Is the Climate change conference in Lima a let-down?

Lima’s call for Climate Action is finally here. UN’s climate change conference at the Peruvian capital of Lima was scheduled to close on Dec 12 but has seen a time overrun of 2 days and it seems President of the meeting was right in insisting that the delegates would not leave Lima with empty hands. An agreement was finally acknowledged by the participating countries after 2 extra days of negotiations and discussions.

So, why has COP 20 garnered more attention that the previous 19 have failed to do?

Lima Leaders

Why a successful COP 20 was important?

  • The global average temperatures are on the rise, 2014 has been the hottest year on record!
  • To have a draft agreement INDC( Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions) to be finalised in Paris when the next Confederation of Parties (COP) is scheduled. An international climate agreement has become a necessity if we are to achieve the 2°C limit. The path to Paris starts in Peru.

The run-up to the COP20 in Peru had been very significant

  • The UN climate summit in September 2014 saw massive protests throughout the globe and nearly 400,000 thronged the streets of NY alone.
  • The European Union agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.
  • A new climate change agreement in 2015 seemed a possibility when the top global emitters of GHG USA and China made a joint declaration to cut emissions.( Read the significance of the declaration here).
  • The Green Climate Fund during its meeting in November pledged USD 10 billion to help developing countries cut emissions. The US has pledged USD 3 billion for similar efforts.
  • Many countries have made commitments to the deal in Paris well before the deadline of 31st March 2015.

 What was expected at COP 20 in Lima?


  • Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs) from the participating countries which would be their minimum contribution to the agreement.
  • Set long term decarbonisation plans for all parties with first cut targets for 2025, 2030 and a review every five years.
  • Acknowledge the latest IPCC report that if we don’t phase out Green House Gases (GHG) in the second half of the century, we would fail to stay below the 2°C limit.
  • A commitment from the countries in terms of plan of action. Most importantly a commitment from Japan, India, Brazil and Russia who have so far been non-committal.

Why is COP 20 a big let-down?

  • After extra time and extra effort the final document ( now called the Lima Call for Climate Action) is all of 5 pages with no significant assurances; Experts felt the text was weakened after every round of review.
  • The developed countries agree on emission reduction but not to the finance associated causes.
  • Small island nations who are more vulnerable to the rising temperature and proportional rise in sea levels felt the document made no mention of the commitment needed from the developed countries to them. Alliance of small island states feel they need an assurance of 100Billion a year. In the end they managed to get some reprieve in the a phrase ‘’loss and damage”.
  • The 2 week event (which has seen Lima emit more greenhouse gases than countries like Fiji, Barbados etc) was also expected to raise funds above 15Billion USD but has managed only 10Billion USD. The previous three years also accounted for 10 Billion USD.

All said and done Lima Call for Climate Action is indeed a step in the right direction (even though it is very negligible) 190 countries have made a commitment. They now have time until March 2015 to come up with their proposed emission reduction targets. The UN would then review if these commitment are sufficient to stay below the 2°C limit. The Lima call has breached the firewall in some sense by getting all countries acknowledge that climate change is now a responsibility of all countries and not only the rich countries.

The clock is now ticking for the next conference in Paris in December 2015.


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