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December 1 – 14, 2014, Lima, Peru was the venue for the 20th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 20th Conference of the Parties — or COP 20.
The purpose of this conference was to create a universal agreement on climate change action and begin the process of financing mitigation.
The meeting ended with all nations agreeing to cut back greenhouse gas emissions. Known as the Lima Accord, this treaty is not legally binding and countries do not have to specify how much they will cut back, instead agreeing to report their plans back by March 2015.
While for many it sounded like a successful outcome, others were disappointed, such as poor countries struggling to rebuild from current impacts of climate change who were alarmed at the disappearance of loss and damage commitments from the final text which has been part of the discussion for years.
The global climate movement, 350.org, summarized the disappointments and hopeful aspects of the meeting outcome, noting
- The new agreement does not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis
- Some good agreements – but no measures to ensure implementation
- Least developed and vulnerable nations left out in the cold
- Divestment (from fossil fuel reliance) is more important than ever
- Global momentum for real solutions is stronger than ever and will keep on going.
In trying to put a positive spin on the overall disappointment they felt, they concluded,
In the end, a global climate treaty is just one tool to combat climate change. Real change is going to continue to come from the grassroots. The UN Climate Talks continue to be a place where the world’s countries comes together to debate this crisis and people are putting in enormous efforts to make sure Paris [the next global meeting] won’t be like Copenhagen which was full of disappointments despite big promises.
Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, was quite scathing of the meeting outcome saying that
political expediency won over scientific urgency. She also noted that
Developed country governments couldn’t even manage to explain how they will deliver the long-promised US$100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020. In a move that seemingly dismissed the plight of the most vulnerable countries, they completely removed any meaningful language about ‘loss and damage’.
Mainstream media reporting
As with almost every previous meeting (with occasional exceptions), mainstream media reporting was very poor given the importance of this global issue. Where the meeting was reported it was generally towards the end, and just sound bite type summaries saying all countries agreed to emission cuts and that this was a major improvement.
While the treaty continued to say it honors the long-standing
common but differentiated responsibilities the mainstream media reporting (as in most years) has typically failed to provide explanation and context of this principle that has been an important part of these talks for over 2 decades; that poor and developing countries should not bear the same responsibilities as the developed ones (because they are not the cause of the anthropogenic carbon emissions over the previous decades that have led to this, which is detailed much more on this site’s page on climate justice).
A hint towards this principle may have been presented as a viewpoint of China or India, given the impression they are being obstacles, rather then explaining this principle in more context.
That was just one of the issues skirted over or omitted from common reporting. Others included issues on financing, technology support for poorer nations, etc. Behind the scenes, for decades, rich countries have stalled on these things or actively avoided trying to share technology etc, which is barely reported.
Every year, this criticism is made of mainstream reporting, so without following these negotiations each year, it can be easy to come away with the impression that this meeting had a positive outcome.
But as this discussion hosted by Democracy Now! shows, there were a number of important issues of contention:
In context: common but differentiated responsibilities
Many years ago all nations agreed that climate change was largely the result of actions from today’s industrialized nations, as carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — stays in the atmosphere for decades. Yet, the poorest would end up suffering the most for a problem they largely did not cause. The approaches to mitigation (emissions reduction) would therefore be different for those groups of countries — the common but differentiated responsibilities principle.
It is in this context that the discussion for loss and damage has come about. And it is something that rich countries are keen to get rid of .
The years of resistance on this issue (and many others) means each time it is discussed again the reactions seem to get even more hostile. Combined with the lack of detailed context in the mainstream media coverage of this aspect, it then becomes easier each time to see culprits as China and India given their enormous greenhouse emissions in recent years, compared to the far greater amount by the industrialized nations over the longer period. See this site’s section on climate justice for more detailed background.
And as this site has said for years on the climate justice page, the rich nations are delaying any meaningful action until it is eventually — and disproportionately — paid for the by the developing nations. New Delhi based Nitin Sethi, associate editor at Business Standard, interviewed in the earlier mentioned video says the same thing, but more frankly:
As the conference is still underway as this page is written, more information will be added here after the event is over.
For more about the issues from other organizations, here are some starting points:
News stories from IPS
Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Lima climate conference and its aftermath.
Aug 31 (IPS) – At the end of her first week on strike in August 2018, Greta Thunberg handed out flyers that said: “You grownups don’t give a shit about my future.” Her appearance at the 2019 UN Climate Summit capped a year in the spotlight for the teenage climate activist. Delegates at the summit gave her a standing ovation, but the sound of their applause couldn’t mask Greta Thunberg’s deep frustration.
NEW DELHI, Aug 26 (IPS) – India ranks third in terms of absolute levels of carbon emissions after China and the United States. In a business as usual scenario, by 2030, emission levels are predicted to reach more than 4.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GTCO2) equivalent of greenhouse gas—up from 3 GTCO2 today—overtaking the United States as the second-largest emitting country.
KOLKATA, India, Jul 09 (IPS) – In India the impacts of climate change induced extreme weather events on the lives and livelihood of people, particularly belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society, are increasing alarmingly with each passing year.
WASHINGTON DC, Jun 29 (IPS) – Cast your mind back. Six months ago—it seems like a lifetime—the world’s attention was on Madrid. The United Nations was meeting to take stock of international progress in fighting climate change. Headlines were dominated by young people pointing out—rightly—that governments were still not doing enough. They demanded urgent and ambitious action to cut emissions and help the most vulnerable.
ROME/SANTIAGO, Jun 24 (IPS) – The lack of a coordinated international response had led to varying results worldwide in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Two countries that have long coordinated their response to global goals like promotion on democracy, human rights and environmental issues, Sweden and Costa Rica highlight how public policy matters. While with their similar approaches to climate change the two walk together, their different approaches to COVID-19 have reaped disparate results, and death tolls.
HAMILTON, Canada, Jun 08 (IPS) – Do migrants willingly choose to flee their homes, or is migration the only option available?
There is no clear, one-size-fits-all explanation for a decision to migrate — a choice that will be made today by many people worldwide, and by an ever-rising number in years to come because of a lack of access to water, climate disasters, a health crisis and other problems.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Apr 13 (IPS) – In recent days we have seen the understandable decision reached to postpone the UN climate change conference – COP26 – which was due to take place this November. As the world reels from the widespread impacts of the coronavirus crisis, it is the right call.
NEW YORK, Mar 25 (IPS) – With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the planet and the governments of both wealthy and poorer nations overwhelmed by the demands of managing a response, the scheduling of this year’s critical UN Climate Summit is suddenly in doubt.
Mar 09 (IPS) – This year, the Paris Agreement’s effectiveness as a global response to the climate crisis is being tested as governments are preparing to submit more ambitious national targets for mitigation and adaptation.
NGWEMPISI, Eswatini, Feb 27 (IPS) – In the southern African nation of Eswatini, women, who already have too many household chores, have had to spend many hours for days on end in the fields, tilling and weeding the soil. But thanks to the gradual introduction of Climate-Smart Agriculture, some are beginning to harvest the gains of more time for their families.
Three Financial Firms Could Change the Direction of the Climate Crisis – and Few People Have Any Idea
Feb 25 (IPS) – A silent revolution is happening in investing. It is a paradigm shift that will have a profound impact on corporations, countries and pressing issues like climate change. Yet most people are not even aware of it.
NEW YORK, Feb 17 (IPS) – For any riverine country, the state of the water body around big cities and conditions of major rivers hold a leadership position in the overall climate effects and how the water body is protected and preserved impacts the entire economy and living standards of that country.
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 17 (IPS) – The United Nations Development Programme is leading a climate change effort that might finally address concerns many advocates have: bridging the gap between people and governments.
ILLINOIS, United States, Feb 14 (IPS) – Recently, the Associated Press cropped out Ugandan climate change activist Vanessa Nakate from a photo at the World Economic Forum. The remaining activists in the photo, including Greta Thunberg, were all white.
LONDON, Jan 31 (IPS) – There was only one topic on everyone’s lips at Davos this year – climate change. The headlines focused on the cold war between Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump, but there was much greater consensus among those gathered for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
AMSTERDAM, Jan 22 (IPS) – Eco Matser is Hivos global Climate Change / Energy and Development CoordinatorFor the first time, the world’s elites meeting this year at Davos have listed environmental issues as their top concerns about the next decade.
WASHINGTON DC, Jan 16 (IPS) – Climate change is already a reality. Ever-more-ferocious cyclones and extended droughts lead to the destruction of infrastructure and the disruption of livelihoods and contribute to mass migration.
ILLINOIS, United States, Jan 15 (IPS) – United Nations World Food Program recently released 2020 Global Hotspots Report. According to the report, millions of citizens from Sub-Saharan African countries will face hunger in the first half of 2020 for several reasons including conflict, political instability and climate-related events such as below-average rainfall and flooding.
SEOUL, South Korea, Dec 18 (IPS) – One of the main discussions at the COP25 climate change talks was Article 6which is designed to provide financial support to emerging economies and developing countries to help them reduce emissions by using global carbon markets.
Carbon pricing is an essential piece of the puzzle to curb emissions. Without a value on carbon, there is less incentive to make positive changes, especially in the private sector. The most efficient way to carry this forward is to allow trading of carbon both nationally and internationally, which will ensure the lowest cost of mitigation for participants globally.
MADRID, Dec 17 (IPS) – Millions of people, particularly in Africa, who lose their property, homes, and even die due to climate-related disasters will have to wait at least another year for the international community to agree on a means of supporting them.
KATHMANDU, Dec 16 (IPS) – Women in Asia and Africa hardest hit by climate change have a tough time adapting to the climate emergency, even with support from family or the state, finds a new study. The results raise questions for global agreements designed to help people adapt to the climate emergencyit adds.
VIENNA, Dec 13 (IPS) – At a time when the world is battling unprecedented drought, bushfires, rising sea levels and water shortages, reducing energy use across industry is one powerful way to fight climate change in the immediate term.
MADRID, Dec 13 (IPS) – Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe has compared the climate emergency to a violent act and appealed to the international community for help to fight climate change.
MAUDUGURI, Borno State, Nigeria, Dec 13 (IPS) – In this edition of Voices from the Global South, Sam Olukoya goes to Maiduguri, Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, and reports on how climate change is fuelling Boko Haram’s insurgency.
Experts say climate change is a key factor fuelling the insurgency of the armed group Boko Haram. The insurgency, which is aimed at creating an Islamic State in North East Nigeria, is responsible for one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 (IPS) – The successful battle against climate change – which has triggered a rash of natural disasters, including floods, droughts and rising sea levels— will be predicated largely on the availability of financing.
MADRID, Dec 11 (IPS) – As the 25th session of climate negotiations draw to an end this week, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) have been calling on the world to consider the continent as a special case in terms of implementation of the Paris Agreement and climate finance.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 (IPS) – Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and developing countries are recognized as hotspots for climatic risks. Through solidarity, peer-to-peer learning and collective self-reliance, developing countries are collaborating among themselves to address the threat.
MADRID, Dec 09 (IPS) – As the COP25 deliberations enter the decisive final week, representatives of environmental and social organisations gathered in a parallel summit are pressing the governments to adopt stronger commitments in the face of a worsening climate emergency.
MADRID, Spain, Dec 09 (IPS) – Miles Young is Director of the Social Development Program, Pacific Community (SPC)The term “environmental refugee” has gained prominence in recent years as climate change and desertification have threatened the livelihoods of millions of people, causing many to re-locate.