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Can Lima pave the way for a real climate deal in Paris?

28 Nov Can Lima pave the way for a real climate deal in Paris?

While all signs seem to point in the right direction, the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNCCC) negotiations in Lima next month will give us a better indication of whether we can truly expect a global climate agreement in 2015.

The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is expected to conclude its work in December 2015 in Paris, with a framework for the world to develop more sustainably by preventing global temperatures from rising by 2ºC- a situation which many scientists believe would be catastrophically damaging.

The ADP framework will look at complementing the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol (KP), which began last year and is slated to end in 2020, by curbing global emissions from about 15%, up to 80%. But more importantly, it aims to create a framework that all 193 nations will abide to beyond 2020.

Contrary to the first attempt in Copenhagen back in 2009, a positive outcome can be expected from this second attempt at a global agreement for the following reasons.

Firstly, there is stronger political will for an agreement. Instead of NGOs and the media drumming up the expectations a year before Copenhagen, it is now the negotiators, political leaders and decision makers themselves who are voluntarily calling for commitments. Also, the recent slew of events such as the Abu Dhabi Ascent in May, the Petersberg Dialogue in July, and the recent G20 meeting in Australia have shown reaffirmation by countries at both working and decision-making levels on their commitments by 2015 in Paris.

In fact, states themselves have already proposed to push forward the first cut of national commitments by March 2015, a date much earlier than the initial deadline of December, at the Paris UNCCC. Perhaps the most significant commitment till date will be the China-US climate deal that was signed at the recent APEC meeting, where the world’s two largest polluters agreed to significant carbon cuts, with China implementing hard caps on carbon emissions.

Building on these momentums, next month’s UN Climate Change negotiations in Lima, Peru, is expected to emulate this positive trend.

Secondly, there are over 30 countries that have already implemented climate change legislations at the national level. These are essentially building blocks not just for an agreement to be signed, but for the successful implementation of any new framework agreed at these negotiations. This was sorely lacking at the Copenhagen conference.

Hence, despite the presence of high profiled heads of states such as President Obama, Wen Jiabao, and Manmohan Singh at the 2009 Copenhagen meeting, they never had a shot at a climate deal because the foundation needed to create this deal was simply lacking.

While the key factors for the general success of these negotiations have been laid out, the devil lies in the details. At Lima, states will need to address deeper concerns such as the finances, technological transfers and accounting of emissions to ensure that we not only have commitments on paper, but also successful implementation for change to truly happen.

Sources:

Climate Change Policy & Practice (Knowledgebase) [IISD]

China-US Climate Deal May Drive Developing World Action [Asian Scientist, 19 Nov 2014]

US and China strike deal on carbon cuts in push for global climate change pact [The Guardian, 12 Nov 2014]

Photo Credit:
 Lima COP20/CMP10