Lima Summit shows climate politics lagging behind real world momentum

Big issues punted to Paris

Lima, Peru, December 14, 2014: All eyes will turn to the leaders of the governments who have signed off on an outcome at the UN climate talks in Lima today which neither reflects the growing public support for the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies nor the urgency to accelerate this transition.

The Lima Decision reaffirmed that governments are now on the spot to put the individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, that will form the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December, but some of the big issues that have been plaguing the talks for years were shirked and could cause headaches later on.

When it comes down to it, these talks shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health. Increasingly domestic issues, whether they are elections or decisions about major projects such as the KeystoneXL pipeline in the US and the Galilee basin in Australia, will be seen as a country’s intention on climate change.

While governments were able to hide in Lima, they won’t have that luxury in Paris where the world will be expecting them to deliver an agreement, not shoe-gazing.

"The talks took place in the wake of worsening climate impacts hitting communities around the world, like Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines which has highlighted to ensure communities can adapt and to providing support for the loss and damage they experience when they can no longer adapt" said Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor at Christian Aid.

“There is an elephant in the room at these negotiations - we’ve not managed to entice it out. Working out how to fairly share the workload of tackling climate change between developed and developing countries has become the major stumbling block on the road to Paris.”  

Samantha Smith, Leader, WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative said “Governments crucially failed to agree on specific plans to cut emissions before 2020 that would have laid the ground for ending the fossil fuel era and accelerated the move toward renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. The science is clear that delaying action until 2020 will make it near impossible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, yet political expediency won over scientific urgency. Instead of leadership, they delivered a lackluster plan with little scientific relevancy.”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International said, "there is still a vast and growing gulf between the approach of some climate negotiators and the public demand for action. This outcome can only be seen as a call to action for people around the world. Governments will not deliver the solutions we need unless more people stand up to make our voices heard. We must continue to build a stronger movement to counteract the narrow interests that are preventing action."

In a positive contrast, negotiators here in Lima were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout surviving as one of the options listed in the current list of options for the Paris agreement. Governments need to get to real work at the next UN climate session in February, in Geneva, to convert the options into plain English, legal negotiating text.


Umbrella and LMDC countries take fossil for failing on concept of “negotiation”

UN Climate Negotiations are a marathon, not a sprint - as we are enter the final lap here in Lima our last Fossil of the Day award goes to the Umbrella and LMDC groups of countries who are trying to take us all on a race to the bottom. At this crucial moment Umbrella and LMDC groups are taking extreme positions, avoiding crucial political discussions, and refusing to engage with proposals on the table. We are at a moment in the negotiations where countries need to show political leadership, to rise above narrow self-interest and make progress towards decisions that are for the larger, global good. 

Today’s second place Fossil is jointly awarded to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus for holding up an agreement on the Doha amendment that now means the KP rules for the second commitment period will be postponed until Paris. These unlikely allies have kicked the can down the road instead of achieving and important goal here in Lima. What is particularly frustrating is that Belarus and Russia barely engaged, for such minimal input they have allied with Ukraine to cause one massive headache for the rest of us.

Our third place Fossil of the Day goes to Canada who have managed to fly under the radar here in Lima, despite plenty of underhand work stalling the talks and refusing to make any commitments. Canadian negotiators have told observers on the ground in Lima they’re on track to meet 2020 emissions reductions targets - this is a bald-faced lie. Back at home the Canadian government keep pushing to expand the oil industry like its 1899! Pipe-down Canada. 

Our final and most infamous award is the Final Fossil of the day at COP20!

This year’s Fossil of the Year Award, goes to Australia who take the Colossal Fossil award for collecting more Fossil awards than any other country here at COP20. From the get-go Australia signalled they were not coming here to make progress towards a comprehensive international climate agreement. This was pretty clear when they sent a climate sceptic Trade Minister Andrew Robb along to “chaperone” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop into a negotiating dead-end. The delegation in Lima has been dragging down loss & damage, flip-flopping on climate finance, and making bizarre comments that reveal a warped perspective on climate action. Shape up Australia, you are making Canada look good!