LIMA, Peru, December 8, 2014 (AMG) — In the COP that UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, says must ‘make history,’ Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, echoed his hopes that this meeting will focus on the urgency to reach zero emissions by the end of the century to avoid temperatures rising above 2oCelsius, and limit the consequences of climate change.

Here is a synopsis of this week’s discussions.

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Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Environment Minister for Peru, announced an aim to achieve a formal draft text of for a 2015 Paris agreement at the end of the Lima Climate Talks. He outlined that the two-week negotiations should aim to achieve:

– Progress on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
– A framework on structuring and strengthening financial mechanisms
– Launch ambitious process to accelerate pre-2020 action to limit emissions
– A “giant step forward” in adaptation efforts through National Adaptation Plans
– International reviews of mitigation action for developed countries- Launch of a loss and damage mechanism
– Progress on forests
– Concrete results on technology transfer and gender
– An inclusive, creative and transparent process

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Bolivia, representing the G77+China group, emphasized that developed countries failed to deliver on their financial promises to tackle climate change. Referencing the promised $100 billion per year to the Green Climate Fund, Bolivia stated that developed countries must increase their ambition levels.

Nauru, the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), stated that contributors to the Green Climate Fund built trust with the developing countries by pledging their contributions, however, they insist that this trust is fragile can only be maintained once these developed countries deliver.

The extreme vulnerability of Small Island States to climate change demands urgent action, and international momentum is finally building to deliver. We call on the world to ensure the opportunity does not slip away.

– Alliance of Small Island States

After warning that developing countries should not accept any ‘backsliding on financial commitments’ from developed countries, Nicaragua also made mention of the informal discussions in which agreements are made – complaining that these huddled discussions exclude the less politically-powerful nations.

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Day two saw negotiations moving into a textual format, which was requested when parties last met in Bonn, Germany in October. This format will allow countries to start constructing the draft text of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Some countries again expressed concerns that the ‘huddled’ negotiations taking place lacked a sense of democracy on central points, and would result in agreements that do not represent the positions of all parties present.

Non-paper discussions – led mainly by the United States – were of much frustration to developing countries since they are not included in the formal text. As such, there is no documentation of promised financial contributions by developed countries and so they will not be held accountable if they fail to comply.

Sudan (on behalf of the Africa Group) and Belize (on behalf of the Central American Integration System) voiced their discontent with the non-paper negotiations and the huddled sessions, which mostly included powerful, more developed nations.

Developing countries also expressed their disappointment in the co-chairs’ lack of transparency in negotiations and accused them of being biased.

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Germany announced a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a 78 million tonnes by 2020. This plan, however, does not represent additional goals. Rather, it aims to achieve Germany’s established goal of reducing their emissions by 40% by 2020.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) announced that there is $15 million readily available for distribution, and proposals will begin to be accepted by June 2015. Countries were reminded, however, that there was a $1 million per country per year limit on these funds.

There was controversy surrounding Japan’s funding of a $1 billion coal plant in Indonesia, which some regarded as an illegitimate use of climate funding. A lack of clear guidelines on the appropriate use of funding cleared Japan of breaking any rules. As a result, a letter was written to the GCF – signed by over 250 organizations – requesting them to adopt an ‘exclusion list’ which will guide countries on how climate funds should be used.

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Developing countries advocated for a detailed line by line discussion of the draft text, but developed countries insisted that such a method was too time-consuming. Developing countries argued that since their delegations lack the same number of experts as developed countries, they can only fairly analyze the suggested text by having it displayed openly projected on the screen.

As non-paper negotiations continued, Green Peace released a statement which said, in part, that “such a text, along with all the complex individual negotiations it spawns, is also the perfect playground for any country or group of countries wanting to delay action, without being seen openly to do so.”

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Norway announced its pledge of an additional $230 million to the Green Climate Fund, bringing the fund’s total to $9.95 billion, just short of the $10 billion goal. Although Australia announced on Day One of a commitment to “strong and effective climate action,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that the country will not be making any contributions to the Green Climate Fund. She said that Australia will continue to make direct contributions to vulnerable islands in the South Pacific rather than to the GCF.

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As climate discussions continued, The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2014 is on track to becoming the hottest year globally. The global average land and ocean temperatures from January to October have been the hottest since 1880, when records began.

Stay tuned for coverage of the upcoming week.

Lima COP-20: What happened in the first week

Sophia Longsworth

Sophia is a Grenadian residing in the United States. She holds an MPH and an MSc. in Natural Resource and Environmental Management, and has research interests in the impact of the environment on public health.

PUBLISHED — December 8, 2014

Category: CARICOM & Foreign PolicySustainability