SPECIAL COP20 – Last minute negotiations and civil society’s demands: Diary of the last days in Lima

Life at Pentagonito today (Thursday Dec. 11, Ed. ) does not look very different from what we have been used to see during the last two weeks. Delegates plodding towards the meeting rooms, representatives looking for some shadow to escape the burning sun or nattering in the central yard, TV crews feeding their live reports and looking for the protagonist of the day to interview. But this business as usual situation is only apparent.

On Tuesday, technical negotiators left the floor to Ministries, and the High Level segment of the UNFCCC was opened by UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon with a message of urgency towards getting to a “balanced, well-structured and coherent draft text” to be adopted in Paris next year. However, despite the official closing of COP20/CMP10 tomorrow (today, Friday Dec. 12, Ed.), many important issues remain on the table and negotiations have speed up, proceeding intensively especially after the sunset.

The main knots to be untied are linked to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). The ADP is expected to close this afternoon (Thursday Dec. 11) defining the main ingredients of the 2015 deal, but the impression is that we will assist to a last minute solution. Apparently, discussion is still undergoing on the information to be included in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (i.e. the domestic climate action plans to be submitted by all parties for the period after 2020), on whether these plans will only focus on mitigation or also adaptation, and on the financial support to be provided by developed countries.

On the positive side, COP 20 was able to get to some important results ahead of the official closing. With the (unexpected) pledge of Australia to contribute with AU$ 200 million to the Green Climate Fund, the target of $ 10 billion to support developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation efforts was met. Moreover, as for the issue of Loss and Damage which last year caused COP19 to close with a day of delay, an agreement was reached around the composition of its Executive Committee. This actually proved to be quite a thorny issue. While some European delegates informally reported to be optimistic about reaching an agreement by Monday (Dec. 8, Ed.), the issue required much more time and only got to a solution yesterday.

However, there is unresolved issue that still lies on the table, but has not find any official space in the negotiation agenda and will not be solved here in Lima neither. It is the role of civil society and its demands within climate negotiations. Yesterday (Wednesday Dec. 10, Ed.), more than 20 000 people took part to the Climate March, with indigenous people, youth movements, trade unions, and religious organizations, among others, peacefully crossing Lima (and its chaotic traffic). The feeling was that of a big distance between the requests made by social movements and the decision taken at the negotiation tables.

How to make the UNFCCC process more inclusive and responsive to civil society’s demands remains still an open question.


(Image: People’s Climate March in Lima, Peru, Dec. 10. Photo credit: Oxfam International on Flickr)


Written by Elisa Calliari in Lima, Peru. In collaboration with Agenzia di Stampa Giovanile sulla Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, Sostenibilità Ambientale e Cambiamenti Climatici (Youth Press Agency on Climate Change, Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development).