that it does intend to submit a plan to at least slow its rate of emissions. And Mr. Javadekar appeared to signal his support of the process of working toward a deal in Paris, saying he hopes to continue to engage with other countries throughout the year.

“Let us not leave all our differences for the next venue,” he said.

While all countries will be required under the Lima Accord to submit plans to reduce emissions, the nature of the plans can be different according to the size of their economies. Rich countries, like the United States, are expected to put forward plans detailing how they would put their emissions on a downward trajectory after 2020. Large but developing economies, like China, are more likely to put forward plans that name a future year in which their emissions peak. Poorer economies are expected to put forward plans indicating that their pollution will continue to increase — but at a lower rate.

While the Lima Accord lays the groundwork for a possible Paris deal, unresolved questions and huge divisions among countries lie ahead. The biggest one is money. Countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as low-lying island states and African nations, are already demanding that the Paris deal include not just details on mitigating emissions, but also commitments that rich countries will spend billions of dollars to help them adapt to and recover from the ravages of climate change.

Developing nations are also demanding help for the transition from using cheap, heavily polluting coal and oil to low-carbon sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Over the next year, as world capitals prepare their carbon emissions reduction plans, they will also be gearing up for a clash between rich and poor nations, in which the poor may demand money from the rich in Paris.

Also ahead is the question of how governments can continue to further ratchet down carbon pollution without severely curbing economic growth. Under the accord’s terms, by November 2015, once all countries have put forward their plans for limiting emissions, scientists and statisticians will add up the numbers to determine exactly how far they are from preventing the 3.6-degree temperature increase. That figure will form the start of another round of negotiations. The Paris deal is expected to include language requiring that countries reconvene regularly throughout the coming decades to raise the ambition of their carbon-cutting plans.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lima Climate Talks at Crossroads on Ways to Slow Global Warming

By NDTV (December 13, 2014)

About 190 nations faced a crossroads on Friday on how boldly to fight global warming as United Nations talks in Lima went into overtime amid concerns that watered-down goals could undermine a UN climate summit in Paris next year.

Representatives at the talks, which opened on Dec. 1 with hopes for momentum following a climate deal last month between China and the United States, were split over issues including greenhouse gas cuts and new cash to help poor nations cope with a warming world.

"We are almost there," Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal told delegates. "I am sure we will find solutions." The talks had been due to end on Friday afternoon but were extended to last overnight.
Emerging nations such as China and India want the Lima gathering to stress that the rich will cut greenhouse gas emissions most, and pay for rising climate damage in vulnerable countries. The United States and the European Union want to ensure that poorer nations will also rein in rising emissions.

After Lima, governments are expected to outline national plans for cutting emissions beyond 2020 by an informal deadline of March 31, 2015, to form the building blocks of a global climate deal to be agreed in Paris in December 2015.

But options on the table in Lima range from obliging nations merely to publish a vague outline of their carbon plans on a U.N. website to making all provide detailed projections of emissions that will be reviewed by experts.

"There's the good, the bad and the ugly," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who said "ugly" would mean only vague action for Paris and "good" would be detailed accounts.

Under the deal announced with the United States last month, China has promised its emissions will peak around 2030, for instance, but may not give the exact numbers and opposes the idea of a review by other countries.

Marlene Moses of Nauru, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, which fears rising sea levels and wants tough accounting, said that China was saying: "'We'll show you our cards but don't read them'.

"We are being asked to sign on to an agreement that puts us under water. That's not fair to us," she said.

And many developing nations also want the rich to map out far more clearly how they will raise aid to help the poor cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change to a goal of $100 billion a year by 2020, agreed in 2009.

A draft text about finance only "invites" developed nations to give clarity about their plans.

This year is set to be the warmest on record, and scenarios by a U.N. panel of scientists indicate that the world should get on track to slash emissions to a net zero before 2100 to limit heat waves, floods and rising sea levels. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bolivian President Highlights Indigenous Lifestyle

By teleSUR

Evo Morales warned that capitalism and reducing greenhouse effects are incompatible.

Bolivian President Evo Morales urged the world Tuesday to follow the example of the indigenous experience before the challenges of climate change while at the same ruling out an agreement based on the capitalist model.

“I would like to ask the governments of the world to listen to the indigenous peoples and follow the wisdom of life... [for] they can provide a solution on climate change,” he said during his intervention in the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 20) taking place in Lima, the Peruvian capital.

Morales demanded an agreement based on the protection of life and mother earth, and not on the market, profits or capitalism. “The new agreement must be anti-capitalist,” he argued.

The first indigenous president of Bolivia also emphasized how climate change, “the big global challenge... threatened the perspectives of development of the countries.”

In another part of his speech, he criticized the developed countries, as they have delayed providing a concrete solution to this global problem, and invited the participants to evaluate the role of the capitalist countries in the emission of greenhouse gas.

“We have been used as a pretext so the powers can keep doing the same...; colonialism upon our peoples has continued via a so-called agreement that failed in reducing the emission of greenhouse gas.”

The COP was launched in 1994 in order to reduce greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. This 20th gathering will conclude on a draft that will be approved at the COP 21, taking place next year in Paris, France.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Southern Demands for A Science-based, Just and Fair Sharing of Global Efforts to Confront the Climate Crisis

Southern CSOs at the UNFCCC COP12 Conference released a statement calling on developed countries to live up to their historical responsibilities and immediately cut emissions deeply, in addition to transferring finance and technology to the South as a part of an owed 'climate debt.'

The Statement calls on 'developing countries' to reject the development model used by the rich industrialized countries and to take on their 'fairshare' of the effort to confront the climate crisis.

Read the full statement from here