California state Senate President Kevin de León arrives at the conference center for the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. Image used with permission from Senator de León.
The chattering classes of the climate policy world are abuzz with their customary post-mortems following the latest breathless two-week session of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change 20th Conference of Parties (also known simply as COP 20), held in Lima, Peru.
Consensus is forming around a “slightly better than nothing” assessment of the Lima Call for Climate Action, which was adopted in the wee hours of Sunday amidst the usual skirmishes over money, monitoring, and mandates.
Lima clarified some of the expected content of the national pledges (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” INDCs in COP shorthand) to be presented by all countries next year.
Notwithstanding the softness engendered by the word “intended,” at least we aren’t firmly stuck in the “old world order” where only developed countries are taking on mitigation actions.
Subnational cooperation and pathways to climate progress outside UN process
While nations squabbled about intentions, another story was playing out on the sidelines of the COP, showcasing real, groundbreaking and consequential progress at the subnational level – within states, provinces, and cities.
After spending the vast majority of my time in Lima with innovative and dynamic subnational leaders, I came away with an unbridled sense of optimism and renewed hope that there are pathways to climate progress, even if many of them go around rather than through the formal UN process.