Monday

18th Feb 2019

Lima summit avoids collapse of difficult climate talks

  • Critics note that the final version of the Lima text is not as enforceable as some had hoped (Photo: UNclimatechange)

International climate talks in Lima saw the adoption of an agreement on Sunday (14 December) on the next steps to take to achieve a climate treaty in Paris in 2015.

The agreement, which was reached 33 hours after the summit officially ended, means that an outright collapse of the talks was avoided, but the deal has received a mixed assessment.

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Those praising the accord note that it is the first time that all 195 countries – rich and poor – taking part in the climate negotiations have agreed to reducing greenhouse gases.

Under the previous climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, it was mostly the developed countries that committed to action to reduce the effect of industrialisation on the warming of the planet.

After Lima, all nations - in some way - will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But critics note that the final version of the Lima text is not as enforceable as some had hoped, with more options for countries to avoid doing their part.

The Paris approach takes a bottom-up instead of a top-down approach. Countries decide themselves how much they will reduce greenhouse gases, their so-called 'nationally determined contributions'.

A 31 March 2015 deadline for all countries to make their contributions public has been watered down to “well in advance” of the December 2015 summit in Paris. The 31 March deadline now only applies to “those parties ready to do so”.

The Lima accord also lacks obligatory formatting of those contributions - which would make it easier to compare them.

Countries are no longer required to take measures to ensure “clarity, transparency and understanding” of their climate goals.

Meanwhile a thorough assessment of all countries' contributions before the Paris summit has evolved into a UN analysis that will be published on 1 November 2015, just a month before the Paris meeting.

EU wanted more

The European Commission and the EU's member states praised the fact that a deal had been reached.

EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said “although the EU wanted a more ambitious outcome from Lima, we believe that we are on track to agree a global deal in Paris next year”.

“Although this was a difficult conference, it is important to maintain the spirit of optimism and political momentum that brought us to Lima”, the Italian environment minister Gian Luca Galletti said, on behalf of the member states.

The European Parliament was more critical, calling it a “minimalistic” deal that “represents the lowest common denominator”.

“Despite some progress in Lima, there are still many stumbling blocks on the way”, said socialist MEP Jo Leinen, who was present at the talks.

In a blog post, Scottish conservative MEP Ian Duncan, a member of the parliament's environment committee, said that “the emergence of any deal at all is positive; things were looking pretty desperate at various points in the week”.

But he noted that the comparability of contributions and the possibility to be more ambitious, had not been achieved.

“The text does allow for publication of the commitments, but there is no clause allowing the material to be returned to sender, and no prospect of the commitments being revised in advance of Paris. This is a significant defeat for the EU”, he wrote.

Climate representatives will gather again in Geneva in February for a lower-level technical meeting.

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