SPECIAL COP20 – Lima climate talks close on a compromise text pushing for 2015 deal

Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima closed last night (Sunday, Dec. 14) at around 2 a.m. adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

After the deadlock that delayed negotiations yesterday, countries finally agreed on a 4-page text – officially renamed the “Lima Call for Climate Action” – which contains the elements that will guide the work in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015. Announcing the final document to the world, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the Peru Minister of the Environment and President of the COP20, said “As a text it is not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties” and again “With this text, we all are winners, no exceptions”.

Compared to the previous draft, the text now contains reference to “loss and damage”, as called yesterday by many developing countries concerned with its omission. In particular, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage has been recalled in the preamble. Also finance and adaptation found their place in the document while the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and respective capabilities gained a new paragraph (par.3) in order to meet the demand of developing countries. Overall, the text about the pre-2020 ambitions, as well as on the review process, remains vague but US and EU can claim victory on the detailed language about pledges.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs,) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). To facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding, INDCs may include quantifiable information on the reference point (including a base year), time frames and/or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, methodological approaches. In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

The Conference also agreed on set of documents that report the progress made in the last two weeks about several other issues.

As for the “Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage”, for example, countries managed to agree on the initial work plan as well as the composition of its Executive Committee.

With regard to Adaptation issues, advancements have been made to reinforce the National Adaptation Plans (NAP), their recognition and visibility. Collaboration with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will take place to understand how the development of NAPs can be financially supported.

Although long-term Finance remains one of the most controversial issues, one of the outcomes of this Lima summit could be considered the fact that the Green Climate Fund, whose goal before the COP20 was to reach US$ 10 billion, reached US$ 10.2 billion in Lima thank to further pledges made by the governments of Norway, Australia, Belgium, Peru, Colombia and Austria. Other funds for the Adaptation Fund and South-South cooperation have been pledged.

In addition, the first Multilateral Assessment (MA) was launched in Lima, which saw the assessment of 17 developed countries’ emission reduction targets by other governments or ‘Parties’ to the Convention.

Further documentation also remarks the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation, technology transfer to developing countries as well as of improving gender balance and educational components within climate change strategies.

Mixed feelings followed the COP closure, with exhausted delegates expressing satisfaction about the work done and, on the contrary, environmental campaigners frustrated for the weakness of the main text and of the nature of emissions reduction targets.

Besides documents, UN climate talks in Lima show us that countries still have very different views on key issues and the majority of decisions on these issues have to be taken in less than one year.

(Image: Closure of the COP20, Lima, 14 Dec. 2014. Photo credit: COP20 official website)