Rich countries wobble over explicit request to scale up climate action at COP20

6 December 2014

December 6, 2014, Lima, Peru: As another brutal super typhoon bares down on the Philippines, developed countries at the UN climate negotiations in Lima (COP20) have baulked at specific measures that would have them scale up climate action now.

Tasneem Essop, head of advocacy and strategy for WWF International’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative said negotiators came to Lima riding a wave of optimism and hope.

“ After a few days of false starts, countries have rolled up their sleeves and are getting to work, but unfortunately, the negotiators don’t seem to want to get their hands dirty. They seem to have forgotten that they are here to solve a planetary emergency,” Essop says. 

“In particular, efforts to cut emissions before 2020 – when science says emissions must peak to avoid the worst consequences of climate change – have completely fallen off the political radar. Negotiators here are fixing the fire alarms while the building burns.”

In negotiations yesterday, the EU, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia deleted detailed references in the draft text related to a review or a revisit of their existing commitments in the pre-2020 period, with the excuse that it was covered in the Warsaw agreement. 

“What this COP needs is a consistent and explicit reminder of the actions required in now. Any deal that doesn’t address an emissions peak before 2020 is a sure fall into a quicksand of deadly climate impacts. We cannot sacrifice a scientifically and equitably sound deal for a weak political outcome in Paris.”

In a further threat to climate action, China, among others, is pushing back on creating a strong and transparent assessment of national climate contributions toward the new agreement due in Paris at the end of next year. 

With Typhoon Hagupit making landfall in the Philippines, one year after the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the reality of the climate threat – and the need to help vulnerable communities deal with the crisis – could not be easier for all to see. 

Voltaire Alferez, national coordinator, Aksyon Klima Philippines says, “In the face of worsening impacts, like sea level rise, we do not want sympathy or pity, we want solidarity and action for those of us in vulnerable countries. We need this process to deliver.”

Julie-Anne Richards, manager international policy, from the Climate Justice Programme says after the Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines during the Warsaw climate negotiations last year, a new mechanism was established to help communities deal with climate impacts to which they cannot adapt – this is the so-called Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage.

“It’s not possible to adapt to losing your family in a typhoon. It’s not possible to adapt to your island home going under water," Richards says. "It’s not possible to adapt when your farmland becomes a desert. These are examples of loss and damage, and they show why loss and damage is so important for vulnerable countries – who want assurance that they won’t be left to suffer." 

Under the loss and damage mechanism, which many countries want as a stand-alone pillar of the Paris agreement, wealthy countries need to mobilize support for climate vulnerable states. However, there are concerns that countries, led by the US, pushed back on ensuring adequate representation of vulnerable countries  on the committee managing the mechanism.


Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 900 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. More at:

Contact:  Ria Voorhaar, CAN International in Lima on 963 961 813 or +49 157 3173 5568 or email:,  

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