A map at the Lima climate negotiations shows sea surface temperatures around the world. Source: Flickr (UNclimatechange)
The annual United Nations climate talks concluded in Lima, Peru, with a narrow outcome that provides some additional clarity on the path to finalizing a new climate agreement next year in Paris.
Nations were able to make limited progress on the modest goals expected of them, including:
- clarifying how countries will report their “intended nationally determined contributions” in early 2015; and
- identifying the main elements of the agreement to be negotiated next year and wrapped up in Paris.
When the talks ended well past their Friday deadline, Nathaniel Keohane, Vice President for international climate said:
The foot-dragging in Lima is out of step with the urgent signs of climate change that are already apparent in Peru's melting glaciers and threatened fisheries, as well as around the globe. To finalize an effective climate agreement in Paris next year, negotiators will have to move past the tired tactics and old ways of thinking that were on display these last two weeks.
We will not solve climate change with a single UN agreement. What an agreement in Paris can do is build a structure that spurs countries to be more ambitious, makes them accountable for their progress, and gives them the confidence that other countries are taking action as well.
With each passing year, more and more momentum on climate change is building outside the UNFCCC. The UN talks remain a valuable forum — the one place where all countries come together to discuss climate change. But as we have seen in the past few months, there are now multiple ways forward on climate change, including direct cooperation between nations, action by states and provinces, and engagement by the private sector. To make progress at the scale and pace required to meet the challenge of climate change, we need to take advantage of every pathway we have.
Coming into this year’s UN climate talks in Lima, countries were riding a wave of positive momentum generated by good news.
As climate talks in Lima enter their final week, the main question is how much progress negotiators will make toward an effective international agreement for the long run. Source: Flickr (UNclimatechange)
In Beijing last month, the leaders of the world’s two largest economies — and largest emitters — stood together to underscore their joint commitment to addressing climate change.
A few weeks prior, the European Union announced its plans to reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
As a result, the three jurisdictions that account for nearly half of annual carbon pollution worldwide have all made significant commitments to reduce or limit their emissions (although more ambitious cuts are needed to put the world on a path to climate safety).
As with many important topics, however, to get a full sense of how the UN climate negotiations are going requires also looking beyond the headlines.
As the talks enter their second and final week, some of the developments outside of the spotlight are raising concerns even as the US-China bilateral agreement continues to be the basis for broader optimism.
At the UN climate conference in Lima, a group of country negotiators and other experts discussed how to bring forests and other land uses front and center in the global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. Above: Panelists Jason Funk (Union of Concerned Scientists), Maria Sanz Sanchez (FAO), Peter Iverson (Denmark), Josefina Brana-Varela (WWF) and Paulo Canaveria (EU) and moderator Patrick Wylie (IUCN) discuss land use in the 2015 agreement with an audience of 120 people. Source: Chris Meyer
Against a backdrop of tree-covered mountains, negotiators from all over the world are meeting for the next two weeks in Lima, Peru for the United Nations annual climate change conference. Before the meeting, Environmental Defense Fund and partners coordinated a workshop in Lima, where a group of country negotiators and other experts discussed how to bring forests and other land uses front and center in the global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. Participants agreed that the agreement needs to include land use in a simple, flexible and transparent way to encourage as many countries as possible to take action in this doubly important sector, which both accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and also absorbs a significant fraction of the world’s carbon emissions every year.
The annual UN climate conference kicked off today in Lima, Peru, and over the next two weeks delegates from more than 190 countries will be seeking to build on the momentum created by the recent US-China bilateral agreement and efforts launched at September's Climate Summit.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres opens the latest round of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. Source: Flickr (UNclimatechange)
Nathaniel Keohane, vice president of EDF's International Climate Program and a former economic adviser in the Obama administration said in EDF's opening statement:
Lima signals the bell lap in the current round of talks leading to a climate agreement in Paris next year. Countries won’t finalize an agreement in Lima, but they should make progress in setting out fundamental elements of such an agreement.
No single UN agreement will solve climate change. What an agreement in Paris can do is to build a structure that spurs countries to be more ambitious, makes them accountable for their progress, and gives them the confidence that other countries are taking action as well. The talks in Lima can lay the groundwork for such an outcome.
Starting next week, the UN’s annual climate negotiations are being hosted by Lima, Peru – one of the nine countries that make up the Amazon Rainforest, under the shadow of the murder of Ashaninka indigenous leader Edwin Chota and three others last September in the Peruvian Amazon. Chota and the other indigenous activists had long protested illegal logging in their territory. The murders remain unresolved.
At last year’s negotiations, forests were big news, as negotiators built on years of technical discussions by finalizing the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Forests aren’t likely to provide headlines again this year, but a couple of items will be up for discussion – and what’s happening on forests elsewhere in Peru is noteworthy independent of the UN process. Read More
It was released two days late for Halloween, but an international report on the dangers of climate change still has plenty of information about our warming planet that will chill you to the core.
The report is the latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC releases a series of reports every six or seven years that assess the latest data and research on climate change. This latest is the Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report—a culmination of three earlier reports in this series.
The Synthesis Report summarizes the physical science of climate change; current and future impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation of the human and natural worlds; and mitigation opportunities and necessities.
More than anything else, the report underscores the urgent need for action. Read More